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New mayor, new job, new town

Mark R. Madler

The administration of new Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has

tapped former Burbank City Manager Robert “Bud” Ovrom as its point

man on economic development and housing issues.

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As deputy mayor for community and economic development, Ovrom will

put an emphasis on creating jobs and affordable housing in Los

Angeles.

Villaraigosa’s vision for economic development extends to

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promoting tourism and increasing international trade through the Port

of Los Angeles, Ovrom said.

“With biomedicine, he wants to build on the relationship with UCLA

and USC, because both are within the city limits, Ovrom said.

Villaraigosa was sworn in as mayor on July 1. Attempts to reach

his representatives were unsuccessful.

Those who worked with Ovrom, 60, during his years with the city

say the new position will be the perfect fit.

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“Economic development was something Bud lived, breathed and

probably slept when he was in Burbank,” said former councilman and

Mayor Bill Wiggins. “That was one of his major strengths.”

Much of the credit for the reshaping of the city’s landscape can

be given to Ovrom, City Manager Mary Alvord said.

“When you look at the phases of what happened downtown, it was

very much Bud’s leadership that was behind that,” Alvord said.

Ovrom was with the city for 17 years when he was picked by

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then-L.A. Mayor James Hahn in January 2003 as administrator for the

Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.

When at the agency, Ovrom restructured it so that it wasn’t so

centered on downtown and placed an importance on regions of the city

that needed attention.

“I kept hearing ‘Do for Hollywood what you did for Burbank,’” said

Ovrom, who continues to live in the city. “Everyone kept pointing to

smaller redevelopment agencies which were more nimble and

accomplishing more than L.A. was.”

In his new position, Ovrom will continue to oversee the city’s

redevelopment agency and keep it on the track he started as

administrator, he said.

Other duties as deputy mayor include overseeing the city’s

planning, housing, building and safety departments, the housing

authority, the Port of Los Angeles, and the convention center.

Major projects completed during his tenure include the Empire

Center shopping center; the Burbank Town Center Mall; the AMC retail

project; the redevelopment of San Fernando Boulevard; the Team Disney

building; the IKEA store; reconstruction of fire department stations;

and the new Buena Vista branch library.

Ovrom’s work in Burbank and with the city’s redevelopment agency

did not go unnoticed when Villaraigosa was looking for his senior

advisors, Alvord said.


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