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.
As deputy mayor for community and economic development, Ovrom will
put an emphasis on creating jobs and affordable housing in Los
Villaraigosa’s vision for economic development extends to
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.
“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
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.