New Glendale city manager has Monrovia roots

Moving from one of the smallest cities in Los Angeles County to one of the largest, Monrovia City Manager Scott Ochoa will replace outgoing Jim Starbird in January as Glendale’s top executive.

The City Council announced Ochoa’s appointment Tuesday night, describing the 40-year-old as having a fresh outlook and a keen eye for finances.

“Scott’s credentials, his values, his experience, his multidimensional understanding of local government and municipal operations impressed us all,” said Mayor Laura Friedman, adding that the size of a city doesn’t accurately represent the challenges it faces.

Councilman Dave Weaver echoed her sentiments.

“It’s a total different ballgame,” Weaver said, noting that Glendale has twice as many department chiefs as Monrovia. “We’re confident. We think he’s up to doing it.”

Monrovia has a population of about 36,000, less than one-fifth the size of Glendale. Ochoa’s salary is still being negotiated, said city spokesman Tom Lorenz.

Ochoa's annual salary in Monrovia was about $182,000 plus benefits, according to city records. Starbird makes about $240,000 annually, not including benefits.

Some Glendale residents had criticized the search process, which was limited to internal candidates just a few months ago. Following calls to open the recruitment process to those outside the city, the City Council hired the Beverly Hills-based firm Norm Roberts Consulting. 

The final pool included three external candidates with city manager experience and two Glendale department executives.

“I look forward to a very long and effective tenure as your city manager,” Ochoa said after the announcement, noting the sluggish economy, a difficult city-state relationship and other issues that will keep the city on its toes. 

He added that he plans to bring sustainable managed growth to the city and focus on controlling costs.

Similar to Glendale, sluggish revenue growth from sales taxes coupled with increased operational and employee costs led to a budget deficit in Monrovia for this fiscal year, according to city documents. The shortfall pushed the city to cut positions and change retirement benefits for new hires as well as wipe out its $200,000 “Reserve for Economic Uncertainty.”

Ochoa began working for Monrovia as an intern in 1993, climbing the ranks to become city manager in 2004, Friedman said. 

Starbird once served as the city manager of Monrovia prior to his work in West Covina and Glendale. 

“I’m happy to see someone of Scott’s caliber step up into this position,” Starbird said.

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