JMBM Development Rights: Bud Ovrom Speaks at Business Issues Forum

JMBM featured Robert (Bud) Ovrom, Los Angeles Deputy Mayor in charge of Housing and Economic Development. Mr. Ovrom coordinates the City’s economic development efforts and oversees the Departments of Planning, Housing, Community Development, Community Redevelopment, the Port of Los Angeles, Building and Safety, and the Housing Authority.

In introducing Ovrom, Ben Reznik joked that when, earlier in the week, Mayor Villaraigosa had announced his plan to raise $1 billion in bonds for affordable housing in Los Angeles, he turned to Ovrom and said, “now you figure out how to do it.” But the reality is far from a joke. Bud Ovrom has been charged with the responsibility of putting into effect the Mayor’s new ambitious and progressive vision for the future of housing in Los Angeles.

Background and Qualification

Ovrom had already proven himself over many years of public service. He has worked as City Manager of Downey, Monrovia and most recently Burbank. In 2003, Ovrom left to become Chief Executive Officer/Administrator of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), a position he held until June of 2005.

It was at CRA, a resource oriented organization, that Ovrom first faced the frustration of working with Los Angeles’ 44 city department heads. Disillusioned by the gross inefficiencies of the organization, Ovrom decided that once his time at the CRA was up, he would retire. That was the plan until Antonio Villaraigosa successfully won his campaign for Mayor.

Impressed by the new Mayor’s energy, enthusiasm and vision, Ovrom committed himself to any task the Mayor had for him. On July 1, he was tapped as the Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development. Both Villaraigosa and Ovrom agreed that the sprawling and inefficient city administration must be streamlined and that the executive powers granted to the Mayor’s office in the City Charter provided the perfect tools to do so.

New Challenges

In his new role, Ovrom oversees a team of seasoned professionals committed to the immediate cause of stimulating
the economy and providing housing. By streamlining and consolidating power under the Mayor’s office, Ovrom feels that real progress can be made in stimulating development. Villaraigosa’s commitment to supporting development does not come at the expense of his commitment to affordable housing and prevailing wages, Ovrom pointed out, continuing that the new administration “believes that affordability will be achieved by promoting economic incentives to developers to make their projects pencil.”

To what degree working with the City Administration will change under new leadership is yet to be seen, but it is clear that in his short time as Mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa has assembled a committed, devoted and heavily experienced team on which he can rely. Leading that team’s effort is Bud Ovrom.

JMBM’s Government, Land Use, Environment & Energy Department hosts the Business Issues Forum. For more information, contact Benjamin Reznik at BMR@jmbm.com.