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CRA Chief Affirms Plans to Create 7 Regional Agencies

August 18, 2004|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

The head of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency said Tuesday that he planned to move ahead with a major overhaul that would effectively create seven regional agencies to better focus the department's limited resources in different parts of the city.

CRA Administrator Robert Ovrom said the plan, set to go to the agency board Thursday, is based on his belief that smaller organizations are more nimble and successful than large ones.

In the past, the seven deputy administrators who oversee field operations and other efforts worked in the downtown headquarters. Some have already been transferred to field offices.

Ovrom's plan would divide the city into seven regions, each with an administrator based in the field and overseeing a larger and semi-autonomous staff. The seven regions would operate under the umbrella of the CRA, which would provide strategic planning on big-picture issues.

The change, proposed 17 months ago, was backed by the unions, which wanted the administrators to be union members. The issue went to arbitration, where Ovrom prevailed. The administrators would be exempt from civil service and would serve under Ovrom.

The change comes after the CRA has lost 62% of its property tax revenue in the last decade. Its workforce has declined from 357 employees nine years ago to 187, while, the number of project areas has jumped from 17 to 33.

"So now we have half as many people, half as much money and twice as much work as we had before," Ovrom said.

Union officials said the new structure is "too top heavy" and would not be best for the agency.

Ovrom disputed the criticism, saying that the seven administrators -- who would be paid $101,000 to $139,000 -- are middle management since they would be working out in the field.

The City Council must also approve the plan.

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