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Flad will leave Burbank

City manager's announcement comes as surprise to City Council members.

September 18, 2012|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene@tchekmedyian@latimes.com
  • Burbank City Manager Mike Flad speaks at a groundbreaking ceremony of the new Memorial Field at John Burroughs High School in Burbank. Flad announced this week that he plans to leave his position.
Burbank City Manager Mike Flad speaks at a groundbreaking… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

Burbank City Manager Mike Flad announced on Monday plans to leave the Media City and take the top post at the city of South Gate, stunning city officials who expected him to retire in the city where he had spent more than two decades building his career.

Flad, now 46, became the second-youngest city manager in Burbank's history when he assumed the top job in 2008 and has worked for the city for nearly 23 years.

“It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me on the face of it,” said Councilman David Gordon on Tuesday. “My understanding was that the city manager had plans to stay in Burbank for a long time.”

In February, the city extended Flad's contract for five years to December 2016, with an initial salary of $18,117 per month and an annual 3% increase after two years.

“I had hopes his plan would be to retire from the city of Burbank,” said Councilman Jess Talamantes. “There were some big challenges he had to deal with. As far as I was concerned, he was doing a fine job.”

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The most notable of those challenges was overseeing a police department roiled by outside investigations into excessive use-of-force, and lawsuits filed by current and former officers.

Flad said Tuesday that he was approached about six weeks ago by a recruiter for the position in South Gate — a much poorer city than Burbank.

“It just seemed like a good fit for me,” he said, adding that the hiring process included a written application and four interviews.

His contract could be finalized in time for a vote by the South Gate City Council on Sept. 25, in which case he estimated his last day at Burbank would be Oct. 26.

The terms of the contract, which are still being negotiated, are very similar to his current contract with Burbank, Flad said.

“This was not a move for large financial gain,” he said.

If the move comes to pass, it will be a much different landscape — from movie studios and a solid economy with low crime rates to a South L.A. bedroom community sandwiched between Lynwood and Cudahy.

“I think that I can bring my skill set to help them with their visioning for the future,” Flad said.

South Gate, with a population of 94,396, is similar in size to Burbank, but different in demographics. South Gate is 94.8% Latino — compared to Burbank's roughly 24% Latino population — and has an unemployment rate of 11.4%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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