Garden Grove

Lisa Kim: London to Lampson

LISA KIM, Garden Grove’s new city manager (Orange County Tribune photo).

By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune

She was born in Hong Kong, moved to London, crossed the pond to California and has lived in Irvine for 25 years, but she’s ready to become as real a Garden Grove stalwart as someone born and bred in the Big Strawberry.

“I am absolutely planning to immerse myself in the community,” said Lisa Kim, Garden Grove’s new city manager, “getting to know our residents as well as our business community.”

She was promoted to the top job by the city council from her position as assistant city manager and community and economic development upon the departure of Scott Stiles, who left to become city manager of Palm Springs.

Although Kim, 52, has been near the top of City Hall management, her new role is bigger. She’s now responsible for “everything above ground and below ground,” she said with a laugh.

Does her new administration have a theme or special focus? “I would have to say it’s celebrating the city’s legacy. It’s 67 years old [as an incorporated city; the town was founded in 1874] in June. It’s a very dense, built-out community, so there’s a reason to ensure that our infrastructure is maintained. But I also want our community to able to thrive and sustain ourselves. We want to celebrate our legacy and pave the way for the future.”

Front and center initially are city efforts to cope with homelessness, as the Central Cities Navigation Center soon will come on line to house and help the unsheltered. Another big project will be a new 87,000-square foot police building that will lead to big changes in the Civic Center area.

But don’t worry, she says, about the wildlife in the Civic Center Park ponds. “The ducks will always have a home in Garden Grove.”

Her new role is quite a change, she admits. “I’m used to being in the weeds, concentrating on details, milestones and deadlines.” Now she’s got to “pan back to 35,000 feet” and take a broader view of her responsibilities.

But that’s OK. “I loved my old hat,” she said, referring to her time as community development and economic director. “But I love my new hat more.”

2 replies »

  1. Wait a second did I hear a 87,000 sq foot police building? What’s that for? Sounds like they are planning to grow the pd and then by definition the budget of law enforcement. I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I would think the homelessness issue should be , if not resolved , at a minimum before investing in 87,000 play grounds for law enforcement.

    I’m not sure what people in government are looking at but I know every time I go out to any city in orange county I see at least 20 homeless people. Often the same people . In fact in a small part of Westminster I know at least 15 homeless people personally , all have been on the street more than 5 years.

    If they are not housed in the next 2 years at least half will be dead. Sounds impossible but it’s sadly true; the very people who need housing the most are never reached.

    • Dave, in most communities, they are offered housing assistance, etc., but sadly many resist the offers of help, or just can’t stay housed due to their “life style” or other issues.

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