Steve Burrell, who spent 18 years as Hermosa Beach's city manager and was known for his progressive vision for the city, died May 26.
Burrell, who lived in Redondo Beach, started as city manager in 1994 and was instrumental in numerous changes in the city, according to many who worked with him during his tenure in Hermosa Beach. He retired on March 29, 2012.
Burrell has been credited for being involved in numerous projects that have shaped the city through the years, including:
- Reconstruction of the Strand
- Building of the downtown parking structure
- Creation of Pier Plaza
- Creation of South Park and Noble Park
- Landmarks such as the Veterans Memorial and Vetter Windmill
- Upper Pier Avenue modifications
“I’ve been proud to serve the city, and I appreciate the opportunity I’ve had to work with an outstanding city staff that has made possible the many successes we have enjoyed over the past 18 years,” said Burrell upon his retirement in an article in The Beach Reporter.
Former Hermosa Beach councilmember J. R. Reviczky worked with Burrell for 16 years while on the council from 1993 to 2009.
“There was nobody that didn’t respect him,” said Reviczky of Burrell.
Reviczky praised Burrell for his work ethic, for usually being the first one in the office and the last one to leave.
“He was just the kind of guy who was always positive,” Reviczky said. “We would come to him with something and rather than giving you reasons why things couldn't be done, he would try to figure out how we could do them. That was just his positive attitude. And you know, that's so important in a city manager.”
“It was as if you looked in the dictionary and looked under city manager, there would be a picture of Steve Burrell,” Reviczky said.
Former Hermosa Beach councilmember Jeff Duclos said he knew Burrell both as a concerned citizen and he worked with him on city council.
Duclos said Burrell was good and even-keeled person who could work with strong personalities during divided and divisive councils.
“He navigated dealing with really strong personalities and points of view and kind of demanding folks,” Duclos said.
With the current dynamics of city government, when Duclos said the average life span of a city manager is five years, the city will probably never seen anything like Burrell.
“He is a significant individual in the history of Hermosa Beach without question,” Duclos said.
Hermosa Beach City Attorney Mike Jenkins worked with Burrell from when he was appointed by the city in 1996 until Burrell’s retirement in 2012.
“Those of us on city staff who had the pleasure of working with Steve Burrell for a long time remember him as a collaborative, even-tempered and thoughtful city manager,” said Jenkins in an email. “Steve was known for and proud of his open-door policy, making him readily accessible to residents and employees alike.”
Jenkins said Burrell was committed to preserving and improving the best things of Hermosa Beach and did so by working well with the City Council.
“Steve was a good friend, a proud father of two talented kids and a devoted husband,” Jenkins added in the email.
Rick Koenig, former Hermosa Beach planning commissioner, said he knew Burrell for more than 20 years and called him “one of the good guys.” Also as a contractor, Koenig had worked on numerous projects with the city during Burrell’s years including the Hermosa Beach Museum and the Emergency Operations Center.
“He was somebody who was open to compromise,” Koenig said. “He was somebody who was very accessible. He always made time to listen and weigh the facts carefully before he'd make a decision and that's critical when you're a city manager, when you have the kind of responsibility that comes along with that job title.”
Upon Burrell's retirement, a 20-minute video, which can be seen on YouTube, was produced that traced the years from his birth to his years as city manager in Hermosa Beach.
According to the video, Burrell was born in Bradford, PA in 1947. Burrell’s family moved to Redondo Beach when he was five years old. Burrell was a graduate of West High School in Torrance and California State University, Long Beach, where he earned a degree in political science.
According to an article in The Daily Breeze after his retirement was announced, Burrell got his start in municipal government working as an assistant to the city manager in Rolling Hills Estates. Burrell went on to municipal management positions in San Clemente and Capitola before joining the city of Hermosa Beach on Jan. 3, 1994.
According to The Daily Breeze in 2012, Burrell also won praise from environmental leaders with projects that curbed pollution and promoted water conservation. The Pier Avenue Beautification Project and the Hermosa Strand Infiltration Project were public works projects Burrell helped secure funding.
Just a couple months after his retirement, Burrell was hired by the city as a consultant to provide background assistance during the settlement negotiations with Macpherson Oil Co., according to Jenkins.
Burrell is survived by his wife, Janice, two adult children and four grandchildren. Services will take place after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, according to the city.
The Hermosa Beach City Council adjourned its Wednesday, June 3 meeting in Burrell’s memory for “recognition of his many accomplishments” as city manager, according to a statement.