Burbank police commissioner resigns
The Burbank Police Commission’s most controversial and perhaps its most dedicated member is stepping down at the end of tomorrow’s police commission meeting. Jim Etter sent a letter of resignation late yesterday to Police Commission Chair, Elise Stearns-Niesen, Mayor/City Council member, Jess Talamantes, Burbank Police Chief and Deputy Chief, Scott LaChasse and Tom Angel.
No, Etter is not going into hiding or moving out of town as some of his detractors would prefer. At the request of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, Etter has accepted an appointment to the County Fish & Game Commission.
In his resignation letter, Etter explains his decision: “My availability, with a new appointment from Supervisor Mike Antonovich, on a County Commission, which holds regularly Scheduled Meetings, and more widely recognized responsibility, will circumvent my attentiveness to Burbank Police Commission Business.”
The resignation letter comes hours before a planned discussion by the city council this evening, which most likely would have ended with Etter’s removal from the police commission. The reason for the discussion: some comments Etter made at a joint meeting of the city council and police commission last November.
During the past several months, this issue has been kept alive by Vice-Mayor/City Councilman Dave Golonski who apparently has been involved in a long-running feud with the Etter family. The city council should not be used as a platform for vendettas nor a place to settle old scores. The council should accept Etter’s resignation, thank him for his service, and move on to the process of selecting a new commissioner to replace him.
Since his appointment to the Burbank Police Commission back in 2009, Etter has been a rebel or renegade on the panel. When Etter arrived the commission was on the verge of being obsolete. It met once every four months and had very little contact with the public it was supposed to represent. Etter was fired-up to change things. He pushed hard, ruffled feathers, and sometimes, resorted to theatrics. However, the major achievement of the police commission in the last year should be credited to Etter.
From his first days on the commission, Etter championed the town hall meetings as a chance to have direct contact with the public and to hear residents’ concerns. Etter “dogged” his fellow commissioners about the town hall meetings until they became a reality. Now that the town hall meetings have revived the public’s awareness of the police commission and respect for it, many have claimed credit for them — but the real kudos should go to Etter.
During his tenure as police commissioner, Etter tried to be a problem solver who believed it was his job to stay in contact with residents and to voice their concerns. He made some mistakes — at times he was too quick to act or speak without considering the consequences. Nevertheless in my view, his achievements far outweigh his failings.
Hillside view home debate
In a move that shocked many in the audience at last Tuesday’s city council meeting, four city council members voted to uphold an appeal of a development permit for a two-story home development at 1030 Via Alta in the Burbank hills. I was surprised. The city council got it right on this issue.
The appeal was filed by homeowners Daniel and Alice Parks and Dave and Alexis Hanson. Both couples spoke passionately about the erosion of their view this project would cause and how it would not fit in with the character of a neighborhood where views are prized above everything else.
The Parks produced excellent visuals/graphics showing how the proposed project would damage their panoramic view. They were supported by a number of residents — over 40 of them signed a petition against the development project.
On the other side, Aram and Marine Papazian, their architect, George Avetisyan, and their supporters.
The Papazians have been through several design changes and will have to now go through more. They have a nice size lot with options. However, that is not always the case, especially in the hillside areas. Hopefully, this will send a message views are part of the character of the Burbank hillside communities and will be protected.
Council member Emily Gabel-Luddy left the council chambers and did not hear the debate to avoid a conflict. Luddy once accepted a campaign contribution from the Papazians.
A second chance for a group of camphor trees
The camphor trees along Keystone Street next to John Burroughs High School are gorgeous. Tall and sturdy — creating a huge green canopy. Despite all the talk of protecting the environment and going green — five of these trees were at risk of being removed. The reason: their berries, branches, and roots might damage a new track being constructed as part of the Memorial Field project.
Last Tuesday night, the city council decided to save the trees. This week, work crew are out trimming these trees, which will be done periodically to reduce the amount of twigs and berries that could fall on the track. A wise decision by the city council.