British press hammers Burbank

Molly Shore

Sue Wilson couldn’t believe her ears when her mother called from

England to tell her that a British magazine listed Burbank as a city

to avoid when visiting the Los Angeles area.


Jean Davies, Wilson’s 81-year-old mother, subscribes to Chat, a

weekly magazine published in the United Kingdom. While leafing

through the Aug. 28 edition, Davies came across a story that compared

Burbank to several cities known for gang violence.


“Most of L.A. is safe, and gang warfare is decreasing, but it’s

still a reality, so be sure to avoid Burbank, South Central, East Los

Angeles and Long Beach after dark,” the story read.

“It just annoyed her,” said Wilson, who became so incensed she

fired off a letter to Chat publisher Paul Merill demanding a

retraction and an apology.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said of the

letter, “but it did outrage me.”


Wilson sent copies of the Chat story to Burbank Police Chief

Thomas Hoefel and members of the Burbank City Council.

Hoefel apparently is as mystified as Wilson by the claim that

Burbank is a dangerous area.

“Obviously, Burbank is an extremely safe place,” Hoefel said. “We

have the lowest crime rate since the mid-1960s, especially violent


Wilson is not the only one angered by the article.


Burbank Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Susan Bowers plans

to write a letter to the magazine’s publisher seeking a retraction.

“We take it kind of personally when people slander our city,”

Bowers said. “Whoever wrote the article didn’t do their research.

It’s so far out, it’s bordering on the ridiculous.”

Councilman Todd Campbell said he had not seen a copy of the

magazine article, but was surprised to hear the city had received bad


“I often think of Burbank as a Mayberry town compared to the rest

of the Los Angeles region,” Campbell said. "[The story] is very


Last year, Burbank was rated the 55th safest city out of 327

around the country in the eighth annual Morgan Quitno “Safest City”

rankings. The ranking were based on 2000 crime numbers reported by

local law agencies to the FBI. The cities ranked had at least 75,000


Wilson worries that the false impression her friends in England

already have of life in the U.S. will be reinforced by the negative

comments in the magazine story.

“They might think, ‘Oh my God, where does she live?’ ”