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Alarcon suggests making Verdugo Hills Golf Course a historic site

As neighbors fight plans for a housing development, the councilman proposes adding the land, which once held a World War II detention center, to L.A.'s list of historic and cultural monuments.

October 29, 2012|By Mark Kellam, Los Angeles Times
  • A housing development is planned for the site of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course in Tujunga.
A housing development is planned for the site of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course… (Christina House, For the…)

L.A. Councilman Richard Alarcon is hoping to save the Verdugo Hills Golf Course from residential development by adding it to the city's list of historic and cultural monuments, citing its history as a detention center for Japanese Americans during World War II.

Residents contend the planned housing project would bring a torrent of vehicle traffic to the urban-rural area and get rid of a long-standing recreational resource. Other efforts to prevent development on the land have included failed attempts to rezone it or cobble together enough grants and government funding to buy it outright.

A community meeting to discuss the councilman's proposal will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at the North Valley Neighborhood City Hall in Tujunga.

Alarcon contends that residential development would degrade the site's historic value.

"There is a rich and important history in the northeast San Fernando [Valley] that must be protected so kids today and generations in the future can learn from our past," the he said in a statement. "I strongly believe that a housing development would be inconsistent with our goal to preserve the legacy of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station site."

During World War II, the federal government converted the former Civilian Conservation Corps camp — where the golf course is now located — into the Tuna Canyon Detention Station.

Tuna Canyon was "a gateway to internment," according to Alarcon's office: a barbed-wire enclosure with armed troops to receive people who were considered "enemy aliens" and had been taken into custody after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Snowball West Investments, which owns the golf course, plans to move forward with the residential development but is willing to work with historic preservation supporters, said company spokesman Michael Hoberman.

"As far as we know, there is nothing at the property anymore that was from the camp," Hoberman said.

If a building used at the camp is found, he said, Snowball West officials would be open to discussions on how to preserve it. "I'm a supporter of preserving history," Hoberman said. The company also would be willing to install a plaque within the development commemorating the site as a former detention center.

Past efforts to save the golf course include a proposal to build a storm water treatment facility on the site using funds from Proposition O, approved about eight years ago by Los Angeles voters to improve local water quality.

mark.kellam@latimes.com

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