Thursday, June 20, 2013

Saving the Golf Course and Recognizing Tuna Canyon Detention Station

We here at The Foothills Observed believe that preventing the development of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course into over 225 homes is mission critical; as is recognizing that the property was once the site of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, during the Japanese Internment of World War II; a horrific chapter in America's history.

We also believe that the two are separate issues, while related. Building the homes does not mean that the site can not be recognized; recognizing the important historic nature of the property does not mean homes won't be built.

Because we want to see both happen, we feel it's important all of us are informed as to what is happening with this movement and that you have the information you need so that you may act accordingly. Many people are doing a lot of great work around this effort and it's incumbent the community supports, in order to prevent the community crippling development from being built, as well as recognize our local history, good and bad.

Tomorrow, Friday the 21st, the City Council will meet and will consider recent actions around the historic designation that have occurred at both the City's Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) and the City Council's Planning and Land Use Management Committee (PLUM).

In a nutshell, the Cultural Heritage Commission denied a request by Councilman Richard Alarcon to designate the property as a historic landmark. One of the concerns some members of the Commission had was that this effort was merely a strategy to block development.

Following that, the Planning and Land Use Management Committee met to determine if the Council could overrule the CHC and make the historic designation. PLUM opted to not take this action and to defer decisions until July 23, pending the results of a "working group."

In the instance of both the CHC and PLUM meetings, there was fantastic representation and participation from residents of Sunland-Tujunga and other Foothills communities, local historians and experts and members of the Japanese Community and others who had historic, personal connections to Tuna Canyon Detention Station. The demonstration of the community's feelings around this matter was surely clear to City officials.

Here's what the City Council will consider tomorrow, according to the agenda posted on their website. The Planning and Laud Use Management Committee recommends the following actions:

1. INSTRUCT the Department of City Planning (DCP) to report on how many times the City  Council has initiated a historical designation by Council action, without findings and conditions; the Cultural Heritage Commission (CHC) declines the designation; and Council overturns the CHC's determination without the consent of the property owner.

2. REQUEST the City Attorney to report on if there are any legal vulnerabilities if the City Council overturns the CHC's determination to decline a historical designation.

3. ESTABLISH a working group, consisting of the property owner and representative, experts or historians from the Japanese community (no more than five people), and DCP staff, to report to the Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee prior to July 31, 2013 to develop ideas on how to recognize the historical and cultural significance of the site.

4. EXTEND, for good cause, the 90 day time limit for Council to act for a maximum of 15 days, pursuant to the Los Angeles Administrative Code Section 22.171.10(f).

5. REFER the matter to the PLUM Committee for consideration on July 23, 2013

Each of which are important steps to resolving the matter; however no one should expect that the Council will extend historic status to TCDC at tomorrow's meeting. We here feel it's important to level set expectations, should confusion exist elsewhere.

It is important that ST residents participate and engage on this matter; so that we may ultimately stop the development and achieve the historic recognition. One would surmise that with a matter this complex, there will be several possible avenues for resolution.

To read the City documentation on the matter further (which should give anyone a good history and has viewpoints from all involved), click here.



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