Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Historic designation expected for former Tuna Canyon internment camp

Tuna Canyon Internment Camp

David Scott/The Scott Family and Little Landers Historical Society

A stylized aerial view of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station. More than 1,000 people of Japanese descent were held here before being transferred to longer-stay camps further inland or out-of-state.

At least one acre of the former Tuna Canyon Detention Station that is now the site of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course is expected to be designated a historic-cultural monument by the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday. 

During World War II, the detention center held more than 2,000 people, mostly Japanese-Americans. The golf course is now owned by Snowball West Investments, which wants to build a housing subdivision on the property. Designating something a historic-cultural monument means there are additional reviews if changes are made to the site.

“We need to commemorate the sacrifices, the pain of our forefathers, the men and women who went through such a devastating experience,” Councilman Ed Reyes, chair of the Planning and Land Use Management Committee, said last week. 

City staff initially denied the designation, arguing that the site no longer has any of the original structures. But Councilman Richard Alarcon, who represents the area, noted the city already has 19 historic-cultural monuments without buildings.

“The fact is that people were very quiet about the internment of Japanese, Italians and Germans at the time of World War II. And after World War II, they continued to be quiet,” Alarcon said. “But history cries out for the truth.”

A vote is scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. 

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