Glendale Council Supports Historic Designation of Tuna Canyon

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Rafu Staff Report

GLENDALE — The Glendale City Council on Aug. 20 unanimously passed a resolution supporting the designation of the former site of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station as a historic-cultural monument.

The resolution was drafted and submitted by city staff, including City Manager Scott Ochoa and City Attorney Michael Garcia, at the request of City Councilmember Ara Najarian. It supports a motion adopted by the Los Angeles City Council on June 25.

Glendale City Councilmember Ara Najarian

Originally a Civilian Conservation Corps camp, Tuna Canyon was transformed during World War II into an Immigration and Naturalization Service camp where “enemy aliens” of Japanese, German and Italian descent, as well as Japanese Peruvians forcibly brought into the U.S., were held before being sent to other camps. After the war, the site was used by Los Angeles County as a probation school for young boys.

The buildings were razed in 1960 to make way for the construction of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course, which is still in use today. The property owner, Snowball West Investments, plans to build housing on the site and objects to historic landmark designation, which would impose restrictions on development.

Landmark designation was proposed last year by then-Los Angeles City Councilmember Richard Alarcon with the support of Tujunga-area historical groups and members of the Japanese American community. The city’s Cultural Heritage Commission recommended against landmark status, noting that none of the original buildings remain. Alarcon argued that many sites in Los Angeles have become landmarks even when the historic structures were gone.

After the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee heard testimony from both sides, the full council attempted to reach a compromise by limiting landmark status to one acre containing oak and sycamore trees that date back to World War II.

Tuna Canyon advocates were surprised when the developer, who had been participating in a working group with community and city representatives, filed suit against the city to have the council’s motion repealed.

The Glendale resolution is non-binding as that city has no jurisdiction over the site.

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