In a symbolic move, the Glendale City Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution supporting the historic designation of a portion of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course, a Los Angeles site considered a Crescenta Valley resource.
The designation refired a previously calmed controversy regarding the site, home to one of the first Japanese detention centers during World War II. Historic preservationists, who have long fought to block a proposed 229-unit residential project, were partly mollified when the developer, Snowball West Investment, agreed to set aside a one-acre plot as a memorial.
The Tuna Canyon Detention Center opened in 1941 and housed as many as 1,500 Japanese Americans.
“I think this is a great idea,” Councilman Frank Quintero said. “I think this does justice to what happened to the Japanese Americans.”
Los Angeles and Snowball West agreed in June to set aside an oak grove on the site of the main camp and erect a monument within the development, which is proposed to take up 28 acres of the 58-acre golf course.
But later that month, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously voted to name the one-acre plot a historic landmark, an official designation Snowball West claims may add unnecessary approvals and bureaucratic delays to the larger project. On Aug. 7, the developer filed suit to reverse the decision.
City Atty. Mike Garcia said by passing the resolution, Glendale would not be opening the doors for a lawsuit of its own from the developer.
“L.A.'s decision actually had an effect on their property. We're just saying we like what they did,” Garcia said.
The Los Angeles City Council overruled its Cultural Heritage Commission's denial of the historic designation, which cited the lack of original structures in its reasoning.
When the golf course was built in the 1960s, all buildings were demolished and the landscaping was significantly changed, according to a Glendale report.
Still, there is precedent to make a site a historic landmark, even if former significant buildings have been destroyed, the report stated.