Speak Out Against Proposed Solar Ranch Near Manzanar!

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I strongly urge anyone who is available to come out to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power THIS SATURDAY to make your voice heard!  This project would impede upon the cultural landscape of the Manzanar Historic site.  See Press Release below

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LOS ANGELES — A public information meeting will be held on Saturday, November 16, 2013, at 10:00 AM, at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) headquarters in Downtown Los Angeles where members of the community are urged to speak out against a proposed solar energy generating facility that would be built near Manzanar National Historic Site.

The LADWP’s proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Project is a 200-megawatt solar energy facility that would consist of solar photovoltaic panel modules and associated infrastructure. The approximately 1,200-acre project site is located on City of Los Angeles-owned property east of the Owens River, but in a direct line of sight with the Manzanar National Historic Site, whichlies to the immediate west.

The Draft Environmental Impact Report is available at http://www.ladwp.com/envnotices.

The Manzanar Committee believes that the proposed solar ranch would destroy a significant portion of the historic landscape surrounding Manzanar National Historic Site.

“The importance of maintaining and enhancing the physical characteristics of the Manzanar National Historic Site cannot be downplayed or overlooked,” said Manzanar Committee Co-Chair Bruce Embrey. “One of the most powerful parts of Manzanar is the unobstructed view, and that many of the structures, gardens and other features of the World War II American concentration camp have not been bulldozed over or destroyed by ‘development.’”

Craig Tomiyoshi, Vice President of Public Affairs for the National Board of the Japanese American Citizens League, echoed those concerns.

“The Manzanar site is not only an important piece of the Japanese American story and experience during World War II, but also a visible reminder to all Americans about the importance of protecting the civil rights and liberties for all,” said Tomiyoshi. “The natural environment surrounding Manzanar plays a huge part in preserving for future generations the context of what those incarcerated at that site might have felt at that time.”

“I would strongly encourage anyone concerned about protecting the cultural landscape of Manzanar to attend this Public Information Meeting to let decision makers know why building the project on the proposed location is wrong, and encourage them to consider alternate sites,” added Tomiyoshi.

A coalition of community groups and individuals are working to ensure that the politically powerful LADWP, which owns the vast majority of the land in Owens Valley, understands their concerns and the implications of building the solar ranch in such close proximity to Manzanar.

“It’s easy after all these years to put what happened to the Japanese American community during World War II on the back shelf, as more ‘pressing’ or ‘important’ events occur,” Embrey noted. “If we are complacent, all the hard work of so many will be for naught. Tule Lake is facing a similar situation where the Federal Aviation Administration is attempting to build a fence that would bisect the site. Now, a massive solar farm with thousands of solar panels could distract from, and negatively impact, the Manzanar National Historic Site.”

“The Manzanar National Historic Site stands as one of the most impressive, thorough exhibits on the Japanese American incarceration experience,” Embrey added. “The National Park Service staff does an incredible job, day in and day out, of telling the story. It is essential that LADWP hears and understands the impact such a massive project would have on the site.”

“So many people fought so hard, endured and persevered to make sure our story, our history, is told and never forgotten. We have to be vigilant that none of that is denigrated in any way.”

The LADWP headquarters building is located at 111 North Hope Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012 (see map below). The meeting will be held in Conference Room 1, Level A. Parking is free in the LADWP’s underground parking garage. Signs will be posted to direct attendees to the meeting room.

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LA DWP on google maps

See more information at: http://blog.manzanarcommittee.org/

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Tuna Canyon Preservation Efforts

“Two minutes please”

By: Nancy Takayama, PSW District Staff

tunacanyon

Last month I was asked by a former CSUN student who was asking on behalf of a California State University at Northridge (CSUN) faculty member, if the San Fernando Valley had a Japanese American history tour.

It was an interesting thought and I answered, No. I had met this student while working on a research grant with the CSUN Asian American Studies, the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center and the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Citizens League.

We interviewed 20 Japanese American Nisei (second generation). The project was to uncover, research, collect and document the lost and forgotten existence of the Japanese and Japanese Americans in the San Fernando Valley, prewar and post war: The lost and forgotten history

Try going to the library or public records. You will find little or no records that the Japanese lived the San Fernando valley. It was through the oral histories collected and the research that were we able to discover that there were 132 Japanese American produce and flower farmers. Since they couldn’t own the land (Alien Land Law), they had to lease it, thus no records.

After WWII broke out, the Japanese and Japanese American families were removed from their homes. It was decades later, 3 decades for my family before they would talk about the removal, the relocations camps and the assembly centers. It took 60 years before the 20 oral history interviewees agreed to talk and record their personal stories about life before, during and after camps. With the discovery of the detention station internees are coming forward.

This detention station is part of our forgotten, lost history. This detention station and the stories that go with it are an integral part of U.S. history from 70 years ago. Let’s remember to not lose or forget the Japanese American part of U.S. history.

The San Fernando Valley has no historical sites representing the Japanese and the Japanese Americans in the valley.”

On Thursday, April 18th in Room 1010 of the Los Angeles City Hall the Cultural Heritage Commission met to vote on the Historic-Cultural Monument Application of the Tuna Canyon Detention Stations site.

The Tuna Canyon Detention Station “operated as a gateway to internment for civilians of Japanese, Japanese Peruvian, Italian and German descent. From its opening until May 1942, 1,490 Japanese males passed through the camp and were transferred to other internment camps…” (http://www.rafu.com/2013/04/commission-to-vote-on-monument-status-for-tuna-canyon-detention-station/)

More than a dozen community members came out to speak in support of designating the site as a Historical Cultural site. JACL Pacific Southwest District Governor, Ken Inouye, PSW District board member, Kanji Sahara and San Fernando Valley JACL board member and SFV Japanese American Community Center President, Nancy Oda.

Ken Bernstein, AICP, Principal City Planner Office of Historic Resources summarized the Los Angeles Department City Planning Recommendation Report stating “That the Cultural Heritage Commission not declare the property a Historic-Cultural Monument”.

The Cultural Historical Commission voted to support the City Planning Report not to support designating the Tuna Canyon Detention Station as a Cultural Historic Monument. The Cultural Historical Commission will now take their recommendation to the City Council for their vote. The application for designation will require 10 votes to pass.

What’s our next step if council votes against the Cultural Historic designation?

-Working with Councilman Alarcon in finding ways to create an educational and appropriate display of the detention station. The Cultural Historic Commission has required him to meet with the property owners.

-Check on other Historic Cultural designations on a State or Federal level.

JACL Pacific Southwest District and the San Fernando Valley Community Center will continue the efforts to save Tuna Canyon Detentions Station history.

For more information about the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, please view the following websites and documentation.

View a documentary short by John Newcombe on the Tuna Canyon Detention Station, “Rancho La Canada” (http://www.gcvoice.org/current-projects/vhgc.htm)

What Does Historic-Cultural Monument Status Mean?
http://www.preservation.lacity.org/commission/what-does-historic-cultural-monument-status-mean