By P.C. Staff
Judge Joanne O’Donnell on Aug. 12 denied Snowball West’s petition to negate the 2013 resolution by the Los Angeles City Council to set aside one acre of land — now the site of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course — for a memorial to the Tuna Canyon Detention Station.
Present at the decision, which was handed down at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, were Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition members Lloyd Hitt, Nancy Oda, Kanji Sahara, Bill Stiles, Marc Stirdivant and Nancy Takayama.
After three trips to the Stanley Mosk Courthouse with coalition members, Oda recalled, “We look forward to working with the owners to make a memorial onsite.We are pleased that the city’s designation was upheld as legal.”
Upon hearing O’Donnell’s ruling, Snowball West lawyer Fred Gaines argued that the resolution was faulty because the land designated was a geometric shape that was drawn on a photograph, further stating that a memorial cannot be built with information that is not concise.
Snowball West Investments currently owns the golf course, and it wants to build a housing subdivision on the property, which is located in Tujunga, Calif. During World War II, Tuna Canyon Detention Station held more than 2,000 people, mostly Japanese Americans. At one point, there were seven barracks, an infirmary, mess hall and office buildings. The camp closed in 1943 and buildings were torn down to make way for the golf course.
Snowball West has acknowledged the significance of the area but has maintained that formal landmark status will make development more difficult.
In the meantime, more details on the site may be necessary. If Snowball West appeals the decision, the current City Council would then review the new report. The current makeup of the City Council has changed since the 2013 council voted unanimously in favor of the resolution, introduced by then-Councilmember Richard Alarcon.
O’Donnell is the third judge on this case. She is expected to make her final ruling in the next few weeks.