Click on each decade to see the description
There is evidence that Tongva Indians lived in this rural area nestled in the Verdugo Mountains.
During the Depression, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, known as Tuna Camp, was built on the property.
The CCC camp was converted to serve as one of the first internment depots during WWII for people of Japanese, German, and Italian descent. The Tuna Canyon Detention Station (TCDS) operated from 1941 to 1943.
The Property was then converted to a reform school for boys operated by the County of Los Angeles.
A group of doctors formed a partnership to purchase the land that would become the Verdugo Hills Golf Course. The course opened in June 1960. The partnership was designed to dissolve upon the death of the last doctor.
On November 7, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the Wartime Violation of Italian American Civil Liberties Act. The law led to the creation of a report by the US Government that detailed injustices suffered by Italian Americans during World War II, and a formal acknowledgment of such injustices by the President.
Records showed the heirs of the doctors sold the property to Michael Hoberman/Snowball West Investments, LP (SWI) for $7.6 million.
Mark Handel/MWD Development (apparently on behalf of SWI) addressed the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council (STNC) and the public, presenting two options for the property: over 300 units of housing, including hillside housing; or 320,000 square feet of retail. (Note: a WalMart supercenter is typically 240,000 square feet.)
Mark Handel made a similar presentation to the Crescenta Valley Town Council.
This was the first time the foothill communities learned that the golf course property had been purchased with plans to demolish the golf course and develop the property for residential or commercial use. Public consensus opposed both ideas. At the time, the community thought that Mark Handel was the property owner as he was the face the public saw.
Representatives of MWD Development attended the STNC Design Advisory Committee (later called Land Use Committee) meetings to promote the development and soliciting suggestions for architecture design and color palettes. Committee and community members considered this premature and said so.
Late in the year, a small group of foothill community members from Sunland-Tujunga, La Crescenta and Glendale gathered to organize the Verdugo Hills Golf Course Committee (VHGC Committee). Their goal: to preserve the VHGC, its recreation, surrounding native habitat, and history, as well as avoid the negative environmental impacts that would result from a large residential and/or commercial development at the corner of Tujunga Canyon Blvd./La Tuna Canyon Rd./Honolulu Ave.
Mark Handel/MWH Development filed an Environmental Assessment Form with the City of Los Angeles and sought to use a negative declaration as the CEQA clearance for the project. Michael Hoberman/Snowball West Investments is listed as the owner of the property on that application.
After MWH Development filed for vesting zoning changes, vesting tract map and other entitlements, the VHGC Committee and VOICE [Volunteers Organized in Conserving the Environment] called for a complete Environmental Impact Report rather than a Mitigated Negative Declaration, which would have short circuited the full environmental process. The City agreed to require an EIR.
Community members throughout the valley rallied in defense of the VHGC. Organizations, large and small, joined in support of the VHGC. Elected representatives also joined the effort.
In May, then LA City Councilmember Wendy Greuel learned that then Sacramento Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes had introduced a bill, AB 212, which would have directly benefited MWH Development and Snowball West Investments.
The bill, created at the behest of Mark Handel/MWH Development, would have violated the City’s “home rule” and inserted State authority over local land use matters. AB 212 would have forced the City of LA to grant a zoning change within the parameters set by a current zoning law, even if that law was not in compliance with the City’s general plan.
Greuel launched a vigorous lobbying effort on behalf of the City and told the community that Fuentes was forced to withdraw the bill before it went to a vote. This episode raised further questions in the minds of community members as to the credibility of the developer and property owner.
A Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was released to the public in June 2009. Based on the number and volume of comments and interest in the DEIR, the City Planning Department extended the comment period. Public comments on the DEIR addressed a wide range of issues, such as impacts on local schools, utilities/water usage and other City services; loss of public recreation & natural habitat; loss of historical record, i.e., Tongva Indians/CCC camp/Tuna Canyon Detention Station, increased traffic impact on the already treacherous Tujunga Canyon Blvd./La Tuna Canyon Rd./Honolulu Ave. traffic corridor.
In the years since the close of public comment, there have been rumors, including statements from the City Planning Department, that portions of the draft document would be recirculated for public input. As of mid-2015, that has not happened.
Around this same time, Mark Handel/MWH Development disappeared from the project.
In October, Michael Hoberman and his attorney, Fred Gaines, addressed the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council Land Use Committee. Hoberman explained that he inherited the project from MWH Development, implying that he was the new owner of the property and had not been involved with Handel (notwithstanding the fact that his name was on the original ownership documents).
Then LA City Councilmember Paul Krekorian nominated the VHGC for Prop O consideration. Prop O, the water bond, passed by City of Los Angeles voters in 2004, funds water projects that help the City meet federal water guidelines.
The Citizens Oversight Advisory Committee voted to add the Verdugo Hills Storm Water Project to the Prop O funding queue.
In October having learned about federal grants that could be used to provide a memorial for this historic site, then City Councilmember Richard Alarcon proposed the Tuna Canyon Detention Station for Historic Cultural Monument (HCM) status. City Council supported the motion unanimously.
In April the City’s Cultural Heritage Commission voted against HCM status for TCDS. The matter returned to the City Council for further deliberation.
On June 25th, the Council, after negotiation with Fred Gaines on behalf of Hoberman, voted 10-0 to designate an acre of oak trees for HCM status for the TCDS. Tuna Canyon Detention Station became Historic Cultural Monument #1039.
The Council in the same action established a working group to begin the process of memorializing TCDS. After meeting four times during the summer of 2013, and appearing to have arrived at a consensus plan for the site, the attorney for Snowball West Investments revealed that they had filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles to remove the HCM designation. That lawsuit is still pending.
Reverend Yoshi Tsuyuki
First Anniversary Program
Alien Land Law
Dr. Kanji Sahara, speaker
Reverend Daisho Tana
Dr. Duncan Ryuken Williams, speaker
Fundraiser at Nishi Hongwanji Kaikan honoring
Dr. Lloyd Hitt
First fundraiser at Nishi Hongwanji Kaikan
Entertainment by Hiroshima Honored Minoru Tonai and Dr. Lloyd Hitt
Aratani C.A.R.E. Intern program
Create Traveling Exhibit
“Only the Oaks Remain”
National Park Service
Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant. NPS JACS Project Director: Kanji Sahara
Grand Opening of Exhibit
San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center
Secretary Norm Mineta attends
Residency of traveling exhibit at San Diego History Museum
Hosted by the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego
Residency of traveling exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum for sixteen weeks
Honored Dr. Kanji Sahara
Residency of traveling exhibit at Manzanar Historic Society
Residency of traveling exhibit at Bolton Hall, California
Dr.Lloyd Hitt hosted it every day.
Honored Marc Stirdivant
Quiet Cannon Fundraiser
Legacy Project 1 NPS JACS
“Only the Oaks Remain” produces by Grateful Crane
Legacy Project 1 funded by the National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant to interview twenty five descendants.
Project Director: June Berk
Residency of traveling exhibit at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, Oregon by train
Residency of Traveling Exhibit at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum,California
Published exhibit book
Residency at the Military Intelligence Museum Learning Center at the Presidio, San Francisco, California
Hosted by the National Japanese Historical Society (NJAH)
Installation of three HCM signs on the intersection of Tuna Canyon, Tujunga Canyon, and Honolulu spearheaded by James Okazaki
Major donation from REISSA FOUNDATION
Letter to the Honorable Monica Rodriguez. Read the letter here.
LA City Planning Commission votes to approve a 215 unit residential development
Legacy Project 2 funded by the National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant to interview twenty five more descendants.
Project Director: June Berk
Residency of the traveling exhibit at The Museum of the San Fernando Valley, California
Residency of the traveling exhibit at the Cerritos Millennium Library, California spearheaded by Ernie Nishii
Founding Board Member, Marc Stirdivant passes
Letter to the Planning and Land Use Management Committee written by State Senator Anthony Portantino. Read the letter here.
Quiet Cannon Fundraiser
Legacy Project II NPS JACS
“Letters for Our Grandchildren”
Based on the Kenzo and Chica Sugino story produced by Grateful Crane Ensemble
Honored June Aochi Berk, LPI Project Director
Major donation from the REISSA Foundation
Dr. Russell Endo pilgrimage to Tuna Canyon
Planning Land Use Management Committee hearing then the next day, Los Angeles City Council denies Snowball West new zoning. After two continuances, the letter below from Snowball West Investments LP, was issued to the Planning and Land Use Management Committee. See Facebook for updates. Read the letter here.
The Los Angeles City Council denied Snowball’s application for a zone change on the property. Click here to read the details.