Los Angeles City Planning staff has let Volunteers Organized in Conserving the Environment (VOICE) members know that segments of the Draft Environmental Impact Report on the proposed development of the Verdugo Hills Golf Course property will be released for additional comments on Dec. 3, in other words, today. Planning will allow 45 days for the public to weigh in, making the deadline to comment Jan. 19, 2016.
For those of you not familiar with this property, it’s located on La Tuna Canyon Road, at the corner of Tujunga Canyon Boulevard, and has been under development pressure for a decade. It has a rich history, first developed as a Civilian Conservation Corps facility during the 1930s to house those working in our local mountains. Shortly after Pearl Harbor was bombed bringing the U.S. into WWII, it was turned into an internment camp for men considered a risk to national security, mostly ethnic Japanese, both U.S. citizens and aliens here legally. Some Americans with German and Italian origins and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry were also locked up there. The families of those interned there were sent to other facilities throughout the Western U.S. such as Manzanar in the Owens Valley, now a national historic site, http://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm.
The property was purchased by a group of doctors in the 1960s which built and opened the three-par, 18-hole golf course and ran it for many years. Only part of the property was developed; hillside portions remain open space and serve as wildlife habitat and corridors. The doctors sold to developers roughly 10 years ago and the community rose up to fight the loss of one of the few remaining recreational facilities in the area. Attendees at the June 27, 2005 kick off meeting for Crescenta Valley Heritage, the precursor to CVCA, noted saving the Verdugo Hills Golf Course as their reason for joining. Incidentally, saving “the top of Rosemont” was also cited and I’m very thankful that the Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy has accomplished that: http://www.arroyosfoothills.org/rosemont/.
The project has evolved over the years and the current proposal is for a 221-home, mostly small-lot, development with townhomes along the La Tuna Canyon Road side and a few single-family homes along the northeastern edge of the property. The townhomes would be accessed via two entrances along La Tuna Canyon Road and there would be one or more driveways from Tujunga Canyon Boulevard to the single-family homes.
The DEIR sections expected to be recirculated are Greenhouse Gases, which was not required during the initial draft circulation; Cultural, because the historic monument status for the former Tuna Camp WWII relocation center was granted after the initial DEIR; and Traffic, necessary due to updated traffic counts and study.
The VHGC is in Tujunga but only a couple of blocks from the Glendale border and the impact of an additional 220-plus homes would negatively affect the entire Crescenta Valley. I believe the additional traffic from the project would have a large negative impact on the La Tuna Canyon Road and Lowell Avenue on and off ramps to/from the 210 Freeway. This would be on top of the traffic generated from the already approved 220-plus home Canyon Hills project to the west and the smaller, much better designed and more suitable 28 condominiums project in the works for 4201 Pennsylvania Ave. to the east. Also the area has seen a lot of infill development and single-family homes demolished and replaced by multiple units in the past few years.
The current owner continues to operate the complex and amenities such as a disc golf course have been added over the years. The Tees on the Green restaurant features patio dining under heritage oak trees that once sheltered the prisoners in the Tuna Camp Detention Center.
Like Rockhaven, it’s easier to understand why so many of us are so passionate to preserve the property if you visit it. Fortunately, VHGC is still open to the public. You can play golf or disc golf, use the driving range, or have a great burger and beer, either inside with lots of sports on TV or outside under the shady trees. If you have out-of-town visitors for the holidays it would be a wonderful respite from the frenzied crowds at all the usual roadside attractions around the Southland. For all the details see: http://www.verdugohillsgolfcourse.com/. Check it out so you can put a personal touch on your comments.
VOICE has continued to be involved in preservation efforts. For the current information on how you can help see: http://gcvoice.org/verdugo-hills-golf-course/ and its Facebook page.
Sharon Weisman is a founding member of the CVCA. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.