Tule Lake Committee Calls LADWP’s Proposed Solar Ranch Adjacent to Manzanar “Inappropriate And Offensive”

For years, the Manzanar Committee and the Tule Lake Committee have stood, side-by-side, in our efforts to preserve, protect and interpret Japanese American World War II confinement sites, such as Manzanar and Tule Lake, for future generations. Once again, The Tule Lake Committee is supporting our efforts to protect Manzanar, announcing their opposition to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch. Here is the letter they sent to LADWP.


December 14, 2013

Ms. Nadia Parker
Environmental Planning and Assessment
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
111 North Hope Street, Room 1044
Los Angeles, California 90012-2607

Dear Ms. Parker:

I write on behalf of the Tule Lake Committee, the grass-roots organization of survivors and their descendants of the Tule Lake concentration camp in Northern California, where over 24,000 persons of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated without due process of law during World War II due to racism, fear, and economic greed. Tule Lake and Manzanar are companion sites; they are the two World War II concentration camps within California that were used to strip Japanese Americans of their dignity and their freedom. They are civil rights sites and National Historic Landmarks of extraordinary significance in our nation’s history, for they tell a story of racial intolerance and the failure of our nation’s principle of equal justice under the law.

We recently learned of the plan by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to construct a massive solar panel “farm” adjacent to the Manzanar National Historic Site, a division of the National Park Service. That LADWP would choose to construct such a project so close to the Manzanar concentration camp site raises the question of whether LADWP is ignorant of the history of the site on which this project encroaches or is aware of the history but simply does not care. In either case, to go ahead with the construction would signal a clear lack of respect for that history, those who lived through it, and those who come to learn about it.

Since the site’s designation as a State Historic Landmark and the 1973 placement of a bronze plaque to mark the site, vandals in the Owens Valley used the plaque for target practice, scarred the surface of the bronze marker with gashes, and bragged of urinating on the plaque to express their contempt for this historic site in their midst. The current proposal of the LADWP to build an intrusive 1,200-acre industrial solar installation, while a less primitive form of expression, communicates the same racist disrespect for our history and would be even more distracting and disturbing to visitors than the defacement of the plaque.

The Owens Valley is a vast region, with ample open space. Surely LADWP can identify a more appropriate location to build a solar generation station and avoid encroaching on a unique and significant national historic site. It would be as inappropriate and offensive to place such a facility next to Manzanar as it would be to place one next to the Gettysburg National Military Park. As a governmental entity that serves the large and diverse population of Los Angeles, we believe you should seek a more appropriate location for the proposed solar generating station.

Sincerely yours,
Hiroshi Shimizu
President
Tule Lake Committee


Community members are urged to sign an online petition opposing the LADWP proposal. To view/sign the petition on Change.org, click on: Halt LADWP’s Plan To Build A 1,200-Acre Solar Energy Generating Station Adjacent to Manzanar National Historic Site.

Community members are also strongly urged to send letters to LADWP in opposition to the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch. Letters should be addressed to:

Nadia Parker
Environmental Planning and Assessment
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power
111 North Hope Street, Room 1044
Los Angeles, California 90012-2607

Comments may also be sent via e-mail, and should be addressed to Ms. Parker at nadia.parker@ladwp.com, or to Charles Holloway, at charles.holloway@ladwp.com.

All letters and e-mails must be received by LADWP no later than 5:00 PM PST on December 20, 2013.

Those who would like to review the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the project can read it on the web at: http://www.ladwp.com/envnotices.

For more information, please call the Manzanar Committee at (323) 662-5102, or send e-mail to info@manzanarcommittee.org.

The views expressed in this story are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of the Manzanar Committee.

LEAD PHOTO: Hiroshi Shimizu, President of the Tule Lake Committee. Photo courtesy Hiroshi Shimizu.

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