Letter to the Editor: DWP’s “long, checkered history” on Manzanar

US NEWS MANZANAR 2 OCManzanar Committee Launches Letter-Writing Campaign In Opposition To LADWP Solar Ranch Near Manzanar

LOS ANGELES — On December 5, the Manzanar Committee announced the launch of a letter-writing campaign, urging community members to send letters to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) stating their opposition to the proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch, a 1,200-acre solar energy generating station that would be constructed east of the Owens River, but in a direct line of sight with the Manzanar National Historic Site, which lies to the immediate west.

Although the proposed site would generate electricity that would be delivered to LADWP customers in Los Angeles, the site’s approximately one million solar panels, along with buildings, large equipment, transformers, a substation, transmission lines, and much more, 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.’”

Although LADWP has supported the Manzanar Pilgrimage for many years, this proposal is yet another blot on their poor record regarding the site.

“LADWP has a long and checkered history regarding the establishment of the Manzanar National Historic Site,” Embrey noted. “LADWP opposed efforts to establish a National Historic Site at Manzanar, arguing instead for a local memorial park. Even as late as 1991, they continued their efforts to prevent the establishment of a National Historic Site under the auspices of the National Park Service.”

Embrey stressed that the proposed solar ranch represents new heights for LADWP’s insensitivity towards Manzanar.

“The very idea that any land in or around the Manzanar National Historic Site could be used for a massive generating facility would not harm the ongoing efforts to preserve and understand the tragedy of justice that occurred there is simply beyond insensitive, and it’s not just insensitive to the Japanese American community, the survivors of America’s concentration camps and their families,” Embrey lamented. “That gross insensitivity extends to the efforts of the National Park Service, and others who have worked so hard to bring this brief, but essential, part of American History to light.”

Community members are urged to send letters to LADWP in opposition to the Southern Owens Valley Solar Farm. 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.

A form letter that can be used is available for download at: http://manzanarcommittee.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/sovsr-form-letter.pdf.

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.


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32 Responses to Letter to the Editor: DWP’s “long, checkered history” on Manzanar

  1. Steve December 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    Nice spin but not true. The power generated will go to the power grid and be used by any one using the grid for power not just LA.

    We are constantly closing areas to save them from destruction by visitors. Now we should not build anything with in eye sight of of these set aside places. Please stop holding on to the past so hard that we cannot build a future.

  2. Philip Anaya December 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

    It is time for the DWP to reconsider the Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch Project. Mr. Nichols, General Manager of the DWP has heard the response to the Project from the Communities of People who have all expressed opposition to the location, the scale, the expense, the CEQA process ,questions of the Interconnection Generation Queue List Priority and most important with the Manzanar Rewards Preferred Site. Questions of respect for the history and the future of how we will address the treatment of one another is part of this equation. DWP should deeply appreciate the Community for the expression of opposition for this project. There have been comments submitted for this now 3 or 4 time extended comment period that contain precise and knowledgeable information and suggestions that will help the DWP conclude that there are indeed some alternatives to get us to sustainable renewable energy generation that the DWP is mandated to provide. The Owens Valley has sunshine and a Population that agrees with the concept of renewable energy . DWP needs to work with the community to plan for development instead of ramrodding and imposing Industrial Scale Development in the Inyo. The County is working on a renewable energy component of the General Plan . Even though the DWP is claiming an exemption to Inyo County’s self determination for renewable energy they should know by now that cooperation and stewardship is a 2 way street and there is a continued concern and opposition to DWP behavior of the past . We are starting our next 100 years and no Lippencott Eaton Muholland miracle is going to save Los Angeles from itself and in the Owens Valley such behavior is no longer tolerated without keen opposition.
    Certainly there can never be a need for another Manzanar in our America. We need this place as it is, as it was and how it will always be to be to be reminded of that. That’s what Historic Sites are all about. How’s that for a spin that rings true.

    • Ken Warner December 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

      You think you speak for the entire Owen’s valley. You don’t speak for me. Manzar is not a holy site. It’s not Golgotha. The idea that everything one can see from Manzanar is somehow sacrosanct is absurd.

      The U.S. has to be free from MidEast oil and LADWP’s project is one small step toward that goal regardless of the history of LADWP’s involvement with the Owen’s Valley.

      You want viewshed — I got your viewshed right here:


      • Benett Kessler December 7, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

        Something to consider – why did DWP pick that exact spot directly across from the Manzanar museum and Historic Site when they have the entire Owens Valley that they own? The Japanese-Americans who have fought for the site wonder that as well. I don’t think anyone is objecting to solar power. Just questioning the specific location.

        • Ken Warner December 7, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

          Benett, you are in the best position to ask LADWP about that. Why don’t you?

          I think it’s a non-issue that has been seized and inflated beyond reason by people who have been fighting LADWP for so long that they are looking for any little thing to grab onto and use in their opposition to LADWP — which in general I support. In this case, I think it weakens those opponents because the issue is supersilious.

          • Benett Kessler December 7, 2013 at 7:13 pm #

            Certainly, you are entitled to your opinion. So, are the Japanese-Americans and others who have objections to the project. For them it is not a non-issue. As Philip Anaya points out, they have their own reality that drives their views – just as you do. That’s worth respecting in the face of an agency that has historically bullied the Owens Valley.
            Benett Kessler

        • mongo the idiot December 8, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

          I think they are pumping at warp speed while we all talk about the Solar Ranch.
          Either that, or this is a negotiation ploy leading to the proposal of a less desirable area for the install. Either way, they are not stupid, and many of the valley residents want a shot at the jobs.
          Personally I don’t give a damn outside of keeping nature in balance with development.

        • Desert Tortoise December 9, 2013 at 10:14 am #

          The site the DWP chose, if the account I read is correct, was once the landfill for the internment camp. It is not a pristine site by any means. It strikes me the proposed use is appropriate, and if you ever look at similar PV arrays, from two or three miles away you won’t even notice it. The panels are dark colored and non reflective by design as they must absorb as much solar energy as possible. Nothing stands much more than six feet off the ground. Behind a fence it won’t be noticed from US 395. This angst is manufactured.

          Meanwhile, as the Owens Valley looks back, LA sets trends and established paradigms for the future while building lots of the things that people all over the world want to buy.

      • Trouble December 7, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

        Ken, you take those pictures yourself? 🙂

      • Russ Monroe December 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

        The absurdity Ken, is that anyone thinks we will become free of middle east oil by paving the planet with silicon. Your basic premise is dead wrong. The reason that the DW&P has said repeatedly, in public, on the record, that they have NO plans to build new transmission lines in the valley is because filling this valley with solar panels or wind turbines is a stupid idea and much more importantly; a loosing investment. DW&P understands this.
        The “smart grid” that some people fantasize about is not happening in America because the grid is dinosaur, smart or not! As a concept it cannot attract investment because the Westinghouse high voltage world is quickly giving way to Edison style; volt and a half reality, that already runs most of the devices we use.
        Your consistently expressed paranoia about oil has some validity, but this country is already energy independent and has no need for oil imports. Oil is still being imported because it is still making billionaires richer. We can stop that if we choose.
        At this writing I am convinced that the solar ranch project is a “place holder” for DW&P. By that I mean: If DW&P proposes to fill the grid to capacity by filing this pile of paper work, then no other project will be viable for the Public Utilities Commission to even consider. No transmission capacity means no other entity can even apply to build a power plant here until new lines are in place and the application process for new transmission lines takes 15 years. I think that DW&P is protecting, what it considers it’s turf, by doing this. I doubt that they even intend to bulid it.
        Solar, wind, and hydro-thermal power generation are our paths away from burning oil, but not in the form of mega power-plants. Soon we will no longer need kilo-volts of power because a five volt fuel cell is about to run everything we need. Print this out and put it on your wall Ken. If in ten years all of your paranoia isn’t all a moot point, I will apologize…. don’t be holding your breath or nuthin!

      • Philip Anaya December 7, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

        You have confounded once again. Speaking to the Owens Valley, actually speaking to the LADWP regarding the Owens Valley is the intent of the expression of ideas that come out of a viejo loco such as myself. How could anyone ever hope to speak for,understand or ever support even one imcomprehensible word coming from you .
        Golgotha is defined “as a place of great suffering”.
        What do we know about what it was to be interned? What do we know about what suffering occured to these people while they were in Manzanar and after when they were allowed to return home ,what happen to their homes, their lives ,their hopes and dreams.Your insensitivity to people demands an apology post haste , at the very least some introspection of what fuels your indifference and onslaught against this community of Americans. You sir, you are the one who comes off as being seriously absurb.

      • Ken Warner December 7, 2013 at 11:02 pm #

        After you all stop hyperventilating about how the possibility of seeing a solar energy plant somehow insults a whole culture, try reading my post again — slowly enough to understand what “…small step … ” means.

        BTW: The U.S. is not energy independent yet. Not without Canadian and Mexican oil and gas and may not be so for a long time. We still need MidEast oil, but we can slowly reduce the need for MidEast oil if people stop frothing at every proposed project that can help reach that goal.

        Manzanar was operational for 4 years and held 11,000 people. There’s more people in jail now for longer sentences for pot smoking. Will we have to enshrine our jails someday?

        Manzanar is a historic site and a national park. Being able to see a solar energy site is not going to change that. And the history of Manzanar appears to be more complicated than just the 3-4 years it was an internment camp.


        The U.S. is already the second largest producer of NatGas after Russia and we will be producing more oil than Saudi Arabia by 2020 — so I’ve heard. We just have to be sensible and not hysterical and emotional. And everybody has to play some small part in the process. Ancient wrongs cannot be allowed as impediments to a better future.

        There may be a bunch of very good reasons why the LADWP project should not be located there. Present and defend those reasons. I’ve not seen any except these overly emotional, irrational and unsupported claims of disrespecting an entire culture. Those are weak arguments and make you look foolish and weak to LADWP. You are hurting yourselfs.

        • Benett Kessler December 8, 2013 at 8:44 am #

          Ken, Chill. I for one am not frothing at the mouth but am interested in peoples’ views. Including yours, which would be more readable if it were less attacking.

        • Russ Monroe December 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm #

          Ken, I just gave you concrete reasons for not doing this project. You choose to ignore them, then that is your personal issue. You are the one refusing to address fundamentals like: it’s too bad of an investment to draw in even ignorant investors. If you choose to ignore the DW&P’s own words on the topic, well, what value is your opinion on the subject?
          Let’s try some second grade math Ken:
          My home has 30 light fixtures.
          If I put 100watt incandescent bulbs in each of them it would cost me 3000 watts of energy to run them all at once.
          I use LED bulbs. They average 4watts each. That’s 120watts to run all of them at once.
          In the past I have built computer systems in my home that required 8000watts to run. The unit I am writing this on takes 5watts to recharge and only has to do that for an hour every few days.
          Please, Ken, take Benett’s advice, chill a bit , do some math, do some research yourself, stop trying to force a future that is mired in your memory of the past.
          Sensible would be a better approach. From here it looks like you are the one consistently trying to use ancient wrongs to impede the future.

          • Ken Warner December 9, 2013 at 10:20 am #

            Ken, Chill. I for one am not frothing at the mouth but am interested in peoples’ views. Including yours, which would be more readable if it were less attacking.

        • Philip Anaya December 8, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

          Mr. Warner,
          You seem to be expressing some ideas that many can agree with. You are expressing the idea that “There are a bunch of very good reasons why the LADWP Project should not be located there.” Exactly correct in my opinion. This particular story from the Sierra Wave ,this letter from Mr Embrey , however is dealing with the input and discussion of the how this project effects the Manzanar Historic Site and the community of People , Japanese Americans, who hold the essence of what Manzanar means in their history and in the history of our Nation.
          We did not intern German Americans or Italian Americans in these years of WW2 conflict . We interned Japs. There is no explination or justification for this mistake. There has only been some redress in the way of compensation for the loss of property, homes, businesses but nothing much else other than the Manzanar Historic Site to address the pain, the loss, the disruption of the lives of these American People ,of these people of Japanese descent . I hate to bottom feed about Vietnam and gooks and war is hell, but this stupid joke sums it up
          Two best friends one a Jew , One a Chinese man (reminder, this is a joke) were sitting in their favorite bar on Dec 7 watching the news and the anniversery of Pearl Harbor. All at once the Jewish Guy hits his friend in the jaw knocking him to the floor . The China man gets up and says “what was that for?” and the Jewish Man says, “That’s for Pearl Harbor.” The Chinaman says “Pearl Harbor? That was the Japanese.” The Jewish man says, “Japanese, Vietnamese ,Chinese ,they are all the same.”
          So more than a moment or two passes and then the Chinaman hits his friend in the jaw and knocks him to the floor. The Jewish man climbs back into his seat and says , ” What was that for?” The Chinaman says “That’s for the Titanic.” “The Titanic?” says the Jewish Man. “Yes,” says the Chinaman. “Greenberg Steinberg, Iceberg , they are all the same”

          So KW don’t think for a moment that responses from others are not thought out and are not tied to ones history and the need for that response. Don’t think that anyone ever gets it right and there are powerful emotional responses to jokes and to real issues. When a response comes from a community rather than a singular individual maybe there might be some validity to the emotion and the argument that needs respect and an apology for own emotional irrational rants. Think that that through a bit and remember to feel free to call me out whenever I stray, as I do constantly from the honest viewshed I think that I dream to inhabit and perceive. This is what our community is all about . This is what humanity might be all about. We all get by with a little help from our friends.

          • Ken Warner December 9, 2013 at 10:27 am #

            At least try to quote me correctly: “There may be a bunch of very good reasons why the LADWP project should not be located there.”

            Not: ““There are a bunch of very good reasons why the LADWP Project should not be located there.”

            Why should I take your arguments seriously if you can’t even respond to another’s point without distorting it?

            And “Jap”? “Chinaman”? “Gook”? And you claim to be culturally

          • Desert Tortoise December 9, 2013 at 10:31 am #

            Both German and Italian nationals were interned during WWII, with the Germans being only second in number to the Japanese. By law any citizens of a nation we declare war on become an “enemy alien” subject to arrest, deportation or detention. This was the case of any Japanese, German or Italian born resident of the US who was not a US citizen. However, unlike the case of the Japanese, Italians with US citizenship were not interned. The Italians presented a unique case because at the outbreak of WWII Italian Americans represented the largest single ethnic group in the US, greater in number than the Irish or Germans, and they possesed considerable clout through trade unions and political organizations. All however were forced to surrender their cameras and any radio transmitters and they were forced to register with the police.

            Also, unlike Japan, Italy surrendered to the Allies in August of 1943 through an act of Parliament (and were invaded the following day by Germany with the help of fascist elements in the Italian Parliament who cued the Germans in the what was about to happen and elements of their army loyal to Mussolini). The Italian Navy fled to Malta, losing some capital ships to early German radio guided glide bombs as the Germans attacked them trying to prevent them from falling under Royal Navy control.

          • Pedro December 9, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

            DT, Germans may have been second, but not even a remotely close runner up. Look at the percentages of overall population imprisoned, percentage of natural born citizens, and impact on entire families and communities. Also compare Hawaii where fellow citizens and local government resisted “internment” for Japanese Americans and about one percent were imprisoned.

            Three wrongs don’t make a right, but being forced to surrender a camera is a different than surrendering infant orphans.

          • Pedro December 9, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

            Vincent Chin might not appreciate the joke, Philip. Get your point, but come on….



            PS. Thank You, Nelson Mandela.

  3. MJA December 7, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    You know, they built a hell of a lot of city around Pearl Harbor, and most would say it’s place in history will never be forgotten. December 7th, 2013 =

    • Mark December 8, 2013 at 8:48 am #

      MJA – excellent point


    • Philip Anaya December 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

      Pedro ,
      Thank you for the callout. Apologies to you and anyone offended by my harsh words and harsh joke . The non sense of racism does not need emblellishment nor should it ever need reminders. The history of what we have done to each other in this nation has been a sorted journey to where we are today. Even though we have made great strides there is tons of room for improvement as a Nation and myself as an individual.

  4. Joe December 8, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    I think this area was proposed because the area is already heavily damaged from water export to the point DWP said let’s put in acres of PV panels surrounding these wells and we can pump as much as we want without having to be held accountable for drawdown impacts in that immediate area.

  5. mongo the idiot December 8, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    What is the meaning of life?
    What is the meaning of meaning?
    Most all of us like money and electricity, so perhaps solar panels are meaningful in this way.
    We also like nature, perhaps the solar panels are not so meaningful in this regard because they impair something we cannot create.
    Can we have it all, money, energy, and the preservation of nature, or is one more meaningful than the others?
    We are the same monkey like creatures who played with plutonium and had melt downs.
    We are the same nation that dropped a nuke on Hiroshima to “save lives”, later erecting a shrine to internment in the OV.
    We will never agree or be at piece, history tells us this.
    Whatever happens, the end result will be OOOPS.

  6. Steve December 9, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    I have 9 grandchildren that I think about inheriting the mess we are creating today. So looking from there I say build all the green power generation we can. We should be showing them how great challenges get the best of what we can do.

    I also tell them about the past history of this wonderful valley both good and bad.

    DWP has a record of doing both good and bad for the valley. So when DWP want’s to do something. I am checking to see if it is good or bad for the valley. This is one of the good things that needs to be done for the future of all.

    To say it should not be done because it will be seen from 3 miles away at Manzanar is not a valid reason to stop.

  7. Bdawg December 9, 2013 at 10:51 am #

    While we’re at it, the farmers have a lot of nerve destroying the view shed from Whitney and Manzanar with their unbelievably insensitive round alfalfa fields!!
    After they’re gone we can start taking out all the rancher’s incredibly rude fences that are a sickening reminder of the atrocities that took place at Manzanar.

    Get over this ridiculous argument about Manazanar and get on with renewable energy as long as it REALLY is profitable and not mostly subsidized to look good.

  8. Mark December 9, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    Laborers at the solar farms in the Antelope Valley are making $42.00 an hour. projects are winding down and layoffs have started.

    • Wayne Deja December 9, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

      …..And,once again,if this solar project does go through,which I’m hoping it doesn’t,it would be the same as when Sarah Palin’s friend was pushing for the “Cougar Gold” project up in the Bodie Hills a couple years ago,and lying about things,and how it would “save” Bridgeport,and how the waste from the project would dump into Nevada,and not into Mono County,or around Bodie….saying how they would employ locals at high wages….when,in all actuallity,they would hire their own people, friends,sons,daughters,etc.to be making that $42.00 an hour…

      • Mark December 10, 2013 at 11:04 am #

        When when it comes to employment it has always been and will always be “Who you know, not what you know”.

        A friend from out of the area just landed a nice job with the county via the who you know method. I’m glad he got the job but also thought about all the locals that applied that would be pissed off if they knew how it all went down.

        I was pro Couger Gold, and always a supporter of mining our natural resources.

        Nepotism is everywhere if you look closely.

    • Russ Monroe December 9, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

      That’s nice Mark, but DW&P has already publicly stated that they will not hire a single new for the solar project here, not one.

      • Mark December 10, 2013 at 11:06 am #

        I didnt’ know that Russ, so no benifit other then some additional tax dollars for the county?

        I think I’d tell them to pack sand and build elsewhere


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