The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power says that despite the objections is it going ahead with plans to put 1 million photovoltaic panels on 1,200 acres it owns in the Owens Valley north of the city.
The $680-million, 200-megawatt plant would sit within 3-1/2 miles of the historic Manzanar site that was a Japanese American internment camp during World War II, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.
Japanese American organizations and National Park Service officials have expressed concerns the solar plant would destroy the isolated character of the site, important to understanding what internees encountered as they were kept there seven decades ago.
Critics of the plant admitted they have little legal or regulatory recourse to try and halt the construction of the solar facility.
"There is no agency that regulates vistas and views," said Bruce Embrey, co-chair of the Manzanar Committee, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the site. "We have moral authority, an appeal to the city's social conscience. We are urging the DWP to consider alternative sites for its solar farm, perhaps on structures in downtown Los Angeles."
Congress established the 814-acre Manzanar site in 1992 to serve as a reminder of a failure of American civil rights.
In February 1942, two months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and amid fears along the U.S. west coast of sabotage and espionage, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order allowing military commanders to relocate and intern "any and all persons" from certain areas.
Thousands of U.S. citizens of Japanese descent were summarily removed to the remote Manzanar site, a harsh landscape hemmed in on the west by the Sierra Nevada Mountains and on the east by the Inyo Mountains.
"For the sake of our visitors' experiences and the memories of our former internees, we must advocate for the area to remain undeveloped," Manzanar Superintendant Les Inafuku told the Times.