Navy to mask Coronado's
SWASTIKA?: The buildings, constructed
in the 1960s, are on the Coronado amphibious
and serve as a barracks for Seabees. From the
ground, or even adjoining buildings,
configuration cannot be seen. Nor are there any
civilian or military landing patterns
such a view. But Google Earth shows the shape
Ground level isn't a
problem but aerial views of the Coronado site spark
By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
September 26, 2007
(Must register to LA Times to view original article--it's
CORONADO, Calif., -- The U.S. Navy has
decided to spend as much as $600,000 for landscaping
and architectural modifications to obscure the fact
that one its building complexes looks like a
swastika from the air.
The four L-shaped buildings, constructed in the late
1960s, are part of the amphibious base at Coronado
and serve as barracks for Seabees.
From the ground and from inside nearby buildings,
the controversial shape cannot be seen. Nor are
there any civilian or military landing patterns that
provide such a view to airline passengers.
But once people began looking at satellite images
from Google Earth, they started commenting about on
blogs and websites about how much the buildings
resembled the symbol used by the Nazis.
When contacted by a Missouri-based radio talk-show
host last year, Navy officials gave no indication
they would make changes.
But early this year, the issue was quietly taken up
by Morris Casuto, the Anti-Defamation League's
regional director in San Diego, and U.S. Rep. Susan
Davis (D-San Diego).
As a result, in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1,
the Navy has budgeted up to $600,000 for changes in
walkways, "camouflage" landscaping and rooftop
The goal is to mask the shape. "We don't want to be
associated with something as symbolic and hateful as
a swastika," said Scott Sutherland, deputy public
affairs officer for Navy Region Southwest, the
command that is responsible for maintaining
buildings on local bases.
The collection of L-shaped buildings is at the
corner of Tulagi and Bougainville roads, named after
World War II battles.
Navy officials say the shape of the buildings,
designed by local architect John Mock, was not noted
until after the groundbreaking in 1967 -- and since
it was not visible from the ground, a decision was
made not to make any changes.
It is unclear who first noticed the shape on Google
Earth. But one of the first and loudest advocates
demanding a change was Dave vonKleist, host of a
Missouri-based radio-talk show, The Power Hour, and
a website, www.thepowerhour.com.
In spring 2006, he began writing military officials,
including then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
calling for action.
That August, he received a response from officials
in Coronado, who made no promise to take action and
said, "The Navy intends to continue the use of the
buildings as long as they remain adequate for the
needs of the service."
In December, the now-defunct San Diego Jewish Times
wrote about the buildings and the controversy.
Soon Casuto and Davis got involved.
Casuto began an on-and-off dialogue with the chief
of staff to Rear Adm. Len Hering, commander of
Region Southwest. He said that several members of
the Jewish community had complained to him.
"I don't ascribe any intentionally evil motives to
this," Casuto said, referring to the design. "It
just happened. The Navy has been very good about
recognizing the problem. The issue is over."
Davis, who is Jewish, is also pleased with the
During a discussion with military officials on other
issues, Davis had mentioned the Coronado buildings
and suggested that rooftop photovoltaic arrays might
help change the overhead look. The base gets 3% of
its power from solar energy and has been looking to
increase that percentage.
Reached in Versailles, Mo., vonKleist, the talk-show
host, said he was ecstatic.
"I'm concerned about symbolism," he said. "This is
not the type of message America needs to be sending
to the world."