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Plaza in Under-Construction City Parking Garage Named After Little Tokyo Pastor

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, May 03, 2010, at 03:18PM
New Parking Garage Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Excavation and shoring work appears complete at the Aiso Street Parking Facility, which will have a two-story underground garage.

Construction is far from completed on the City's new Aiso Street Parking Facility, but ground floor of the two-level underground garage got a name on Friday. City Council passed a motion to name the plaza after Reverend Howard Noboru Toriumi, Senior Pastor at Union Church of Los Angeles from 1961 to 1979.

The garage is located at the corner of 1st and Judge John Aiso street.

From the motion (CF 10-0349):

Reverend Toriumi was born on June 2, 1916 in Sacramento, California. He attended the University of California at Berkeley and graduated in 1939, followed by studies at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Due to pending evacuation following the onset of World War II, Reverend Toriumi was ordained on April 18, 1942 with the understanding that he would later complete his education. Reverend Toriumi and his wife, Dorothy Setsuko Kawamorita, whom he married a few days earlier on AprilS. 1942, were evacuated to Tanforan Assembly Center and then to Lopez Relocation Center in Utah. When evacuees were permitted to leave Topaz, Reverend Toriurni entered Princeton Theological Seminary and graduated in 1944. In 1961, he was called to serve as Senior Pastor to the Union Church of Los Angeles, based in Little Tokyo.

At the onset of redevelopment in Los Angeles, downtown in the early 1960s, Reverend Toriumi realized that the future of not only the Union Church, but the entire Little Tokyo community would he affected by the City's plan to expand the civic center into the boundaries of Little Tokyo. These plans originated from federal legislation created in 1949 and 19S4 that targeted "blighted" areas for urban renewal. These urban renewal programs took a heavy toll on other Japanese American communities, razing large parts of the Japantowns in Sacramento and San Francisco. In Little Tokyo, City planners at one time proposed building a freeway through the heart of the district.

In response, Reverend Toriumi organized a noon meeting on May 20, 1963 at the Daruma Cafe located on San Pedro Street to establish a sounding board for Little Tokyo community members. This meeting gave rise to the Little Tokyo Redevelopment Association (LTRA), an entity that, in turn, developed into the influential Little Tokyo Community Development Advisory Committee (LTCDAC), with Reverend Toriumi at the forefront. In 2006, this advisory eomniittee became the Little Tokyo Community Advisory Council (LTCAC).

The garage replaces the Police department's motorpool, which is now located on Main street between 2nd and 3rd.

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