The U.S. Navy will spend as much as $600,000 to modify the appearance of a barracks complex that resembles a swastika from the air, officials said.
The Navy approved the spending for changes to the four L-shaped buildings' walkways, landscaping and rooftop solar panels after satellite images from Google Earth revealed the swastika-like shape, officials said.
“We don't want to be associated with something as symbolic and hateful as a swastika,” Scott Sutherland, deputy public affairs officer for Navy Region Southwest, told the Los Angeles Times.
Navy officials said the buildings' shape was not noted until after the groundbreaking in 1967. Since it was not visible from the ground, officials decided not to make any changes.
But aerial photos made available on Google Earth in recent years revealed the buildings' shape to a wide audience of computer users.
Online commentators remarked widely about the buildings' resemblance to the symbol used by the Nazis, the AP reports.
The Navy has said the buildings, which serves barracks for the Seabees were not intended to resemble the Nazi symbol. But that has done nothing to silence theories circling the Internet in the past two years.
One suggests they were built by German prisoners of war who slipped the layout past the Navy. Another hypothesis suggests the shape was intended to help the buildings survive bombing formations used by the Japanese navy.
Casuto said talks with the Navy were amicable and that no lawsuits were ever threatened, Reuters reports.
"We didn't enter this minor controversy presuming there was any evil intent on the part of anyone. We understood this was not the number one priority of a nation at war. The Navy decided on their own it was the right thing to do," Casuto said.
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, latimes.com reports.
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