Senator Feinstein Introduces Legislation to Permanently Ban Commercial Development of West Los Angeles VA Campus
May 18 2007
Washington, DC – In light of sustained community concerns, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation that would permanently ban the Department of Veterans Affairs from pursuing commercial development at its West Los Angeles Medical Center site.
The legislation would specifically prohibit the VA from entering into enhanced-use leases on the land, and from selling any portions of it for private use. In addition, it would require the VA to submit a master plan for the property within one year, and require congressional authorization to fund provisions of the master plan.
Earlier this year, Senator Feinstein introduced legislation requiring the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a master plan for the site. The legislation also established restrictions on development. The legislation introduced this week will go a step further and permanently ban development.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs has allowed inappropriate uses of this site over the years, and many in the community believe there is more on the way,” Senator Feinstein said. “For this reason, I believe that stronger legislation is needed.”
“Allowing this land to be developed would be a disservice to our veterans and a disaster for the surrounding community, already beset by high density and heavy congestion. This legislation will prevent development of this site from happening.”
“This legislation is critical to ensuring that this land – in the midst of some of the most heavily developed urban landscape in the nation – is hands-off to private development.”
The West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus sits on 388 acres on both sides of Wilshire Boulevard, west of Interstate 405. This land was given to the federal government in 1888 for the exclusive use of veterans.
Despite this restriction, the Department of Veterans Affairs has allowed various private uses of the land over the years, and currently there is no guarantee that similar uses will not be permitted in the future.
Private uses of the site include leases for Fox Entertainment Group and Enterprise Rental Car.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs has failed to guarantee that it will not pursue development of the site in the future, including enhanced-use leases which could ultimately lead to parcels being sold to private developers.”
“It is essential that the Department of Veterans Affairs maintains this property for the exclusive use of America’s veterans. The VA has failed to do so in the past, and it has given no firm assurances that this will not occur in the future.”
“This is unacceptable, and this is why I introduced this legislation.”
Senator Feinstein’s legislation, introduced Thursday, is a companion to legislation introduced in the House by Representative Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles).
Summary of Senator Feinstein’s Legislation
The West Los Angeles Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center Preservation Act of 2007 would:
- Prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from issuing enhanced-use lease agreements on the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs property;
- Expand the scope of the Cranston Act to cover the full 388-acre West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs property. Currently, the Cranston Act applies to only 109 acres;
- Prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from exchanging, trading, auctioning or transferring any of the West Los Angeles land;
- Require that a master plan related to the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs property be completed no later than one year after this legislation is enacted;
- Prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from receiving funding to enact the provisions of a master plan for the West Los Angeles campus without first receiving Congressional authorization; and
- Establish a public advisory committee to provide input on the master plan. The committee would consist of federal elected representatives, local elected officials, local veterans, and community members.