U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has inserted language in pending legislation designed to prevent commercial development of the West L.A. veterans’ property that has become the subject of increasing speculation and concern in recent months.
Federal government plans (not yet finalized) to demolish the Federal Building at 11000 Wilshire Blvd. (between Sepulveda Blvd. and Veteran Ave.) for the construction of nearly one million square feet of new FBI offices, and a proposal to exchange ten acres of armory land at Wilshire and Federal Ave. with a private developer, have focused attention on the much larger tract of VA property that straddles Wilshire between those two locations. Fearing further development of a rare island of “open” land in a sea of dense congestion, L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and others have called on Washington for a comprehensive plan for the entire package of Federal property.
Feinstein, ranking member of the Military Construction and Veteran Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, attached an amendment to the FY 2007 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill that has now been approved by the full committee directing the VA to provide the Senate and House Appropriations Committees a report on the Master Plan for the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) and its land.
The bill also precludes the VA from moving forward on any recommendation included in the master plan that is not a direct veterans service without approval from the Committees on Appropriations. This includes not allowing enhanced use lease agreements for VA property or the selling of VA land without their approval.
“For nearly 120 years, individuals and government representatives have consistently reaffirmed their commitment to safeguard this property and ensure its use for veterans,” Senator Feinstein said.
The full Senate is expected to consider the bill in the coming weeks.
“This 387-acre property has a unique national status that is the result of significant protections that were put in place to ensure the land is used to directly benefit veterans,” Feinstein said. “I believe it is crucial that the VA develop a master plan for the site and that no portion of the plan that does not relate exclusively to direct veterans services be permitted without Congressional approval.”
“I applaud Senator Feinstein for taking this step to protect the West L.A. VA. We can never fully repay our veterans for their service and sacrifice, but we can assure them that this land will continue to be theirs,” said Representative Henry Waxman (D-LA), who represents the area.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who also represents the area, said, “I want to thank Senator Feinstein for ensuring that the long promised master plan for the West Los Angeles VA will be done prior to any further long-term development of the property. The Senator recognizes that these are hallowed lands, and our community owes her a debt of gratitude.”
“The local community has demonstrated a unified commitment to support our veterans,” said Feinstein. “I have received over 600 letters, in addition to phone calls and emails, clearly stating that the VA property must be retained for VA uses. Furthermore, businesses and community organizations, including the Brentwood Community Council, Pacific Palisades Community Council, Bel Air/Beverly Crest Neighborhood Council, the Brentwood Community Federation and the West L.A. Chamber of Commerce have all contacted my office to express their opposition to any commercial development plan. This is a critical issue to the community and it is imperative that their voices are heard.”