Thursday, September 6, 2007

Veterans Administration Land

The LA Times reported on community resistance to the idea of privatizing parts of the land of the VA Campus in Westwood. The objections are legion: other uses of the land might impede service to veterans, circumvent public scrutiny, increase traffic, promote secret deals, etc.
Here's the official government VA site with all the backup material, press releases, and reports.

Related to all this was a budget bill, sponsored by Senator Feinstein, prohibiting commercial development at the VA Campus. An attempt to remove that prohibition was shot down on September 5. (news story here )

There's plenty of non-objectionable use of the site. A group called the Veterans Park Conservancy just signed an agreement with the VA to develop a 16 acre memorial park on the land, rent-free. And in July, Governor Schwartzenegger spoke at the groundbreaking for a 400-bed veterans' home to be completed by 2010.

The VA Campus was started in 1887, when the men who founded Santa Monica--Senator John P. Jones and Colonel Robert S. Baker--donated 300 acres and $50,000 to build a National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The original building was designed by Stanford White--an architect later murdered in one of the most scandalous crimes of the early 20th century (PBS has a good website about that.) More about the history of the VA Campus is here.

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