Long-awaited draft master plan for West Los Angeles VA released
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Wednesday released its long-awaited master plan for the West Los Angeles VA campus, calling for the construction of an inpatient tower, a nursing home and a research facility.
The culmination of years of discussion and controversy, the plan also includes possible construction of a graveyard columbarium on the north side of the campus and a veterans benefits administration facility on the south side. The document also reaffirms the VA’s contract with the Veterans Park Conservancy, a nonprofit group, for building a Veterans Memorial Park at Wilshire and San Vicente boulevards.
In addition, the plan calls for an expansion of the campus’ program for the homeless through the renovation of three older buildings.
Some veterans and area homeowner groups have criticized plans for a park, saying the VA devotes too much of the 387-acre property to outside companies and organizations through leases. The proposal lists 21 existing “enhanced sharing agreements” with, among others, the American Red Cross, the city of Los Angeles, the private Brentwood School and Sodexho Marriott Laundry Services. Although some of the agreements relate directly to the care of veterans, including homeless veterans, many do not. The VA uses revenue from those agreements to operate its facilities.
Robert Rosebrock, a veteran and activist, accused the VA of mismanaging the property at the expense of veterans. He said Los Angeles has become the “homeless veteran capital of the nation because veterans have been exiled from their very own home.”
He has urged neighboring residents to support his plan to replace many obsolete buildings with a “grand veterans home” with new resident towers, dining halls, healthcare and rehabilitation facilities, a veterans college and other amenities.
“What some people fail to understand and accept is that there’s been a master plan in effect for nearly 123 years,” he wrote in a guest editorial for Westside Today, a local publication. “It’s called the deed of 1888, and it specifically declares that the benevolent land gift from Sen. John P. Jones and Arcadia Bandini de Baker to the U.S. government is to be permanently maintained as a National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.”
He added: “One of the least expensive and most rewarding investments will be to build temporary shelter and start to immediately bring homeless veterans onto the grounds and help them get back into society as productive citizens.”
Ralph Tillman, chief of external affairs for the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, said the VA was excited to offer the proposal for public comment and vowed that the finalization of the document would be “the most transparent public process that the federal government offers.”
The draft master plan is available here. Comments must be received on or before Feb. 19. For more information, click here.