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Westside VA hospital boots three commercial tenants

August 30, 2011 |  8:14 am

Veterans Affairs medical center
The Veterans Affairs hospital on the Westside is evicting a bus company, a car rental firm and a commercial laundry from its site to try to counter criticism that it puts commercial interests ahead of veterans.

The three longtime tenants are among about two dozen private entities holding land-use agreements with the agency.

They were told they do not meet requirements contained in a recently enacted master plan for the 387-acre campus, the Associated Press reported.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car, which stores vehicles on campus, was told to move to a different part of the site by October to make space for a new mental health building and to leave the property entirely by May 2012, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles' Tumbleweed Charter Buses Inc., which keeps more than 170 vehicles on site, was told in May it would be able to use the facility for only one more year.

And Maryland-based food services and facilities management giant Sodexo Inc. was told late last year it would have to vacate a building it uses as a commercial laundry for schools and hospitals by the end of this year.

The leases are central to an American Civil Liberties Union complaint filed against the VA in June that accuses the agency of neglecting homeless veterans who need care after traumatic military experiences.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of disabled, homeless veterans and accuses the VA of a breach of fiduciary duty for leasing much of the property to businesses.

There were 7,000 homeless veterans in the Los Angeles area in 2010, about 10% of the country's total population of 71,609 homeless vets, according to the VA's most recent tally.

The ACLU has criticized the VA for not publicizing how much it is receiving for renting out space on the campus.

The VA said it is evaluating its leases in light of a recently released master plan for the campus, which requires the agency to look at whether the contracts directly benefit veterans. The plan was finalized in June.


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Photo: The Veterans Affairs medical center on the Westside. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times