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Land Wars: Work Begins to Turn the West LA VA Campus Into a Community

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The 387-acre Department of Veterans Affairs campus in Brentwood is going to have to start housing veterans, says a new federal ruling. In 2011, a veterans group represented by the ACLU sued the VA, charging that it was misusing land that had originally been deeded (in the late 1800s) for housing and helping vets. The lawsuit cited practices dating back about four decades, says KPCC, but the filing was spurred by the VA practice of leasing out land for all kinds of random uses, including a hotel's laundry service, UCLA (for a baseball field), and a car rental agency, among others (much of the huge campus was still used for veteran care, just not all of it). Now, the VA's going to have to create a master plan that will single out sites for housing for disabled vets on the property, and then get to work building them.

The VA came into the nearly 400-acre property near the end of the Nineteenth Century, when two wealthy donors deeded the land to the organization so that it could be used to provide housing for veterans. The VA did function as "a thriving veteran community" and a place where concentrated services, including housing, were available until around the 1960s, when it stopped accepting new residents.

Now, it will have to open itself up again to offering support and housing to disabled vets, hopefully including homeless veterans and those who have PTSD or other impairments as a result of their time in the military. Where it'll get the money to actually build that housing is still not at all clear, but the VA says it'll have its master plan—which will include both new buildings and remodels—by October and form a nonprofit to guide it into reality. Lawyer Bobby Shriver, who's helping lead the plans, says he'd like the campus to become a full community: "There's no track. There's no basketball courts. There's no Starbucks. There's no dry cleaner. There's no community. There's no restaurant," he laments.
· VA settles lawsuit, agrees to transform West LA campus to help disabled veterans [SCPR]
· Veterans Sue to Take West LA VA Back From Fancy Brentwooders [Curbed LA]