Land abuse in LA
In 1888, a 387-acre parcel of land in Los Angeles was deeded to the government for the purpose of caring for disabled veterans, specifically for building the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. After a 2011 lawsuit to determine whether the land was being used as it was intended, the courts con-
cluded that no, it wasn’t.
The Department of Veterans Affairs had leased out much of the land in a profit-sharing arrangement or for small rent payments. The 2016 WLA Leasing Act required that all lease agreements must benefit veterans in areas such as health, education, vocational training and family. Enter the Office of the Inspector General.
The OIG discovered that of the 40 land use agreements, 11 did not comply and 14 were either expired or did not exist. Here are a few examples:
• The Red Cross was using a building while promising to focus on veteran services, but didn’t state how it would do that.
• A parrot care facility promised to provide therapeutic activities to veterans, but the facility was always padlocked. It had no signed agreement.
• Parking lots were open
to the public, not held only
• A school was using 21 acres
as an athletic field; it had nothing to do with veterans.
• An oil company had been
drilling on the site for 10 years, offering no benefit to veterans.
• The city of Los Angeles was
using 12 acres as softball fields and a dog park. It promised to hire veterans, spending up to $200,000 annually, but there’s
no sign that it did. •
A youth soccer league had
been renting property since 2003, with no evidence of any benefit to veterans and no signed agreement.
To view the whole 120-page report, go to www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-18-00474-300.pdf.