The Veterans Administration, under its new leadership, is working to transform the West Los Angeles VA (WLA VA) campus. UCLA, which has been providing medical services to veterans at the campus for almost 70 years, is committed to providing new services and programs for veterans and their families in mental and physical health, law, and adaptive recreation, and other ways that make the WLA VA a welcoming home to our nation’s veterans. In addition to paying fair market rent for use of Jackie Robinson Stadium, named for its famed UCLA alumnus and veteran, UCLA is working on exciting and innovative veteran-centric recreation services at and around that site. This is the right thing to do for veterans and for the community.
The Los Angeles Homeless Veterans Leasing Act of 2015 has been introduced by Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, and Representative Lieu to assist the VA in implementing a proposed master plan to address the pressing need for long-term supportive housing and additional services for veterans. The legislation will also prohibit the VA from selling property for private development or leasing to parties that do not principally provide benefits for veterans.
The bill is crucial to UCLA’s ability to expand its decades-long relationship with VA. A provision in the legislation, Section (b)(3), allows UCLA to continue to lease Jackie Robinson Stadium subject to the Secretary of VA’s approval on an agreement regarding services to be provided by the University on the VA campus.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why does UCLA need a special provision, Section (b)(3), in the legislation?
A: UCLA’s presence on the VA WLA campus already provides substantial benefits to veterans through its 70-year academic affiliation with VA. UCLA is an essential partner of VA in the delivery of healthcare to veterans, treating thousands of veterans annually on the VA campus and at UCLA.
This provision will draw on UCLA’s multidisciplinary expertise to provide substantial additional benefits for veterans on the campus. It establishes a framework whereby, under an agreement that requires the approval of the VA Secretary, UCLA will provide numerous new services benefiting veterans on the VA campus. The provision allows UCLA to continue to maintain and use Jackie Robinson Stadium only once a satisfactory agreement is reached regarding services provided by the university on the VA campus that principally benefit veterans and their families. It does not maintain the status quo.
The provision does not set a harmful precedent, because it applies only to UCLA, a public institution with a mission that overlaps with the VA: teaching, education, medical care and serving the public interest. UCLA is not a private or commercial operation. The provision does not leave room for private companies or non-veteran-centric interests to operate on the VA campus.
Q: Isn’t this a carve-out for UCLA? Why doesn’t UCLA fit into the provision that authorizes 50-year leases for nonprofits that will provide services that principally benefit veterans?
A: While UCLA could fit under the 50-year lease provision, it would make the legislation broader not narrower and could allow other entities to try to qualify as potential tenants. To keep a narrow interpretation, UCLA needs a specific provision just for it based on its 70 year relationship with VA and grounded in its academic affiliation and interwoven medical programs.
Including the (b) (3) provision keeps the 50-year lease provision narrow. Furthermore, under Section (b)(3), UCLA can only qualify for a 10-year lease, increasing oversight and accountability to the VA and the veteran community.