Last Update: Thursday, December 12, 2013
|UCLA to Appeal Judge's Ruling on VA Westside Property|
|Written by City News Service and the San Fernando Valley Sun / El Sol|
|Thursday, 24 October 2013 04:54|
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – UCLA officials will appeal a federal judge's ruling that effectively locks the university out of Jackie Robinson Stadium – which is on Veterans Administration land in West Los Angeles – where Bruin baseball has been played for decades.
If appeals fail, the university may have to vacate the stadium after the 2014 season.
U.S. District Judge S. James Otero ruled in August that by not using the land to provide health care for vets, the VA is in violation of federal law. Otero issued a written ruling Monday, Oct. 21, rejecting efforts to persuade him to overturn his decision.
The land is currently leased to the stadium, a hotel laundry, a film studio storage lot and other businesses.
A class-action lawsuit on behalf of homeless vets in need of medical care – filed in June 2011 – challenges the alleged misuse of the 387-acre VA campus, which was deeded to the United States in 1888 for the specific purpose of providing a home for disabled veterans.
The land was used for its intended purpose for nearly 80 years, until the VA leased out portions to 11 businesses and organizations, including UCLA and the private Brentwood School, for purposes unrelated to providing medical care or treatment for homeless and disabled veterans, the plaintiffs said.
In his ruling, Otero said the VA had abused its discretion by leasing land for purposes "totally divorced from the provision of healthcare."
"The decision denying intervention means that the VA campus must be the home of the brave, not of the Bruins, as UCLA had urged," said Mark Rosenbaum, chief counsel of the ALCU of Southern California.
"UCLA should be more concerned about homeless vets than arguing that its college baseball team will become homeless as it stated in its legal papers," he said. "Hopefully, too, it will incentivize UCLA and Brentwood School to lobby the VA to make the phrase 'homeless veterans' an American oxymoron."
Robert Rosebrock, director of the old Los Angeles-based Veterans Guard organization that has been battling with the VA here to improve conditions for homeless veterans, was pleased by the decision "It is interesting how he laid out that homeless veterans are being disadvantaged," Rosebrock said. "(The judge) was really admonishing UCLA and the Brentwood School for almost selfishly looking out for their interests while disabled homeless veterans continued to be neglected and denied proper housing and care.
"It's time for all of those entities that have those illegal contracts to withdraw completely so we can move forward and serve our veterans the way they need."
The judge delayed the ruling's impact for six months in order to give the VA an opportunity to appeal.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 24 October 2013 04:56|