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Congress OKs Ban on Sale of VA Land

May 05, 1988|SHELDON ITO | Times Staff Writer

A bill that would prevent the federal government from selling 109 acres of Veterans Administration property in West Los Angeles passed both houses of Congress last week and awaits President Reagan's signature, said Rep. Anthony C. Beilenson (D-Los Angeles).

The bill, part of the Veterans Benefits and Services Act of 1988, would prevent the 109 acres at the VA facility in West Los Angeles and 46 acres at the facility in Sepulveda from being sold as excess land, said Beilenson, the bill's co-sponsor.

The Reagan Administration proposed selling the land in 1986 to help reduce the national deficit. Local residents and politicians feared that new construction on the prime real estate would add to noise and traffic problems in the area as well as eliminate open space.

"From the community point of view, it's terribly important in urban areas to preserve open space," Beilenson said. "We have very little of it in West Los Angeles. The last thing we need is to sell off this land and build more high-rise office buildings."

Beilenson added that the VA will probably need the land in the future and will be unable to buy it back if it is sold.

News of the bill's passage was greeted with approval from residents and local officials who fought the proposed sale.

"We're very pleased," said Claire Rogger, deputy to Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude. "That's very good news as far as we're concerned."

Sue Young, president of the Brentwood Homeowners Assn., said while she is pleased with the bill, she does not think the issue is resolved.

"It will not solve the problem, because the land can still be used by or leased to other city, state or federal agencies," she said. "And we need to preserve it for veterans forever."

Young's group is pushing for a Veterans Memorial Park to keep the land open and for the use of veterans.

Veterans Administration officials recommended against sale of the land, but they do not have the power to determine policy, VA spokesman Larry Caird said.

"We obey the law regardless of what we feel about it," Caird said. "If Congress feels it's important enough to have Little League fields in the Valley, then we'll have them. If Congress feels we should control density in West Los Angeles, then we'll do that."

Beilenson, who co-sponsored the bill to block the sale along with Rep. G. V. (Sonny) Montgomery (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and two others, said he expects President Reagan to sign the bill within the next 10 days.

Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) sponsored the bill in the Senate.

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