West Los Angeles VA Medical Center; Draft Master Plan, 5520-5527 [2016-01940]

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 21 (Tuesday, February 2, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 5520-5527]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-01940]


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DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS


West Los Angeles VA Medical Center; Draft Master Plan

AGENCY: Department of Veterans Affairs.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: This Federal Register Notice announces publication of the 
Draft Master Plan for the West Los Angeles (WLA) Department of Veterans 
Affairs (VA) campus (hereinafter referred to as the ``Draft Master 
Plan''). This notice also responds to public comments received in 
response to the Preliminary Draft Master Plan that VA published on 
October 22, 2015.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Introduction

    On October 22, 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 
published a notice in the Federal Register (80 FR 64061), seeking 
public comments for 45 days ending on Monday December 7, 2015, on the 
Preliminary Draft Final Master Plan for the Greater Los Angeles (GLA) 
VA Medical Center. As indicated in the Federal Register announcement, 
the campus consists of approximately 388 acres in the heart of Los 
Angeles. It has approximately 104 buildings, 39 of which are historic, 
12 which are in need of seismic improvements, and a number of which are 
currently vacant or closed.
    A key purpose for VA to solicit the public comments was to inform 
the Department's ongoing process to revitalize the campus and make it 
more Veteran focused (particularly for homeless, severely disabled, 
aging, and female Veterans); help end Veterans homelessness in greater 
Los Angeles, in coordination with key stakeholders (including former 
plaintiffs in the Valentini v. McDonald lawsuit, pertinent federal, 
state, and local authorities, legislators, Veteran Service 
Organizations, Veterans, local community partners, outside experts, and 
philanthropic entities); receive input to determine ways to make the 
campus more of a welcoming and thriving environment for Veterans and 
their families, whether living on or off campus, as they engage with 
one another on a peer-to-peer level, and receive the healthcare, 
benefits, and other services that they earned for serving our country; 
improve the processes and procedures regarding the review, execution, 
and administration of third-party land use agreements on campus, to 
ensure that those agreements that are not Veteran focused and not 
central to VA's mission and operations are as appropriate, modified, or 
terminated in support of VA's ongoing campus revitalization efforts.
    We are pleased to advise that as a result of this public process, 
VA received a record number of comments: 1,002. They contained 
invaluable feedback on a range of issues pertinent to the campus, 
notably regarding: the enhancement of arts, entertainment, and 
recreation facilities and opportunities; ways to improve campus 
circulation, parking, security, and transportation; ideas for improving 
campus integration with the surrounding community; suggestions for 
increased and expanded clinical care including therapeutic and holistic 
approaches; housing and campus restoration; ways to improve and address 
third-party when you see agreements on campus; ways to improve benefits 
and memorial services on campus, as well as other amenities such as 
childcare services, legal counseling services, financial management 
services, and parking; operational issues including improvements to the 
organizational and leadership structures for the campus, to maximize 
the potential and desire to better connect Veterans to the campus and 
give them more opportunities to provide true insight and feedback; 
emphasis on improving transparency and accountability regarding the 
spectrum of healthcare, benefits, memorial service, and third-party 
activities throughout the campus; options to improve access, 
reintegration, employment, counseling, family well-being, and other 
services for Veterans on the campus and within the surrounding 
community.
    VA has received numerous letters of support for legislation that 
Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Ted Lieu have introduced in 
Congress to support VA's plan to revitalize the campus. The bill is 
known as S. 2013 and HR 3484, and is title the ``Los Angeles Homeless 
Veterans Act of 2015.'' The legislation would enable VA

[[Page 5521]]

to provide much needed supportive housing and services on the campus 
for Veterans and their families. It would expressly prohibit VA from 
permanently transferring, selling, or disposing of any of the land on 
the campus, and would require leases to comply with applicable laws and 
regulations in conjunction to pertinent congressional notification, 
reporting requirements and Inspector General Reviews. VA is grateful to 
Senator Feinstein and Congressmen Lieu for their leadership and support 
during this exciting journey, and strongly supports this legislation as 
it will serve as a key driver in VA's ability to successfully implement 
the Draft Master Plan for Veterans in the Greater Los Angeles area.
    As we proceed towards adoption of the Draft Master Plan and 
commence its implementation, we envision the GLA campus serving as an 
exemplary model for other VA facilities nationwide. We also look 
forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure that this campus 
transformation coincides with VA's I care values of integrity, 
commitment, advocacy, respect, and excellence, relative to VA's 
overriding objective of putting Veterans in control of how, when, and 
where they want to receive their healthcare and services. With your 
continued support we are confident that VA will be able to fulfill 
President Abraham Lincoln's promise: ``to care for him who she'll have 
born the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan,'' by serving and 
honoring the men and women who are America's Veterans.
    To most efficiently review and respond to the 1,002 comments in the 
Federal Register, VA organized the responses into nine categories. 
Comments often addressed a range of topics, resulting in a single 
comment classified under multiple categories. While there were 1,002 
total comments submitted to the Federal Register, there were 1,732 
total comment categorizations to account for the comments that 
addressed multiple topics. Approximately 60% of the 1,002 total 
comments fell within the scope of a master plan, while the remaining 
40% addressed topics that are outside the scope of a master plan. VA 
will address all comments, both within and outside the scope of a 
master plan, in this document. The table below shows the number of 
comments received for each subcategory.

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                                                         Total comment
                 Comment subcategory                   categorizations *
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Arts, Recreation & Entertainment.....................                 93
Campus Circulation...................................                 29
Clinical.............................................                145
Connectivity.........................................                155
Housing/Campus Restoration...........................                137
Land Use Agreements..................................                397
Parking..............................................                134
Transparency & Accountability........................                146
Veteran Access.......................................                341
General Support......................................                124
General Discontent...................................                 31
Total Comment Categorizations *......................              1,732
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* A single comment can be classified in as many as four subcategories,
  allowing for more total comment categorizations than total comments.

    In addition to the nine categories addressed in this document there 
were 124 categorizations of non-specific comments expressing general 
support for the Draft Master Plan and revitalization of the GLA campus, 
and 31 categorizations of comments expressing general discontent with 
VA.

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

    Definition of Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation subcategory: Any 
comments requesting the development of new or altering the existing 
artistic, entertainment, or recreational facilities on the VA GLA 
campus.

Response

    The public submitted comments on a breadth of topics under the 
umbrella of Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation. These comments most 
prominently covered the type and availability of recreational 
activities on the Greater Los Angeles campus. Recreation-related 
comments generally fell under a couple different categories. The first 
category was comments seeking a centrally located recreation center and 
other athletic, recreational, rehabilitative, and therapeutic 
facilities established on campus. These comments will be taken into 
consideration in the development of the Zone 5 outer ring of the 
campus, and in each development which has been set aside for 
development into recreational facilities. The Master Plan focuses on 
developing supportive housing in conjunction with a healthy assortment 
of recreational facilities, to serve the future resident population on 
campus.
    The second category was comments seeking the development of 
meditative gardens and walking paths for Veterans, their families, and 
their visitors. VA received several comments requesting arts and 
entertainment options available on campus, as well. Comments focusing 
on the arts either requested a centrally located arts facility or an 
artistic means of honoring Veterans on campus. Commenters requested 
that the former allow space to make and refine art, including but not 
limited to screening rooms, audition rooms, makeup studios, a graphic 
design lab, studio space, and hobby shops. As with the requested 
recreational facilities described above, an arts facility could be 
developed in Zone 4 of the campus. Commenters focusing on the latter 
requested either that artist installations honoring Veterans be placed 
throughout the campus or a public memorial be placed on campus to allow 
Veterans to reflect, while also educating the public on the Veterans' 
sacrifices. The feasibility of artist installations throughout the 
campus will be explored and expanded, but the Grand Lawn in the 
southwest corner of the north campus is intended to be a quiet memorial 
space where Veterans and the general public can come to reflect and 
learn. The last major topic focused directly on the entertainment 
options to be available on campus. These comments were dedicated mainly 
to development of three venues: An outdoor concert space, a movie 
theatre, and an auditorium. The Greater Los Angeles VA can provide 
these spaces, by leveraging existing and future facilities. These 
issues are further addressed in the Chapter II, Section B section of 
the Master Plan.

Campus Circulation

    Definition of Campus Circulation subcategory: Any comments 
discussing transportation within and around the campus.

Response

    Campus Circulation concerns the movement of people and vehicles 
around, to, and from the GLA campus. Many comments noted deficiencies 
in the internal circulation of the campus, the lack of signage, and 
problems of way-finding throughout the campus. Commentators believe 
that the campus can be improved in its spatial organization to create a 
more easily legible plan. Overall, the majority of comments concerning 
internal circulation on campus asked for a variety of transportation 
modes and supporting infrastructure including pedestrian and bicycle 
pathways or routes; an improved, reliable shuttle to connect the 
various campus centers with convenient stop locations; and sufficient 
parking distributed throughout the campus.
    There were also many comments voicing concern for circulation 
beyond the GLA campus. Commentators noted that in the attempt to make 
the campus

[[Page 5522]]

a ``hub'' for regional services, it is important to make it accessible 
to all Veterans in the region. Some comments pointed out the difficulty 
of getting to and from services and those at the VA campus, 
particularly pointing out the desirability of a pedestrian and bicycle 
access route on Constitution Avenue between the UCLA Medical School and 
the VA Hospital. Comments expressed concern for the already grueling 
traffic conditions in the Westwood/Brentwood/Sawtelle neighborhoods 
that would only be added to with the increase of residents and visitors 
on the VA site.
    Responses to the Preliminary Draft Final Master Plan commented on 
the poor quality of walkways, grade management, and visible bus stops. 
Many requests were made to improve roadway infrastructure in the 
surrounding areas particularly for safe and accessible bus/shuttle 
stops as well as safer and better-designed entrance/exit ramps, bicycle 
lanes and pedestrian infrastructure along Wilshire Boulevard.
    Lastly, a number of comments to the Federal Register concerned the 
current poor traffic flow in the West LA area and the probable impact 
of the hundred or even thousands of new residents and visitors the 
campus could bring to the area. The majority of comments asked for the 
Draft Master Plan to carefully assess and plan for the growing traffic 
conditions in areas around the campus.
    Circulation is one of the key factors in the Draft Master Plan even 
in its earliest conceptual development. Circulation considerations 
include road, bike, shuttle and pedestrian networks; it also considers 
site features, programming, security and accessibility concerns. The 
Draft Master Plan evaluates all of the existing conditions both inside 
and around the GLA campus based on available data. There are a number 
of further studies that the plan recommends in order to optimize the 
GLA campus circulation network designs, including a more in-depth 
traffic study. Still, the circulation plan must aspire to optimize 
development of the site and contribute to restoring the campus to its 
legacy as a Soldier's Home.
    A key priority of the Draft Master Plan is to include various forms 
of transportation and to accommodate all Veteran needs on campus. 
Therefore, the Draft Master Plan includes campus network designs for 
pedestrian, bicycle, shuttle routes as well as a newly designed road 
network. The campus will be able to be navigated by pedestrian, 
bicycle, shuttle and vehicle routes. The design of these routes creates 
zones with different levels of accessibility and security. The road 
networks were designed to establish a hierarchy of routes that will 
allow the campus to be efficiently connected and navigated. The Draft 
Master Plan includes a design for a shuttle system with four routes 
that provide transportation to each end of the campus as well as beyond 
the campus boundaries. The shuttle routes radiate from key areas of 
Veteran services and interaction, such as the Town Center and each of 
the neighborhood centers.
    The site's topography, including features such as the bluff and 
arroyo, had a great influence on the Draft Master Plan's road network 
design. The grade change throughout the campus was a concern for 
pedestrian circulation throughout the site. It was important that 
pedestrian circulation have a wide range of foot paths including routes 
that pedestrians with physical disabilities would be able to move 
throughout the campus. The Draft Master Plan proposed a pedestrian 
``spine'' that runs to each end of the campus, including a pedestrian 
bridge over Wilshire Boulevard, that maintains a maximum grade change 
of 5%, serving as an important mode of accessibility.
    The Draft Master Plan also proposed a 2.5 mile loop dedicated to 
non-vehicular traffic. This loop will provide much needed recreational 
space for the campus as well as contribute to the transportation 
network of the campus. Apart from the loop, the plan provides over 5 
additional miles of bicycle routes or lanes throughout the campus.
    The Draft Master Plan adds an access point to the campus along the 
north side and locates this point south of the Barrington Post Office 
in order to reduce impact on the already high traffic intersections 
around Brentwood Village. The Draft Master Plan adds access points 
along the west side of campus, both from the north campus onto Bringham 
Avenue and from the south campus onto Federal Avenue. The Draft Master 
Plan also uses the Constitution Avenue entrance from Sepulveda 
Boulevard for direct access into a proposed Reintegration Zone within 
the Industrial District on the east side. Lastly, there are additional 
access points to the south campus that run parallel to the existing 
access point from Ohio Avenue, offering alternative access to the 
southbound I-405 freeway. The update plan now includes a proposal for 
the Transit Authority to have a station stop on the campus that will 
have passenger portals with access to the medical section of the campus 
and to the industrial and cultural district of the campus.
    To address the surrounding community's concerns about traffic, the 
plan aims to reduce potential negative impact of campus development by 
providing multiple points of entry and egress to distribute traffic 
among multiple route options. The Draft Master Plan encourages multiple 
forms of transportation to reduce the dependency on the car. The 
objective is for the campus to be completely accessible for all 
Veterans without use of a private vehicle.

Clinical

    Definition of Clinical subcategory: Any comments discussing the GLA 
Medical Center clinical care as well as any comments discussing 
expanding clinical care to include therapeutic and/or holistic 
approaches to Veteran care.

Response

    VA received numerous comments on clinical care and Veteran services 
on the GLA campus. The majority of comments that fell under this 
category focused on specific service areas, including: Self-care 
instruction and volunteerism; peer-support specialist services 
(including a concierge); family and caregiver support (including child-
care); housing (emergency, triage, bridge, transitional and permanent 
supportive); integrative (non-traditional, alternative) healthcare; 
rehabilitative services and healing arts; forums for traditional and 
non-traditional spiritual practice; education, vocational training and 
job placement; benefits, financial coaching and a full range of legal 
services; on-site employment and entrepreneurism, and recreation 
(individual/team sports, entertainment and leisure. Veteran comments 
consistently requested enhancements to these service areas to provide a 
holistic, 21st Century approach to Veteran care.
    As VA revitalizes and reinvigorates the physical plan of the GLA 
campus, it must also add to the service plan both on the campus and in 
the community. The goal is to create a vibrant, welcoming, Veteran-
focused, outcomes-driven model for Veterans and their families. The 
services must be strength-based, holistic, and aimed at helping the 
Veteran and the Veteran's family beyond the traditional medical models. 
Practically speaking, it means ``how'', ``when'' and ``where'' services 
are delivered must conform to the needs of the Veteran. This is 
particularly relevant for Veterans who are aging, disadvantaged, and 
suffering from chronic debilitating illnesses like schizophrenia and 
other psychotic disorders, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), 
addictions and/or

[[Page 5523]]

other medical complications that compromise the Veteran's quality of 
life. It is particularly relevant for female Veterans who need 
designated space and services to address their unique healthcare and 
preventative healthcare needs. The campus must also have capacity to 
address the wellbeing and preventative care concerns of younger 
veterans transitioning back to civilian life by addressing their 
employment, educational, familial and other reintegration issues. 
Lastly there is a need to ensure
    Services must also be delivered in partnership with VA's academic 
affiliates, including UCLA, and other VA partners who have expertise in 
caring for homeless and other vulnerable Veteran populations. As part 
of the service enhancements, it will be critical to create improved 
access processes through not only more effective staff and volunteer 
efforts, but also through a resource center and the use of Veteran peer 
supports (concierges) that improves the ease with which various parts 
of the campus can be navigated.
    VA also received numerous comments related to existing services 
provided at the GLA campus (i.e., Mental Health Services). Comments of 
this nature were outside the scope of a master planning process; 
however, are still important feedback as VA evaluates and enhances GLA 
campus operations. Comments relating to existing services and providers 
on campus were grouped and forwarded to VISN leadership for 
consideration as VA continues to evaluate the GLA Medical Center 
organizational structure.
    For more information on proposed Veteran services' enhancements, 
please refer to Chapter II, Section B of the Draft Master Plan.

Connectivity

    Definition of Connectivity subcategory: Any comment on integrating 
the campus into the surrounding community, or public access to the 
campus.

Response

    There were some conflicting ideas on campus/public connectivity 
submitted to the Federal Register. A small number of comment 
submissions expressed the need for the campus to be entirely and 
strictly returned exclusively to the Veteran community. Opposing 
comments expressed the desire for some of the land to be utilized or 
even bestowed for public or community use. However, the majority of 
comments asked for the campus to have permeable space throughout the 
campus that encourages Veteran/civilian interaction and community 
building.
    At 388 acres, the campus is big enough to accommodate a wide 
variety of needs and conditions, but it must be used to service the 
Veteran community. This includes the facilitation of reintegration and 
community building desired by so many Veterans. The VA campus has 
provided valued resources for the communities of Los Angeles for 
decades. However, it is important that the Draft Master Plan focus on 
providing an accessible, community rich, therapeutic space for 
Veterans. The Draft Master Plan includes a variety of places that can 
create a sense of security and safety for Veterans, and other more 
permeable spaces that can be shared with others as appropriate in order 
to ``emphasize community, not campus''.
    The Draft Master Plan focuses on making the campus a destination 
for all Veterans. The site is meant to be a home and a community. The 
planning process recognizes 21st century models for re-integration that 
connect with the community-at-large and the Draft Master Plan was 
devised to build connections not just in spatial design but also in the 
programming of supportive services on campus. The plan includes major 
advancements in campus programming aimed at drawing in Veterans of all 
demographics, as well as to give Veterans the opportunity to create 
programs that can include members of the public, working together to 
enhance the Veteran community on campus. For example, beyond the need 
for Veteran housing and services, the plan proposed to incorporate 
cultural activities, community spaces, recreation and entertainment, 
and Veteran employment opportunities. The intent is to discourage the 
isolation of Veterans by designating physical zones on campus that have 
directed purposes and uses with varying degrees of public and Veteran 
permeability.
    The Draft Master Plan proposed five zones within the campus. The 
most open and accessible of the zones, Zone 5, forms a ring around 
Zones 2, 3, and 4 that hold the majority of non-medical Veteran 
services including most of the campus housing. This peripheral zone 
includes the campus recreational areas and green space as well as the 
campus industrial district and is intended to be the permeable outer 
ring of the campus. Although accessible and open, the outer ring also 
acts as a subtle barrier, wrapping the Veteran community within the 
exclusive core. The inner zones will be more exclusive areas that limit 
public access and even create some spaces only accessible to resident 
Veterans.
    To address security concerns, the plan utilizes organizational and 
landscaping techniques to create soft barriers throughout the campus. 
This landscape and organization of the campus separates programs and 
areas that are exclusive to Veterans such as supportive housing and 
some counseling services. The organization of space as well as the use 
of landscape divides these spaces from the more permeable areas of the 
campus. In some particular situations, times or areas, a gate or access 
cards may be employed to further strengthen security of areas of the 
campus and select buildings.
    The Veteran Vocational Enterprise and Cultural Center should be an 
important part of Veteran reintegration through public interface. This 
area of the campus should serve as a center of reintegration services 
and will include education, training and career counseling as well as 
entrepreneurial, employment and community spaces. As it is part of a 
public access zone, the area would include public infrastructure such 
as parking to accommodate its new uses. This area should utilize public 
interest and volunteers to form an urban space that will help to ease 
Veterans into civilian life in the Los Angeles area.
    Also in Zone 5 is recreational and open space on the north end of 
the campus. Already acting as green space, with a more efficient use of 
space this area can provide the Veteran community and possibly the 
neighboring communities with open space, gardens and fields. For 
example, the area that is currently designated as the Veteran's parking 
lot servicing Brentwood Village, can be utilized by Veteran-owned 
businesses and still provide parking to the neighboring community. 
Central to this concept of public access is that it is Veteran-owned 
and Veteran controlled and the public is welcome to share it by 
invitation.

Housing & Campus Restoration

    Definition of Housing & Campus Restoration subcategory: Any 
comments discussing housing development on campus, methods to foster a 
sense of community among the campus residents, or the physical 
revitalization of the campus.

Response

    VA received numerous Federal Register comments related to housing 
for Veterans on the GLA campus. There was overwhelming support for 
providing housing for Veterans on the campus, and the majority of 
comments addressed the types of housing to be provided.

[[Page 5524]]

    Some common housing themes in the comments received include (1) 
increase the amount of housing over the total units originally proposed 
(2) add housing units as quickly as possible (3) ensure all housing is 
low cost and affordable to Veterans (4) various types of housing (i.e. 
housing and neighborhoods with character) and (5) the need for 
permanent supportive housing. Some common themes also emerged regarding 
the target population for the housing which generally fall into the 
following three categories: (1) Ensure housing is open to those 
Veterans with the most need (2) provide housing for female veterans 
with and without dependents (3) allow access for Veterans in need but 
not identified in the specific target populations. Finally, the 
comments expressed a desire to build a sense of community with the 
housing as opposed to purely functional housing.
    VA committed to bringing affordable housing for Veterans to the GLA 
campus, and the Draft Master Plan now includes housing for the 
projected need of 1200 units, based on the Housing Needs and Analysis 
contained in Chapter II. This accounts for 300 more units than was 
identified in the initial plan. Chapter II of the Draft Master Plan 
identifies specific target populations (severely disabled Veterans, 
including chronically homeless Veterans; aging Veterans; and female 
Veterans with and without dependents), but would be available to all 
Veterans in need. The Draft Master Plan has planned for this housing to 
be developed with a sense of `community', which is described in detail 
in Chapter V of the Draft Master Plan.

Land Use Agreements

    Definition of Land Use Agreements subcategory: Any comments 
discussing existing use of or proposing future use of land by a third 
party organization including UCLA, Brentwood School, Barrington Park 
operators, and the Westside Breakers.

Response

    Feedback provided to VA during this master planning process from 
Veterans, Veterans Service Organizations, local authorities, 
congressional delegates, philanthropic organizations, the local 
community, and other stakeholders, expressed a consistent desire for 
the campus to: maximize the potential to reflect a transformed, 
strategic, and informed configuration and implementation focused on 
Veterans and their families; provide convenient access to facilities 
and resources via all pertinent modes of transportation; function 
effectively with appropriate levels and types of VA and non-VA care and 
staffing in pertinent and underpopulated disciplines; extend an 
inviting, warm, and welcoming environment to attract Veterans and their 
families across all spectrums; function effectively and in harmony with 
the surrounding community and business activities; and foster 
employment and career opportunities to help Veterans improve their 
lives and continue as productive members of society--all as envisioned 
in the 1888 deed that conveyed the campus to the United States.
    Consistent with this appreciated feedback, VA's vision for the 
campus includes a goal to provide various types of housing on campus 
for Veterans and their families, particularly homeless, severely 
disabled, aging, and female Veterans. This will improve the choice for 
Veterans to either live on or off campus, in dignified facilities 
reflective of the sacrifices they have made for their country. If 
enacted, the Los Angeles Homeless Veterans Leasing Act of 2015 (i.e., 
S. 2013 and H.R. 3484) that Congressman Ted Lieu introduced in the 
House on September 10, 2015, and Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced in 
the Senate on October 6, 2015, would allow VA to provide Enhanced-Use 
(EU) Leases at the GLA campus.
    VA's EU Lease authority as contained in 38 U.S.C. 8161-8169, would 
enable us to outlease parcels on the campus to selected lessees for 
terms of up to 75 years, to develop, operate, and maintain ``supportive 
housing'' for Veterans and their families. The types of housing would 
be a myriad of housing options to strategically serve Veterans in need, 
regardless of era of service. Such housing types would consist of 
transitional housing, single room occupancy housing, congregate living 
housing, independent living housing, assisted living housing, and other 
modalities of housing. When using this authority, VA would be expressly 
prohibited from disposing of the land and improvements involved in the 
projects at the GLA campus. At the end of the lease term, the real 
property would revert back to VA. Currently at other VA campuses 
nationwide, VA has 1,909 units of EU Lease housing currently 
operational, 1,046 units under construction, and 494 units planned, for 
a total of 3,994 units.
    These two bills would also help VA revitalize the campus, by 
allowing VA to grant leases for terms of up to 50 years, to provide 
amenities and services, where Veterans can engage with one another and 
their families, and pursue a wide range of activities centered on their 
social, entertainment, healing, spiritual, employment, recreational, 
and rehabilitative interests and well-being.
    Examples include spaces to accommodate Veteran and family 
interaction, peer support, restaurants, eateries, child care, legal and 
benefits assistance, movie and play theaters, art studios, a Veteran 
employment center, sports fields, a gymnasium, swimming pool, golf 
course, bike paths, parking spaces, dog park and kennel, church 
services, weddings, funerals, internments, non-profit Veteran support 
centers, hotel, dentist office, motorcycle training, a metro stop, and 
retail areas.
    The two bills would also allow VA to grant a lease to institutions 
of the state of California, for a term of up to 10 years, in return for 
the provision of services to Veterans. Such services may include 
activities to directly support the medical, clinical, therapeutic, 
dietary, rehabilitative, legal, mental, spiritual, physical, 
recreational, research, and counseling needs of Veterans and their 
families. In an effort to maximize that opportunity, VA will explore 
the viability of further leverages to the current medical and academic 
affiliation with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). The 
providing of such services for Veterans and their families on and off 
the Greater Los Angeles campus, including through sports, recreational, 
educational, employment, and entertainment activities at the existing 
Jackie Robinson baseball stadium, will be a force multiplier in VA's 
efforts to revitalize the campus.
    It will enable UCLA to confirm and demonstrate its firm commitment 
going forward, to ensure that its relationship with VA, Veterans, the 
local community, and other stakeholders, is one of true unwavering 
significance and substance in those areas for Veterans, as well as for 
educating future generations of doctors, nurses, researchers, and 
academics at VA and UCLA sites of care. This synergy could provide a 
framework and model to improve other academic and medical affiliations 
between VA and other medical schools and educational institutions 
nationwide, and provide benefits that transcend the paradigm of VA, the 
universities, institutions, and Veterans involved. For example, it 
could assist VA with its other potential partners such as: The 
Brentwood School, which has offered to provide therapy and recreational 
opportunities on its campus, along with scholarships for children of 
Veterans; the Red Cross, which has offered to assist VA in its disaster 
preparedness responsibilities and obligations, which will help improve 
campus capabilities and ensure

[[Page 5525]]

sustainability; and bolster VA's ongoing implementation of key Veteran 
programs like the G.I. Bill.
    While working to achieve this vision for the campus, VA will 
evaluate existing and future land use agreements to ensure they are 
``Veteran focused.'' This means the arrangements must provide direct 
benefits to Veterans and their families, and provide negotiated fair 
market rent to VA. VA will also continue its ongoing efforts to 
terminate any existing third party use arrangements, which fall outside 
of providing direct benefits to Veterans. VA will do so in a manner 
that takes into account the legal parameters for doing so, based on the 
underlying contract provisions at issue, and the need for VA to be 
stewards of tax payer resources. And it will be VA's objective going 
forward, to work with Congress to ensure that if S. 2013 or H.R. 1543 
is enacted, the revenues paid to VA from Veteran focused land use 
arrangements, will be directed to help renovate the GLA campus. Doing 
so will help us maintain and renovate the campus in accordance with 
applicable law and regulations, along with funding that VA receives 
through other prioritization, budgetary, congressional authorization 
and appropriation legislative, and enactment processes.
    We will also effectuate these land use activities in a way that 
fosters ongoing engagement with and input from Veterans, Veteran 
Service Organizations, the local community, and other stakeholders, and 
ensures the continued safety of Veterans, VA personnel, and other 
persons traversing on and off the campus. And it is worth repeating 
that such reuse activities will not include VA selling or disposing of 
any of the land at the campus to third party entities. And the land use 
projects and activities will comply with all pertinent laws and 
regulations. This includes those regarding environmental and historic 
preservation, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 
4321-4370h); the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470, et 
seq.); and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and 
Liability Act (42 U.S.C. 9601-9675).
    Going forward, VA's efforts to revitalize the campus will only 
include `Veteran focused' agreements, or agreements that result in 
additional healthcare, benefits, services, or resources being provided 
directly to Veterans and/or their families on the GLA campus. Monetary 
proceeds paid to VA alone will not constitute an acceptable agreement. 
Neither will agreements that only benefit the public at large, versus 
Veterans and their families. This concept will be a key consideration 
in terms of how existing and any future land use agreements are 
evaluated for approval, rejection, or termination.
    VA's review of any proposed third party land use agreements will 
entail a linear, multilayered process, to ensure adequate due diligence 
occurs. At a minimum, each agreement will receive input from the 
following VA personnel:

(1) West LA Chief of Outreach
(2) VAMC Director
(3) VISN 22 Director
(4) SAO West Land Use Contracting Officer
(5) The San Francisco Regional Counsel Office (now known as the Pacific 
District (North))
(6) OGC's Real Property Deputy Chief Counsel in VA Headquarters

    This Veteran focused intent for all land use agreements at GLA 
going forward is absolutely appropriate and warranted, particularly 
given the lessons learned from the August 2013 District Court for 
Central District of California decision in the Valentini v. McDonald 
case, which held that nine of the existing land use agreements were 
illegal as they did not constitute a valid sharing of ``health-care 
resources'' under VA's Enhanced-Sharing Authority. Given those two 
clear principles, and as part of the ``Principles for Partnership 
Agreement'' that settled the Valentini lawsuit in January 2015, VA 
Secretary Robert McDonald commissioned an extensive review of the land 
use agreements at GLA, including those nine voided agreements. The nine 
agreements voided under the Court decision were as follows:

1. Brentwood School
2. Sodexho Marriott Laundry Services
3. UCLA Regents (Baseball Stadium)
4. 20th Century Fox TV
5. Veterans Park Conservancy
6. Westside Breakers Soccer Club
7. Westside Services Parking
8. TCM Farmer's Market
9. Filming Agreement ESAs

    All land use agreements at the GLA campus, including the above nine 
agreements, have or are being reviewed, to determine whether they are 
or can be made sufficiently Veteran focused (thru fair market value 
rent to VA and services directly benefitting Veterans and their 
families), and fit within the overall needs and vision for a 
revitalized campus. To date, the terminated agreements include Richmark 
Entertainment; various filming agreements; Sodexo laundry agreement; 
20th Century Fox; Westside Breakers; TCM Farmer's Market; and Veterans 
Garden (Rancho Santa Ana). VA is also in negotiations with the 
principals of certain existing land use arrangements (e.g., Brentwood 
School, UCLA, Westside Services, and Veterans Park Conservancy), to 
help assess the potential for Veteran focused consideration, and 
compatibility with the Draft Master Plan. As appropriate for those 
arrangements deemed to be Veteran focused, VA will seek to negotiate 
deals that are good for Veterans, their families, and our nation's tax 
payers, through a combination of fair market value rents, and Veteran 
focused consideration (such as in-kind consideration and use of 
existing and future facilities under those arrangements for purposes 
tied to recreation, rehabilitation, therapy, mental health support, 
legal and addiction services). The consideration generated will help VA 
significantly to transform and revitalize the campus into a state-of-
the art model for other VA campuses nationwide.

Parking

    Definition of Parking subcategory: Any comments discussing current 
or potential parking issues on campus including the Brentwood Village 
parking lot.

Response

    VA received a number of Federal Register comments related to 
parking on the Greater Los Angeles campus. Parking related comments 
generally fell under one of two topics; comments requesting adequate 
parking for the main hospital building and comments regarding the 
Brentwood Village parking lot on the northern portion of the campus. 
The majority of comments regarding the Brentwood Village parking lot 
were in support of keeping this lot open for public use while 
simultaneously building Veteran focused partnerships with local 
community and businesses; however, there were also some comments that 
supported closing the Brentwood Village lot off to the general public.
    VA is aware of the need for adequate parking at the main hospital 
building and throughout the campus, and as part of the implementation 
of the Draft Master Plan VA plans to improve the efficiency of the 
existing parking assets. Moreover, a critical component of the New Bed 
Care Tower (Replacement Hospital) project will be associated parking 
that should accommodate all parking demand for Veterans, employees, and 
visitors at the GLA Medical Center.
    VA would not be opposed to keeping the Brentwood Village parking 
lot

[[Page 5526]]

operational, as long as any land use agreement is Veteran focused and 
complies with the land use procedures described in further detail in 
the Land Use Agreements section of this document.
    To maintain flexibility for the potential of continued public use, 
VA has edited the Preliminary Draft Final Master Plan by relocating the 
campus access point that had previously required the demolition of the 
Brentwood Village parking lot. Additional information regarding the 
proposed parking can be found the Draft Master Plan, Chapter V, Section 
B--Master Plan Framework, Subsection Campus Mobility Plan.

Transparency & Accountability

    Definition of Transparency & Accountability subcategory: Any 
comments discussing or raising issues to the VISN or VAMC level 
leadership as well as any comment proposing the implementation of an 
external campus oversight council.

Response

    A number of Transparency & Accountability comments raised concerns 
regarding the transparency of VISN and VAMC during strategic decision 
making processes. These comments generally requested that procedures be 
put into place to ensure that VA leadership keep the local Veteran 
population apprised of developing changes within the VISN and on GLA 
campus. The other common thread among these comments stressed that VISN 
and VAMC level leadership must hold poorly performing employees 
accountable. Many of these comments were general in nature, but noted 
past unpleasant experiences at VISN 22 facilities or at GLA campus 
specifically. They asked that VISN and VAMC level leadership open 
themselves to criticism more frequently and respond quickly.
    To address concerns over transparency, VA plans to augment its 
current efforts to provide stakeholder updates and open the floor to 
Veteran and civilian input through regular VSO meetings, congressional 
meetings, and Town Halls. The first of such meetings will be planned 
for 90 days after VA Secretary Robert McDonald adopts the Draft Master 
Plan. In collaboration with Veteran groups, community partners and 
other stakeholders, VA will periodically review and reevaluate the 
Draft Master Plan every three years, to ensure the plan continues to 
meet the evolving needs of Veterans. The feedback process will be 
continued as VA selects new leadership for the GLA Campus (i.e., three 
senior executives--specifically the new GLA Medical Center Director; 
the Director of Land Use Agreement & Community Engagement and 
Reintegration Services; and Director of Community Based Care, including 
the Sepulveda campus and Community Based Outpatient Clinics).
    To more promptly respond to criticisms of provided services, VA 
plans to strengthen the MyVA communities in the Los Angeles area. MyVA 
Communities are a collaborative network of Veterans, advocates, 
resources, and other stakeholders who organize through community 
Veteran Engagement Boards, to improve outcomes for Veterans, and their 
communities. The MyVA Communities model enables Veteran advocates, 
service providers, Veterans, and stakeholders to have a voice in 
providing input and feedback to VA, and identifying their goals and 
ways to engage and improve service delivery for Veterans and their 
families. The Los Angeles area Veteran Engagement Boards will carry the 
visions of the Draft Master Plan forward. Building and sustaining these 
avenues for continued Veteran feedback is a critical component of 
maintaining the Draft Master Plan, as a guiding resource for 
revitalizing and enhancing the GLA campus. All of this will be done to 
ensure appropriate oversight and Veteran collaboration while increasing 
transparency and accountability.
    The Draft Master Plan document introduces the Community Veterans 
Engagement Board which is a collaborative, coordinated process to 
amplify the Veterans voice in matters that affect how, where, and when 
they receive care and services. Additional information can be found in 
Chapter III of the Draft Master Plan.

Veteran Access

    Definition of Veteran Access subcategory: Any comments emphasizing 
the need to promote access of specific Veteran populations on campus or 
requesting additional services to eliminate barriers to accessing the 
campus. These comments also include various other operational requests 
to promote and enhance Veteran access to the campus such as Veteran 
employment and education opportunities, family services, Veteran 
Benefits assistance, Transition Center, legal counsel services, 
emergency preparedness services, extended hours of operations, etc.

Response

    The public comments suggested that there should be no VA sale of 
any portions of the campus, to third parties for commercial uses. Other 
comments indicated a desire for a facility to add a focus aimed at 
assisting with the transition of active-duty military personnel to 
Veteran status. Other comments regarded the need to expand existing 
mental health, addition services, and transition services for active 
duty members entering the VA system. Comments also expressed desire for 
VA to collocate VBA onto the campus for improved ease to conduct 
business relating to VA's benefits system. Others want VA to establish 
a wellness or well-being center on campus, where Veterans can engage in 
peer to peer interaction and socializing, each other and their 
families. Other comments involved a need for support and special 
housing facilities for Veterans comprising the underserved 
populations--namely those that are homeless, severely disabled, aging, 
and women--particularly females with children, to assist in the 
recovery for those that have suffered sexual trauma, mental or physical 
abuse, or PTSD.
    In response to these comments received, it is first important to 
note that neither VA nor the Draft Master Plan contemplated VA selling 
or disposing of any of the land and improvements at the Greater Los 
Angeles campus. VA envisions the development of supportive housing on 
campus pursuant to legislation Congress recently introduced in both 
houses of Congress--specifically, the Los Angeles homeless Veterans 
leasing act of 2015 (Senate Bill S. 2013 and corresponding house Bill 
HR 3484). VA has a phased development plan of 1,200 supportive housing 
units on the campus. The proposed timeline involves developing 60 units 
within the next 12 months, 150 units over the next 24 to 30 months, 280 
units over the next 30 months, 280 units over the next 4 to 5 years, 
and 430 units over the next 6 to 10 years--all totaling 1,200 units. VA 
plans for those units to have special emphasis on homeless, severely 
disabled, aging, and female Veterans. The goal will be to strategically 
locate units designated for those underserved populations, in a manner 
to provide convenient access to the pertinent care and services that 
they will need, in a safe setting and environment. Along with 
development of those units would be Veteran focused supportive service 
leases, geared towards Veteran Health and wellness, nutrition and 
spiritual wellness, education, vocational training, skills building, 
peer activities, socialization, and physical recreation, assistance 
with legal issues and federal benefits,

[[Page 5527]]

volunteerism, family support services, child care services, and 
transportation.
    Regarding the issue of helping active-duty service members to 
transition to Veteran status, VA plans to offer and provide transition 
services in the southwest corner of the VA campus, near the U.S. Army 
Reserve Center and Army National Guard Recruiter facilities adjacent to 
the GLA campus. VA understands that service members often encounter a 
series of needs as they transition out of the military. Such needs 
could include securing employment and housing, addressing physical or 
mental health issues, and adjusting to civilian culture. The ease 
through which this transition is made has a profound impact on post 
service well-being. To complement the planned transition services, VA 
has also established a new Welcome Center in Building 257, where 
Veterans have access to a facility and setting that facilitates peer to 
peer interaction and socialization, and VA and non-VA support 
providers. Improved transition into VA will heighten the existing need 
for expanded primary care and targeted hiring. VA plans to address 
those needs through more targeted VA hiring at the campus, and improved 
options for Veteran care through the Choice Act. For more information 
on these issues, see Chapter IV, Figure V-7, and Chapter V of the Draft 
Master Plan.
    The Draft Master Plan is available to the public at http://www.losangeles.va.gov/.

    Dated: January 29, 2016.
Michael Shores,
Chief Impact Analyst, Office of Regulation Policy & Management.
[FR Doc. 2016-01940 Filed 2-1-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 8320-01-P