BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                        SENATE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS
                              Senator Ben Hueso, Chair
                                               


          BILL NO:  SB 725                   HEARING DATE: 4/9/13
          AUTHOR:   Anderson
          VERSION:  As introduced
          FISCAL:   No
          VOTE:     21




                                        SUBJECT  
          
          Veterans buildings and memorials: county and city property:  
          veterans service organizations: retrofit and remodel.  

           
                                      DESCRIPTION  
           
          Existing law:

                  Provides that, when a county has provided or maintained  
               a memorial hall or other building or meeting place for the  
               use of veterans' organizations, the provision of that  
               facility and its acceptance by the veterans' organizations  
               constitutes a dedication of that property to a public  
               purpose.

                 Provides that the county may not revoke the dedication  
               -so long as the veterans' association has not violated the  
               terms and conditions of the dedication - unless the county  
               dedicates substitute facilities or unless the veterans'  
               organization has either consented to the proposed county  
               action or has abandoned its use of the facilities.

           
          This bill:

                  Provides that the property shall not be considered  
               abandoned if the veterans service organization is required  












               to move from the property in order for the property to  
               undergo seismic retrofitting or remodeling.

                 Provides that, upon completion of any retrofit or  
               remodeling, the veterans service organization shall be  
               allowed to return to its previous space in the property.



                                           
                                     BACKGROUND  
          
           General
           Since well before World War Two, California law has authorized  
          counties to provide and/or maintain buildings, memorial halls,  
          meeting places, memorial parks, or recreation centers for the  
          use of veterans' organizations.

          In facilitating these purposes, existing law provides  
          authorization and guidance to county boards of supervisors in  
          the receiving, purchasing or other acquisition of buildings and  
          property, repairing and maintaining the buildings and property,  
          and funding all the above through the levy of special taxes or  
          incurrence of bonded indebtedness.

          Counties also may act jointly with any of its incorporated  
          cities in accomplishing these purposes.

          The county may provide these veterans' facilities for the use of  
          nonveteran persons or organizations, either free of charge or at  
          cost of defraying maintenance, so long as the non-veteran use  
          does not interfere with the reasonable use of the facilities by  
          veterans' organizations.

           Bob Hope Patriotic Hall
           Los Angeles County's Patriotic Hall veterans' building was  
          constructed in 1925. (In 2004, the facility was rededicated and  
          renamed in honor of Bob Hope.)

          According to the Los Angeles Times (August 9, 2012):

            The American Legion was the hall's first tenant in 1925.  
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            Offices for local legion posts and the organization's county  
            council were located on its eighth floor. Legionnaires used a  
            large first-floor assembly hall off an ornate, domed lobby for  
            ceremonies and club rooms on the second, third and fourth  
            floors were used for smaller meetings. . . .

            Other veterans' groups also became long-term tenants. Two  
            local chapters of Disabled American Veterans had offices  
            there. So did American Veterans (AMVets), Jewish War Veterans  
            of the U.S., the Filipino Veterans Foundation, Veterans of  
            Foreign Wars (VFW), the Horn of Plenty veterans food  
            collection service, the Brotherhood Rally of All Veterans  
            Organizations (BRAVO) and the Employer Support of the Guard  
            and Reserve.

          In 2009, the County Board of Supervisors approved a $45.3  
          million project to renovate the Hall. The renovation included  
          replacement of the building's mechanical, electrical, plumbing,  
          and ventilation systems; renovation of the 10th floor gymnasium,  
          full service kitchen, and vertical transportation systems;  
          restoration of the 474-seat auditorium, American with  
          Disabilities Act upgrades, and landscaping and reconfiguration  
          of the existing surface parking lot.

          Tenants were moved out of the building into temporary quarters  
          until the renovation is completed. In 2012, as the project  
          neared completion, several veterans groups, including the  
          American Legion, publicly expressed concern that they would not  
          be getting their old office space back. The groups said they  
          were told that they are being relocated into the hall's basement  
          and "crammed into cubicles" erected in a former dining room.

          American Legion leaders said they are prepared to go to court if  
          necessary to get their post's original eighth-floor space back.  
          They said state law guarantees veteran groups' continued use of  
          a memorial hall unless the organization "abandons" the structure  
          - something the Legion has not done.

           
           
                                           
                                       COMMENT  
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           1.Author statement  :

          "As aging public places throughout California gradually require  
          repair and upkeep, good intentions sometimes suffer from  
          confusion and uncertainty. One example is described by LA  
          Downtown News: "Patriotic Hall has been home primarily to  
          various veterans' organizations. These groups moved out in 2006  
          when the building was closed. Several of the groups, including  
          American Legion Post 8 are in temporary offices on Grand Avenue  
          and intend on returning to Patriotic Hall when the renovations  
          are complete in 2012. The original deed specified that the  
          building must remain a veteran's facility as long as such groups  
          wanted to stay there, but with the dwindling amount of veterans  
          since World War II, the building has been used for other  
          things?.

          According to the Los Angeles Times, "On September 8, 2009, the  
          County of Los Angeles Board of Supervisors approved a $45.3  
          million project to renovate the historic Bob Hope Patriotic  
          Hall. The renovation includes replacement of the building's  
          mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and ventilation systems;  
          renovation of the 10th floor gymnasium, full service kitchen,  
          and vertical transportation systems; restoration of the 474-seat  
          auditorium, American with Disabilities Act upgrades, and  
          landscaping and reconfiguration of the existing surface parking  
          lot.  The building's historic features have been restored in  
          accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards. The  
          renovation is also anticipated to achieve the Leadership in  
          Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification upon  
          its completion, which is anticipated in the Spring of 2013.

          "As construction of the renovation project nears completion, the  
          County has begun to meet with veterans service organizations  
          that were former tenants of Bob Hope Patriotic Hall to discuss  
          space and operational needs. The County plans to work with  
          veterans' service organizations and other entities to create a  
          full service center that focuses solely on supporting U.S.  
          Military Veterans and their families in their transition from  
          military to civilian life."

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           2.Committee Staff Comments  :

          Los Angeles County responded on the Patriotic Hall controversy.  
          The County Chief Executive Officer's (CEO) report (September 10,  
          2012) to the Board of Supervisors states:

            In 2010, prior to the start of construction activities, the  
            tenants of Patriotic Hall included veterans and non-veterans  
            organizations occupying office and cubicle spaces; the  
            building's conference/meeting spaces, auditorium, and  
            gymnasium were utilized by government/department/agency;  
            non-veterans groups/public; and veteran's organizations. In  
            fiscal year 2005-2006, the building usage was as follows:


             --------------------------------------------------- 
            |Entity Type           |   Hours   |   Percentage   |
            |----------------------+-----------+----------------|
            |Non-Veterans/Public   |8,952      |50.44%          |
            |----------------------+-----------+----------------|
            |Department of         |5,401      |30.42%          |
            |Military and Veterans |           |                |
            |Affairs (MVA)         |           |                |
            |----------------------+-----------+----------------|
            |Veterans              |3,397      |19.14%          |
            |Organizations         |           |                |
            |----------------------+-----------+----------------|
            |TOTAL                 |17,750     |100.00%         |
             --------------------------------------------------- 

          In addition, LA County says that the County CEO and the MVA  
          Department conducted a meeting in November 2012 with the tenant  
          veterans' organizations. Subsequently, a questionnaire was sent  
          out to these stakeholder groups inquiring about their space  
          needs and uses.

          The survey results will be included in a preliminary space plan  
          to be presented to the stakeholders at a second meeting to be  
          held either later April or early May. The meeting will include a  
          walk-through of Patriotic Hall, for which renovations have  
          reached substantial completion.  Feedback will be solicited from  
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          the stakeholders at that meeting and their comments on the  
          preliminary plan will be incorporated into a final plan which  
          will again be presented to the stakeholders.  The final plan  
          will also be eventually presented to the Board for approval.




                                      POSTITIONS  
          
          Sponsor:  American Legion - Department of California  
          (co-sponsor)
                    AMVETS - Department of California (co-sponsor)
                    Vietnam Veterans of America - California State Council  
          (co-sponsor)


          Support:  California Association of County Veterans Service  
          Officers (CAVSO)
                    California State Commanders Veterans Council
                    Veterans of Foreign Ware (VFW) - Department of  
                    California

          Oppose:   None received
          
          Analysis by: Wade Cooper Teasdale















          SB 725 (Anderson)                                                 
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