BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    




                     SENATE GOVERNANCE & FINANCE COMMITTEE
                            Senator Lois Wolk, Chair
          

          BILL NO:  SB 725                      HEARING:  5/8/13
          AUTHOR:  Anderson                     FISCAL:  No
          VERSION:  5/1/13                      TAX LEVY:  No
          CONSULTANT:  Austin                   

                VETERANS' ORGANIZATIONS' USE OF PUBLIC PROPERTY
          

          Ensures that veterans' organizations can return to  
          veterans' dedicated buildings after being displaced for  
          building repairs and renovations.


                           Background and Existing Law  

          Shortly after World War I, California law authorized  
          counties and cities to provide and maintain buildings,  
          memorials, or meeting places for the use of veterans'  
          organizations (SB 935, Irwin, 1921 and AB 688, Burns,  
          1927).  

          A county may act jointly with a city to provide and  
          maintain public spaces for veterans.  Title to property  
          acquired for this purpose may be held jointly or  
          transferred to a county or a city.

          State law requires that when a county provides a facility  
          for the use of or benefit of veterans' organizations, its  
          acceptance by the veterans' organizations constitutes a  
          dedication of that property to a public purpose (SB 544,  
          Dills, 1989).  The county may not revoke the dedication  
          unless:
                 The veterans' organizations violate the terms and  
               conditions of dedication, 
                 The county dedicates substitute facilities, 
                 The veterans' organizations consent to the proposed  
               county action, or
                 The veterans' organizations abandon the use of the  
               facility.

          In 2009, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors  
          approved a $45.3 million renovation of the Bob Hope  
          Patriotic Hall, which was built in 1925.   According to the  
          Los Angeles Times, the renovation included replacement of  




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          the building's mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and  
          ventilation systems.  Tenants were moved out of the  
          building into temporary quarters until the renovation was  
          completed.  In 2012, as the project neared completion,  
          several veterans groups, including the American Legion,  
          expressed concern that they would not be getting their  
          original office space,   creating concern that a veterans'  
          organization's right of return could be in question. 

          Veteran's advocates want to clarify what constitutes a  
          veterans organization's abandonment of a building, meeting  
          space, or other facility dedicated to its use.


                                   Proposed Law  

          Senate Bill 725 expands the types of local governments that  
          cannot revoke the dedication of a specified veterans'  
          facility to include a city, and a city and county.
          
          Senate Bill 725 clarifies that a county, city, or city and  
          county may not revoke the dedication of specified  
          facilities to a veterans' service organization, on grounds  
          of abandonment, if the organization was required to move  
          out in order for the property to undergo seismic  
          retrofitting or remodeling.

          The bill makes additional non-substantive changes,  
          including replacing the term "veterans' association" with  
          "veterans association  or veterans service organization"."

                               State Revenue Impact
           
          No estimate.


                                     Comments  

          1.  Purpose of the bill  .  Veterans' advocates are seeking  
          clarity after several veterans groups, including the  
          American Legion, expressed concern about their ability to  
          return to space dedicated to them in the Los Angeles' Bob  
          Hope Patriotic Hall.  They are concerned that other  
          veterans' service organizations ability to return could be  
          hindered in because the issue is not clear.  Senate Bill  
          725 seeks to ensure that veteran's organizations do not  





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          lose their right to return to halls and buildings dedicated  
          for their use, when temporarily displaced for repairs and  
          renovations.

          2.  Necessary  ?  Veterans' organizations concerns about  
          returning to the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall appear to be  
          resolved.   It is not clear that other similar instances  
          have occurred.  If the parties involved in the Bob Hope  
          dispute were able to come to an amendable solution under  
          current law, is SB 725 necessary?  

          3.  Charter Cities  .  The California Constitution lets  
          charter cities control their municipal affairs.  The 121  
          charter cities must follow statewide laws for issues of  
          statewide concern.  The courts, not the Legislature,  
          interpret the Constitution, and decide what constitutes a  
          municipal affair and what is considered a matter of  
          statewide concern.  Because SB 725 doesn't declare that the  
          dedication of facilities for veterans is an issue of  
          statewide concern, the bill doesn't apply to charter  
          cities.  To apply SB 725 to charter cities, the Committee  
          may wish to consider amending the bill to add findings and  
          declarations establishing that veterans' organizations  
          access to facilities dedicated for their use is a matter of  
          statewide concern.

          4.  Cross Reference  .  SB 725 references Military and  
          Veterans Code Section 1262, which gives a county the  
          authority to dedicate facilities, but doesn't reference  
          Government Code Section 37461, which gives the same  
          authority to cities.  To apply the bill's provisions to  
          both counties and cities the Committee may wish to consider  
          amending SB 725 to add a cross-reference to Government Code  
          Section 37461.



                         Support and Opposition  (5/2/13)

           Support  :  American Legion, Department of California;   
          AMVETS, Department of California; Veterans of Foreign Wars,  
          Department of California; Vietnam Veterans of America;  
          California State Council; California Association of County  
          Veterans Service Officers; California State Commanders  
          Veterans Council.






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           Opposition  : Unknown.