BILL ANALYSIS Ó 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 SB 725 -- 5/1/13-- Page 2 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 SB 725 -- 5/1/13-- Page 3 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. SB 725 -- 5/1/13-- Page 4 Opposition : Unknown.