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Council to Explore Use of Premium Beachfront Property for War Veterans
 

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Jorge Casuso

June 27, 2022 -- Counciilmember Oscar de la Torre hopes to usher in Independence Day with a bold plan to provide support services for homeless veterans next door to one of the country's most exclusive private social clubs.

De la Torre, along with Councilmembers Christine Parra and Phil Brock, are asking the Council on Tuesday to allocate $10,000 in discretionary funds to review a 134-year-old deed for the beachfront property just north of the Jonathan Club near the end of Montana Avenue.

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The funds would be used by the City Attorney to "provide a legal review of the deed of March 3, 1888 by Arcadia Bandini" granting the property currently operated as a parking lot by the City, according to the agenda item.

Bandini, who played a crucial role in the development of Santa Monica, granted the property "specifically and permanently for the healing and enjoyment of disabled veterans of the United States 'the residents of the home (in West LA),'" the item states.

The three Councilmembers want to "ensure that land and funds promised to support veterans actually reach the intended recipients," according to the item.

"It would be pretty awesome to see mental health services for veterans who make up about 10 percent of the homeless population or generate revenue to help that population," de la Torre said.

"I hope to have a unanimous vote from every Councilmember who hopes to participate in the Fourth of July parade," de la Torre said.

Frank Juarez, a Vietnam veteran and verterans' rights activist, said the agenda item has the support of the Vietnam Veterans of America and the American GI Forum.

"I think it's long overdue," said Juarez, who ran for City Council in 1999. "It's not supposed to be a parking lot. There's no negotiating it.

"We're bringing it forward to let the truth be known. This is going to be a can of worms they won't be able to close."

Tuesday's agenda item asks the City Attorney to "acknowledge and confirm" that a deed's language mirrors that of a separate deed granting 300 acres for disabled veterans in West LA.

The City Attorney should "confirm that in 2018 the Office of the Inspector General of the DVA (Department of Veteran Affairs), upheld a challenge by advocates for veterans citing that UCLA, Brentwood School and Maverick Energy (oil drilling) were 'void,' therefore illegal, Leases."

In addition, City staff should "assess the need to issue an RFP (Request for Proposal) to create a green, sustainable, complex for Veterans on the designated site or assess how funds generated from these properties might support much needed services for our unhoused disabled veterans."

The agenda item contends that Santa Monica has been allowed by the State to control the property "against the language of the Deed" and urges the Council to "do the legal, moral, and ethical thing."

The City, the Councilmembers wrote, should follow in the footsteps of Los Angeles County, which is expected to provide reparations to the Black descendants of the owners of a beachfront property in Manhattan Beach seized by the government in the 1920s.

"(T)his is land with the specific purpose to have a 'pavilion' and a beach-house' for the 'residents' of the "home" (WLA)," the agenda item reads.

"America's moral obligation to genuinely care for her defenders belongs here, permanently, and the beachfront property is an integral part of the vision to keep that obligation alive."


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