Kevin And Don Respond To Being Self Loathing

Looking back at their journey from the Stonewall Democratic Club to Log Cabin Republicans, they claim it was one that was actually started by the democrats. After being told that marriage as not a priority on the agenda in 1995, they became disillusioned with the DEMS. For a decade they felt like they did not belong until they met the republicans of the Log Cabin Republican Club and discovered they too shared a dream of marriage equality. This blog is now a digital time capsule of their time as Republicans and moderated by a friend and supporter.

Monday, April 24, 2006

The Los Angeles Veterans Property The Government Wants To Sell It - Really

From the Los Angeles Times
Army Seeks Buyer for L.A. Land
The scheduled online auction of 10 prime Westside acres raises concern for growth foes and uncertainty for potential bidders.
By Martha Groves
Times Staff Writer

April 24, 2006

The U.S. Army is seeking a developer to purchase 10 acres of prime Westside real estate at the southeast corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Federal Avenue, igniting new growth concerns in an area that is already experiencing a surge in development.

Now in use as the West Los Angeles U.S. Army Reserve Center, the parcel is expected to be offered through an online auction in June.

Qualified buyers would submit bids and, as part of the deal, would agree to build replacement facilities at existing government properties elsewhere in Southern California .

The parcel is a small part of several hundred acres of federal land along Wilshire between Brentwood and Westwood that has often been the subject of heated debate.

The government acreage also encompasses both the Federal Building and the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs campus, which includes the largest chunk of open space left on the Westside.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is evaluating how to redevelop the VA campus and has faced harsh criticism for suggestions that it might allow some commercial development at the site. Separately, the General Services Administration is in the environmental review stage for a new 1-million-square-foot FBI headquarters on the Federal Building site.

The future of the federal land has become something of a rallying cry on the Westside, which is seeing an explosion of new condo projects in Westwood, Century City and Beverly Hills (including on the site of the shuttered Robinsons-May department store).

Los Angeles County has zoned the 10 acres for institutional uses, which could include schools, fire and police stations, hospitals, parks and playgrounds, libraries, and government offices and services.

This could make the property of limited appeal to developers, unless they could obtain a zoning change from the county to allow residential or retail uses.

But Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky vowed to fight any zoning change, saying that local officials were "on the same page" on that issue.

"We now have three different agencies of the federal government working on three different projects, and they don't appear to be talking," Yaroslavsky said. "There appears to be no coordination and certainly no master plan.

"It's almost like the Bush administration is in a race to exploit whatever federal property there is for as much money as they can," he added.

"Are the skids greased on this thing [the 10-acre parcel]? Have they already picked somebody?"

Yaroslavsky said he planned to travel this week to Washington , D.C. , where he would urge the California congressional delegation to push the government to prepare a master plan for the entire area.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss introduced a motion calling on the council to request such a plan from federal officials and expressing opposition to the proposed FBI headquarters.

The 10-acre parcel was originally part of 300 acres conveyed in 1888 by private individuals to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The Army Reserve acquired the 10 acres in two separate transfers, in 1956 and 1976.

The property had been the subject of speculation for many weeks. Then, on April 16, the Army placed a small advertisement in The Times. The headline read: Prime U.S. Government Real Estate Offered for Exchange. Technically, the deal would be a "real property exchange."

According to the website listed in the advertisement, , the auction will run from June 12 to June 23 with a minimum bid of $1.

As for who would bid, Yaroslavsky said he was at a loss.

"If somebody's interested, for one thing they'll want to find out what can we do on it, and I don't know that they'll be able to know that," he said. "All would have to be washed out in the conditional use permit and environmental review process.

"This is the most restrictive zoning that exists in the Westside of L.A.," he added. "With that in mind, you take your chances."

Terry Laughlin, a legislative liaison officer for the Army, said any buyer would have to deal with the local zoning issues.

"It is what it is, and we're not going to do anything to influence it," Laughlin said. "That's not the Army's business."

Laura Lake, a Westwood activist and co-founder of the Federal Building Coalition, a group fighting the FBI headquarters plan, said the 10 acres should revert to the VA and be used for veterans.

"This is all originally vets' land, and slowly over time it has been transferred to other agencies," she said. "The VA should … hold on to this land because the vets need and deserve it."

Charles M. Dorman, director of the VA's Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, said the property "is far too valuable to allow it to be used for commercial development. It could be put to wonderful use for the veterans we care for."

Steering the Needy in a New Direction
Steve Lopez
Points West

April 23, 2006

Bobby Shriver, who walks fast and talks faster, is pacing the largely abandoned grounds of the Veterans Administration above Wilshire Boulevard. The Santa Monica City Council member has just led me through a cluster of mostly empty buildings toward the back of the property, where it abuts Brentwood , and something is bothering him.

"Twenty years," he says. "Twenty years! Homeless people have been sleeping on the beach and on skid row, and they're veterans."

Wanna know why they're sleeping under the stars while VA buildings that could house them sit empty?

Shriver's got the answer. It's because all you have to do, in Brentwood or anywhere else, is mention the words "homeless project" and people get nervous.

"That's seen as a loser," he says, stopping for a moment and looking back toward the buildings we've just toured. In his mind's eye, he sees a ceremony to celebrate a deal that gets veterans off the streets and brings them here to put their lives back together.

"You could make a great photo here. Antonio, Zev and maybe even Arnold," he said, referring to L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa, county Supervisor Yaroslavsky and Shriver's brother-in-law, Gov. Schwarzenegger. "The nurses over here, the doctors over there, and here's the vets — vets who've honored their country. Now you've got a winner."

Right now it's anybody's guess whether we'll ever see that photo. The fate of the buildings is up in the air, despite support from Santa Monica City Hall . The VA hasn't decided what to do with the property, if anything, and some Brentwood residents have a "there-goes-the-neighborhood" attitude.

I'm beginning to think there's only one way to get such projects off the ground, and the recent decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could help my cause. In a ruling that could have wide-reaching implications, the court said the Los Angeles Police Department can't arrest people for sleeping on the street if there aren't enough beds available at service agencies.

So let's get a good skid row outfit like the Los Angeles Catholic Worker to start busing people to different locales for the evening. True enough, about 90,000 homeless people are scattered about the county, but they tend to confine themselves to parks or out-of-the-way places.

With the 9th Circuit ruling, now is the time to move them into sidewalk encampments in places like Brentwood , particularly in areas bordering the VA. With summer just around the bend, why shouldn't these folks enjoy balmy evenings in some of the finer ZIP Codes?

Let's load up the buses, as well, for other communities that have thrown fits about taking on their share of the duty in helping those who happen to be war-ravaged, mentally ill, flat broke or otherwise adrift. I'm talking about Burbank , Sylmar, West Covina , Castaic, Santa Clarita and Hollywood .

Hollywood ?

I know. That's the last place you'd expect a problem. But L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti gave me a tour of the area around Hollywood and Gower recently, concerned about critics of a planned supportive housing project for up to 60 people.

It's hard to see how anyone could object to moving 60 people off the boulevards and into beds.

But you only have to look to the local press to find out.

"Can Hollywood Be Saved?" asked a headline in the Beachwood Voice.

Fran Reichenbach, who edits the Voice and wrote the article, worries that Hollywood is being turned into another skid row. She told me she thinks the project would be too loosely operated, with no requirements that tenants take advantage of on-site services.

When I pointed out that precise details haven't been worked out yet, Reichenbach revealed her inner NIMBY. Even if it was the ideal program by her standards, she's giving it thumbs down because she thinks Hollywood already has more than its share of social service agencies.

It's true that Hollywood has more agencies up and running than most other communities. But as a popular destination — the area draws youngsters from across the country — it also has a bigger homeless population.

There's a more important point, though. In Hollywood and beyond, there isn't enough affordable housing to get everyone off the pavement, especially those who need more help than just a roof. There's a growing consensus that supportive housing is the most cost-effective way to rehabilitate those now running up huge public tabs because of police, paramedic and hospital runs.

"We need a lot more solutions like this one," said Roberta Morris, a writer who lives less than a mile from the proposed site and likes the idea of scattering such projects rather than concentrating them in one place, as on skid row.

"There's no place in Hollywood where you can get a set of keys to your own apartment and have the support around you to actually end your homelessness," said Sarah Phelps, associate director of L.A. Voice. The Hollywood-based conglomerate of church leaders and other organizers is backing the Gower proposal.

"We recognize the problem is not going to go away, and we do no one any good if we just foist it on the next neighborhood down the road."

Back at the VA, Bobby Shriver had one more stop on our itinerary. Just a few hundred yards from the idle buildings he'd like to put to use, we ducked into a once-dilapidated barracks that has undergone a conversion.

New Directions is a temporary home to about 100 formerly homeless vets, all of whom move through detox and rehab and then brush up on job skills before going back out. The energy level was so high in the building you could feel it. The floors shone and the halls hummed with activity as men scurried to classes and did their chores.

Case manager Dale Adams, a vet who graduated from the program six years ago, told Shriver about the upcoming monthly Winners Circle banquet. It's an ongoing celebration of the many men who hit rock bottom, picked themselves up and passed through here on the way to something better.

"We think of them as winners," Adams said, "because they are."