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A proposal to build housing at the site of the St. Albans veterans center in Queens, N.Y., for example, prompted U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks to introduce legislation last month banning the sale or transfer of any of part of the campus.

Rowan said the West Los Angeles case is the most egregious he’s seen of the VA’s misuse of land, since it was explicitly deeded for use by homeless veterans.

“The folks gave it up for a specific reason,” he said.

The 387-acre parcel at the center of the lawsuit, now known as the West Los Angeles Medical Center & Community Living Center campus, is a rare expanse of open green space in one of Southern California’s most densely populated areas. Scattered hospital buildings can be seen on the fenced property from the surrounding traffic-choked streets.

The property is not far from the upscale community of Brentwood and the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. The school’s baseball stadium is on the VA parcel.

The lawsuit said the property was deeded to the government by gold-miner-turned-U.S. Sen. John P. Jones and wealthy landowner Arcadia Bandini de Baker in 1888 in order to provide housing for disabled war veterans.

Carolina Winston Barrie, de Baker’s great niece, said at the press conference that she and other descendants of the land donors have told VA leaders and elected officials for years that the land was being misused, but they have been ignored.

“Over the years, our families witnessed the degradation of the land, the lack of care for the veterans … and the violation of the donors’ intent,” she said.

The suit said the land was used to permanently house veterans until the 1960s and 1970s, when the VA stopped accepting new residents and allowed buildings that had provided permanent housing to fall into disrepair or be used for other purposes.

While the property hosts veterans’ medical clinics, some 110 acres have been leased to private users, including a car rental company for vehicle storage, a hotel for laundry facilities, and an energy company for an oil well, the suit claimed.

Rosenbaum said officials have never publicized how much the VA is receiving from the land deals, and what the proceeds are used for.

“There has been no public accounting of the behind-the-closed-doors negotiations that led to these uses,” he said. “This is scandalous. This is VA-gate.”