Federal judge orders veterans agency to stop Westside construction

Veterans agency ordered to stop amphitheater construction

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to stop building on its West Los Angeles campus, ruling that officials had acted "in excess of their authority" by authorizing construction of an amphitheater on the contested property.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge S. James Otero extends an appeals court order last month halting the construction.

The veterans agency had given the amphitheater a go-ahead while it appeals Otero's 2013 ruling invalidating leases on the sprawling 387-acre campus for UCLA's baseball stadium, a hotel laundry and a television studio storage space. Veterans suing over the leases are represented by the ACLU of Southern California and Public Counsel.

Advocates have long argued that the campus, the site of the largest veterans medical facility in the country, should be used to house homeless veterans.

Susan E. Shyshka, a veterans affairs administrator, filed an affidavit saying a nonprofit group called the Veteran Parks Conservancy was developing the amphitheater for alternative therapies for veterans and their families, including tai chi and yoga.

Los Angeles has the most homeless veterans in the U.S. -- 3,700, more than twice the number in New York City.

Twitter: @geholland

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