When it was announced last week that Caltrans released 42 properties, including 33 in South Pasadena, along what once was considered the surface path of the 710 Freeway extension, it brought a sense of relief to many in the community.
Yet, more work needs to be done, warned some.
“It’s an exciting step forward,” said South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez. “The properties are considered to be non-historic and not within the scope of study currently underway by Caltrans, which includes several alternatives with one being the tunnel.”
Caltrans, in cooperation with Metro, is proposing to find solutions to traffic congestion in the region and is looking at proposed alternatives including bus rapid transit, light rail, or a 710 tunnel freeway from where it ends just outside the Alhambra city limits in Los Angeles heading north under El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena, ending at the 210/134 interchange. The study, in which Caltrans will disclose its findings and select on alternative, is expected to conclude next spring.
Gonzalez said he’s looking forward to putting the 33 of the 112 Caltrans properties in South Pas into the hands of those already occupying them in the city. “That’s our first priority,” he said. “It’s exciting that they are being made available, but obviously, we wish we had more for our residents. We really want to get all of the Caltrans homes into private ownership.”
Half of South Pasadena’s housing stock is occupied by those who rent. “When your landlord is Caltrans, you don’t live in the most pristine conditions,” said Gonzalez. “We want our current tenants to have the first opportunity to occupy the homes. It’s important to keep the continuity of the neighborhood intact. They are part of the fabric of the community and should be able to remain.”
Gonzalez said he is eager to see the properties fall into the hands of future homeowners. He’s also hoping Caltrans will ultimately “kill the tunnel proposal,” he said. “That’s when more than 400 homes (along the proposed 710 route) will become available, including the balance of about 70 in South Pasadena. I’m looking forward to the day when all the homes can fall into the hands of tenants who have been suffering all these years, living in poor conditions.”
Gonzalez explained that those tenants will be able to purchase the homes at market rate “as is” condition. Most the remaining homes in South Pasadena owned by Caltrans, according to the city manager, are single family along with some multi-family properties.
South Pasadena Mayor Diana Mahmud said the council is pleased the initial sale of 33 properties owned by Caltrans is finally moving forward. “They have been off our property tax rolls for decades,” she said. “Some of these properties are occupied by tenants while others are vacant. We hope the tenants, many of whom have been members of our community for decades, are able to purchase their residences. State law establishes specific priorities for the sale of the properties. The remaining properties owned by Caltrans should be released for sale following its decision on the SR 710 alternatives, hopefully next year.”
For more information concerning the sale of Caltrans properties please see http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/business/710sales/