The recent SB 381 Implementation Committee meeting on Feb. 16 brought news of progress regarding the Caltrans properties and their potential integration back into the South Pasadena community.
Senior Management Analyst for Housing Programs Leah Demarest explained that “for next steps, after hearing community members’ input this evening, we’ll continue to develop the policy options to be discussed at an Ad Hoc meeting or City Council meeting later this month or early next month.
“Once the city receives the sales contracts from Caltrans, the city will make a decision on the unoccupied properties,” she said.
Opinions from community stakeholders waiting to hear the city’s decision of the potential purchase of the properties, plans for the properties and the integration of the properties back into the community has been a longtime debate for residents.
In the last SB 381 housing meeting on Jan. 26, Demarest gave a presentation about updates regarding the Caltrans houses. There are currently 20 unoccupied Caltrans-owned properties — 13 are non-historic properties and seven are historic.
As of the last meeting, general inspections of the 20 properties, including sewer, chimney and termite, are completed, while geotechnical engineering, lead and asbestos inspection reports are expected to be completed within the coming weeks to determine the cost of refurbishing the properties.
The inspections and cost estimates to refurbish the properties were meant to provide city officials with an idea of whether or not to purchase the properties and integrate them back into the community.
If there is a decision to purchase any or all of the unoccupied properties, potential actions taken by the city for the 13 non-historic homes are an as-is sale of the properties, which might require minimal repairs, for affordable homeownership. Another option might be for the city to sell the properties to an experienced nonprofit affordable housing developer that would be selected through a request for proposal, or RFP, bidding process.
As far as the remaining seven historic properties, SB 381 permits the city to resell those properties at fair market value with a requirement that the city uses the sale proceeds to finance the acquisition or production of three affordable units for every historic property sold, if there is a decision to purchase any or all of them.
Per the latest Caltrans community meeting, Demarest said that the city has received all of the cost estimates to repair the properties and the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation’s evaluation of the historic properties have also been completed.
“We are currently evaluating all of that financial information. As I mentioned, staff is developing potential policy options that City Council might consider in the coming weeks for the disposition and use for the Caltrans properties,” she said.