Mayor Confident Of 7lO’s Demise

Photo by Kevork Kurdoghlian

Either of two bills currently in the state Legislature — one authored by Sen. Anthony Portantino, the other by Assemblyman Chris Holden — would be the final death knell for building the long-pending 710 Freeway extension through South Pasadena.

And while the bureaucracy of the process can be bewildering, Mayor Marina Khubesrian is not among the bewildered. In fact, Khubesrian told the Review this week, she is optimistic that, whatever happens, the 710 can soon be declared dead and buried, once and for all. 

“Both bills contain similar language, and if the governor has heartburn over the additional provisions in Portantino’s bill, he can sign Holden’s leaner bill, which would allow us to really say that the freeway is dead because it would be taken out of the highway code,” said Khubesrian.

Portantino and Holden are working on amending and refining text of their bills — SB-7 and AB-29 — and votes are expected by Friday, Sept. 13.

Both measures are geared toward erasing the ability of the state to construct a freeway or tunnel along the 710 North corridor by removing the path from the highway code. They both also address removing the “freeway stubs” from Alhambra Avenue in Los Angeles to California Boulevard in Pasadena.

Khubesrian told the Review said she was “really pleased” to see that AB-29 has been cosigned by Portantino. She noted that the agreement of Portantino with Holden on AB-29 shows there’s support in both the Senate and the Assembly, and would make it more likely for the governor to sign it with that agreement.

It is noted in both bills that the corridor would be removed from the highway code on January 1, 2024.

Holden’s AB-29 bill focuses strictly on removal of Route 710 from the highway code. It also addresses that freeway or tunnel alternatives considered by Metro for the 710 North Gap would “no longer deemed to be feasible alternatives for consideration in any environmental review process” for the route project.

“It would mean a reversal of the planning, the Caltrans planning of the freeway, that was codified in the late 1940s,” said Khubesrian. “That’s how long the threat of the freeway has been an issue for the town.”

Portantino’s bill SB-7 additionally addresses the sale of Caltrans houses and the land that would be freed up without it being reserved for a tunnel or freeway. Khubesrian called it a “much broader bill” in that regard. The freeway stub in Pasadena, located near Orange Grove Boulevard and the 210 freeway, would be up for other uses, including housing or parks.

“That’s a huge amount of land for Pasadena,” said Khubesrian. “Pasadena has been working on a ‘Connecting Pasadena’ plan, which has a whole vision and even designs to stitch the land back to the community to the way it was before.”

Khubesrian said the fact that the bills are moving forward is a “really positive” point for the city overall.

“The Freeway Fighters (a local anti-710 group) who are still kind of vigilant in some ways about any possibility of the freeway coming back, this would eliminate that because it’s no longer in the code,” said Khubesrian. “So they (the state) would have to go back and add it back to the code in order to move forward with it. It really does have a finality about it.”