More than 50 years ago, Caltrans purchased roughly 500 homes under threat of eminent domain within the planned right-of-way for the anticipated construction of the I-710 freeway (linking Monterey Park to Pasadena). That freeway project still has not been built, yet Caltrans continues to own the properties. There have been plenty of negative news stories about the amount of money Caltrans has spent on the upkeep of those residences (see Gideon’s Trumpet), but apparently Caltrans’ property ownership may finally come to an end. Not because the I-710 freeway is actually going to be built within this planned right-of-way, but because any possible option for the freeway will not involve this area.
According to an article in the Pasadena Star News, Gov. Brown signs Sen. Carol Liu’s bill to sell Caltrans’ 710 freeway properties, the legislature has finally approved selling off these residences:
Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 416 Tuesday by State Sen. Carol Liu to expedite the sale of the majority of the more than 500 properties the agency owns in Los Angeles, Pasadena and South Pasadena. The bill compels Caltrans to sell all of the homes that it will no longer need to demolish for the proposed freeway extension.
The environmental study for the project is set to be complete in 2014, and the project team has officially nixed the surface freeway option. The five remaining options, (i) a freeway tunnel, (ii) a "no build," (iii) traffic management solutions, (iv) light rail, or (v) bus, will require little or none of the properties Caltrans purchased more than 50 years ago.
The legislature wanted to make clear that Caltrans should not be in the business of owning or managing property, and that the surface route for the 710 freeway is not going to happen. Caltrans should be able to start selling off the properties early next year, which will lead to increased property tax revenues for local agencies. The home sales also bring the possibility for local transportation project funding, as the bill provides that the profits from the property sales must go to local projects.