By Leanne Suter, October 22, 2013
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SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- A big victory for Southern California communities that have been fighting to block the extension of the 710 Freeway: South Pasadena is celebrating after Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill sealing the fate of the freeway surface extension plan.
For residents living next to one vacant home in South Pasadena, it can't happen fast enough.
"It's kind of in sad shape. There's a pool in the back that's growing mosquitoes. So it'll be nice to actually see someone in there who will take care of it rather than it just being abandoned," said South Pasadena resident Jeff Mitchell.
Gov. Brown signed Senate Bill 416 earlier this month. The measure not only expedites the sale of the homes -- almost 400 of which are occupied by tenants for which Caltrans is landlord -- it also marks a big move in the epic 710 battle.
"The bill took away the option of the surface route, which means that a 10-lane freeway is not coming through here," said state Senator Carol Liu (D-La Canada Flintridge).
That's one major option is now taken off the table, but the fight continues over a proposed tunnel to expand the freeway.
"This 710 has been a problem since the first time I was governor. So hopefully before I have to run again we'll get it solved," said Brown Tuesday of the ongoing 60-year battle.
South Pasadena neighbors say they are glad the homes in question will be returned to private ownership and the state will be getting some much-needed revenue.
"Awesome. The taxpayers need a break. This house has been off the tax roll for 40 years," said South Pasadena resident Larry McGrail.
Officials say the homes should start going up for sale next year. But first Caltrans has to set up the rules governing those sales and allowing tenants the right of first refusal. Public hearings are set for Wednesday and Thursday.