By Ajay Singh, October 23, 2013
The City of South Pasadena on Tuesday recognized the successful passage of Senate Bill 416 after what Mayor Richard Schneider described as “a long, long journey.”
Authored by state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Oct. 1, the bill paves the way for the sale of 587 properties that the California Department of Transportation owns along the “710 gap” in South Pasadena, Pasadena and Los Angeles, where transportation officials are studying a 4.5-mile tunnel between the 710 and 210 freeways.
In a city news conference held at a spacious Caltrans-owned Craftsman-style house on 1110 Glendon Way, Liu thanked opponents of the 710 “for being in the fight for so long” and remaining there because it’s far from over.
“The next process is working on the rules by which the homes will be back on the market,” Liu said. “And so it’s really important that those who do occupy these homes go to the [Caltrans] meetings and workshops to find out what’s going on and to express their concerns because we don’t want rules to be written that are so prohibitive that people can’t buy these homes.”
The first of two workshops aimed at creating procedures for the sale of Caltrans properties is scheduled Wednesday, Oct. 23, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the El Sereno Senior Citizens Center, located at 4818 Klamath Place, 90032. The second workshop will be held on Thursday, Oct. 24, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Ballroom C of the Pasadena Convention Center, located at 300 East Green St. in Pasadena, 91101.
Tuesday’s news conference began at 3 p.m. in front of a house that Liu said has been vacant for 10 years because Caltrans raised the property’s rent, thereby forcing its tenants to move out.
The good news, Liu noted, is that “there will no longer be a freeway coming through—We’ve put that to rest. But there might be other alternatives—we don’t know what they are.”
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, who at the news conference along with Assemblymember Chris Holden, one of the co-authors of SB 416, said that while the bill’s passage is a happy occasion, “there’s still work that needs to be done in regard to the 60-year controversy over extending the 710.”
Caltrans’ proposal to extend the 710 by building a tunnel is unacceptable to the people of Pasadena, Bogaard said, prompting much clapping and applause from the small audience that had gathered for the conference.
“We all have to turn that project aside and I look forward to and am grateful for the continued commitment from all of South Pasadena and the new commitment from many people in the region,” Bogaard said.
Mayor Schneider thanked Liu and Holden for shepherding Senate Bill 416. South Pasadena, he said, needs to continue working with its senator and assemblymember “until the promise of this bill is realized.”
The 710 surface freeway is “dead—and we’re extremely happy,” Schneider said, prompting another round of clapping. But he cautioned that Caltrans is “extremely stubborn and intransigent” and that “it takes real nerve to ignore the spirit of the law that was signed by the governor.”
The mayor was referring to news reports that quoted Caltrans as saying it wouldn’t sell any houses along the 710 Gap before 2015 and before the department finishes its environmental impact report on the 710 extension and selects an alternative to the surface freeway route.
“That’s another reason why we have to continue working with our neighboring cities as well as our assemblymember and state senator,” Schneider said, as his four colleagues on the South Pasadena City sat on chairs to his right side. (Liu and Holden were seated to Schneider’s left.)
“It is with extreme arrogance that an entrenched bureaucracy like Caltrans can say something like that—that they will ignore the spirit of the law,” Schneider said, referring to the reported foot-dragging by Caltrans on the issue of house sales.
“Caltrans is a semi-immortal state agency that thinks elected officials are short-timers—and to a certain extent we are,” Schneider said. “But the fight goes on—whether we are here or one of our successors is here.”
Meanwhile, in Sacramento on Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown appeared before the media to talk about the 710. “This 710’s been a problem since the first time I was governor,” ABC7 Eyewitness News quoted him as saying. “So, hopefully, before I have to run again we’ll get it solved.”
Click here to view the ABC7 Eyewitness News video that includes Brown’s statement toward the end of a clip devoted largely to Tuesday’s news conference in South Pas.
Related: Caltrans to Host 2 Workshops to Set up Procedures For Sale of 710 Gap Properties