To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Caltrans to place homes in the path of 710 Freeway up for sale


By Lauren Gold, July 8, 2014

SOUTH PASADENA>> Caltrans revealed the addresses of 53 state-owned properties in the path of the 710 Freeway that can be sold starting as early as fall.

Forty-two of the 53 lots contain homes, which range from full-sized mansions to modest ranch-style affairs. All are among more than 500 that have been off the Los Angeles, South Pasadena and Pasadena property tax rolls for decades.

They would have been demolished had a long-debated design extension of 710 Freeway from Alhambra to Pasadena gone forward.

For many who have been living in the path of the now-dead surface freeway plan, the notice came as welcome news.

“For us it’s a great opportunity,” said Gloria Contreras, who has lived in her house on Prospect Avenue in South Pasadena for three years. “Hopefully now the dream can come true of buying the house.”

For others, it’s a bit nerve-wracking. Joel Alvarez said he’s excited about the possibility of owning the home he’s lived in for almost three years but he wasn’t necessarily saving up for a down payment.

“I would love to buy but it’s happening so fast so I do have concerns,” Alvarez said. “I’ll give it my best try to buy it. We love the area and I don’t want to move. We’re excited and scared at the same time.”

Charles Purnell, 95, said he’s not sure what he’ll do. He’s too old to buy the house he’s lived in for more than 40 years, so he may have to move.

“I’d like to stay here,” Purnell said. “I don’t know how long Caltrans is going to keep me here.”
The 53 properties were selected for sale and listed online on July 3 because they fall outside the “footprint” of the five remaining options that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Caltrans are studying to complete the freeway. The options are “no build,” traffic management solutions, light rail, bus or a freeway tunnel. A draft environmental report is due to be released in February, with a final project to be selected in 2016.

Once the environmental report is released, remaining homes can slowly be sold off.

Eleven of the properties that are vacant lots can be sold right away. They will be offered to the cities of Pasadena and South Pasadena first, then opened up for auction.

South Pasadena City Manager Sergio Gonzalez said the city has reserved $750,000 in next year’s budget to buy the vacant properties to be used as parks, affordable housing or other beneficial uses for local residents.
“We certainly want t
o be able to determine or help determine what happens to these vacant properties. Some may be ideal for pocket parks or community gardens, some may not. At least we want to have some control,” Gonzalez said. “What it presents is opportunities and options for the city council.”

According to a draft set of rules Caltrans released last month for the sale of the houses, tenants who owned the house before Caltrans bought it through eminent domain will get the first shot. They will be asked to pay a fair market value.

Next in line will be current tenants who have lived in the house for more than two years and qualify as having low to moderate income. Then come tenants who have lived in the house for five years and do not earn more than 150 percent of the area median income, which is $64,800, according to the federal government.

Both of those situations would have the tenant purchase the home at an affordable rate or the “as is” fair market value, which is derived from the comparative home sales.

After that, a public or private affordable housing organization could purchase the home at a reasonable price. Then the current tenant — if they make more than 150 percent of median income or have lived in the house less than 2 years — can buy at fair market value. Last in line are former tenants at fair market value. After that, if the house is still on the market, it will go up for auction for anyone to buy.
 The draft regulations are available for public comment until July 31. Public hearings will be held at Cal State Los Angeles and the Pasadena Convention Center next week.
Caltrans spokeswoman Lauren Wonder said the regulations will be finali
zed in the fall and then the first 20 homes, which are not historic and have no community impact, can be sold.

Once an environmental impact report has been completed in 2015 for the remaining 22 houses, they can also be sold.

“We want to make sure we do this properly and legally, so we are trying to be very careful and very transparent,” Wonder said.
Pasadena realtor Ramiro Riva
s, of the John Aaroe Group, said he thinks the return of the houses to private owners will be a positive step for the neighborhoods, especially in filling houses that have been vacant for many years.
“Overall, it will actually give a
 good positive impact to the neighborhood because you can see the houses have just been completely just let go and nothing has happened to them because they are owned by Caltrans,” Rivas said. “Also, the whole question of are these homes going to get knocked down will be phased out, so it will increase buyer confidence in that neighborhood, which has been ... a little cloud that has been hovering over that neighborhood for many years.”

For more information and property list or to submit comments, visit www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/business/710sales.