By Lauren Gold, July 8, 2014
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
“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.