City Council to Consider Hiring Consultant for Post-710 Extension Scrum

Published : Monday, March 11, 2019 | 5:48 AM

Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek at a November 28, 2018 press conference announcing the signing of the final Environmental Impact Report for 710 Freeway extension which formally adopted a local street improvement alternative to the multibillion-dollar eight-lane tunnel.

Last November, at a press conference led by California State Senator Anthony Portantino which announced the 710 Freeway extension was dead, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek expressed a fear the occasion marked the end of one battle and the start of others.

“We are really getting ready for the next round of squabbling and conflict,” Tornek said at the time.

Several pieces of what Tornek may have foreseen go before Pasadena City Council Monday when the Council takes up a measure authorizing City Manager Steve Mermell to enter into a contract with consultant Point C to develop “a strategy to advance city interests in the State Route 710 alignment.”

It turns out there is some bureaucratic housekeeping to do before the 710 extension is actually truly dead, since it continues to be listed in the California freeway and expressway system.

To finally close the books on the extension will require a formal “delisting” which can be achieved through the California Transportation Commission or legislation.

Portantino has introduced a measure to achieve just that with SB 7, which contains this definitive language: “This bill would prohibit the department [Caltrans] from implementing a freeway tunnel or surface freeway or expressway for Route 710 between Route 10 and Route 210.”

The rest of the bill addresses how to handle state-owned properties in the affected corridor.

But City staff said Portantino’s measure will result in a “less than optimal” outcome for Pasadena since Caltrans “would sell off its property to the highest bidder, leaving the City of Pasadena with multiple owners and land use/zoning control but nothing more.”

The potential price of the real estate in question, staff said, is beyond what the City could afford if it wished to buy the property.

Pasadena’s best bet, the agenda said, is to develop partnerships with California and Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) for outcomes “that would knit the city back together while providing regional benefits for the transportation system and addressing statewide issues such as housing production.”

Point C, staff said, has experience with such multi-jurisdictional processes and has worked with both state and local agencies on projects in San Mateo, Los Angeles, and Santa Barbara counties.

Locally, Point C earlier played a prominent role in developing a strategy for the Gold Line, which established a separate construction authority, and a design-build model working with private interests, to deliver a finished project for final operation by MTA.

The price tag for the advisory job is $184,000.

The City Council meets in Pasadena City Hall at 100 N. Garfield Avenue. The public session starts at 6:30 p.m.