Pasadena's Code Enforcement Checks on Caltrans-Owned Residential Properties and Says What They Found Wasn't Good

Published : Sunday, July 21, 2019 | 7:28 PM

The former 710 extension corridor is now dotted with as many 150 abandoned and decaying properties like this Carriage House at the rear of 711 S. Pasadena Avenue, according to local attorney Chris Sutton. Images were taken in late 2018, courtesy the Law Office of Christopher Sutton

Many of the vacant residential properties that Caltrans owns along the route of the recently abandoned 710 freeway extension project in Pasadena and South Pasadena are in a state of disrepair, with abundant evidence of trespassing and illegal occupancy in some of them, a new City report said.

Pasadena’s Code Compliance Division conducted an exterior inspection this month and afterward took their findings to Caltrans representatives.

David Reyes, Director of Pasadena’s Department of Planning and Community Development, said City and Caltrans staff agreed on a plan to address the deteriorating conditions of the properties and, Reyes said, as of last week work on removing dead trees and hedges and exterior repainting of most of the properties has been substantially completed.

In addition, a contract security service is now providing a daily patrol of all vacant properties to prevent trespassing and illegal occupancy.

Reyes said the City has not received any new reports of transients occupying any of the vacant Caltrans properties recently.

During the most recent inspection on July 17, Code Compliance staff found the condition of the residential structures to be generally acceptable, although it was apparent some landscaping service needed to be done, Reyes said.

In the meeting with Code Compliance staff, Caltrans indicated there was a gap in landscaping services because Caltrans was transitioning to a new landscape contractor.

Caltrans has been renting out homes along the former 710 freeway extension corridor for decades and is now in the process of selling them to the longtime tenants who rented them, including nonprofit organizations.

The homes sat on properties that were originally destined to become part of the extension of the 710 Freeway, but the project was killed off by Caltrans and Metro last year.

Mayor Terry Tornek, a longtime critic of Caltrans’ handling of the properties, minced no words when he was asked last year about the properties.

“The Caltrans ownership of these historic homes in this 710 corridor has been an unmitigated disaster, and it’s an agency that really is not equipped to be long-term property owners and managers, and is now trying to extricate itself from a task that it had never really wanted to begin with.”

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