Portantino's Comprehensive 710 Freeway Bill Signed by Governor, Killing the Extension and Framing the Corridor's Future

Final end of 710 freeway extension threat, stub development help for Pasadena, relief for tenants and nonprofits and post-freeway actions all included

Published : Sunday, October 13, 2019 | 7:52 AM

State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (speaking) at a press conference in Pasadena on Wednesday, November 28, 2018 to present the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the 710 Freeway Corridor to the public, which signaled the beginning of the end for the decades-long project. This weekend, Governor Newsom signed Portantino's SB-7 bill which legally kills the extension and sets the stage for the future of the corridor.

Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D- La Canada Flintridge) announced early Sunday morning that SB 7, the “final nail in the coffin” for plans for a 710 freeway extension in Pasadena, has been signed by Governor Newsom.

The bill is the legislative outcome culminating of over 20 years of dedication the Senator brought to fighting the 710 Freeway extension and to helping stakeholders in the 710 corridor.

The Governor, appropriately, signed SB 7 after other bills dealing with the corridor.

Under California law, the last bill signed by the Governor supersedes other legislative actions on the same specific issues in the same section of the government code. SB 7 is therefore cemented in law as the final and definitive action on the 710 freeway.

Timing of the bill-signing became a critical aspect of its legacy because in the final week of the legislative session, amendments were proposed that could dramatically interfere with the City of Pasadena’s plans to develop the left-over freeway stubs.

Senator Portantino subsequently negotiated with Caltrans language that solved the Pasadena issue, inserted these amendments into SB 7, making it the only complete and comprehensive fix for the 710 corridor on the Governor’s desk.

Not only does SB 7 remove the threat of the 710 freeway from ever being built it helps facilitate solutions and alternatives in the corridor, including Pasadena’s plans to develop the leftover stubs and legislative help for the nonprofits and low-income tenants.

“I am very grateful to the Brown and Newsom Administrations for helping to define our three-year plan to terminate the 710 freeway and for negotiating the final amendments to make it happen,” Senator Portantino said. “Generations who have been fighting this freeway can now rest in peace knowing that they made this day happen and that the 710 freeway will never be completed.”

“Many people worked collaboratively to get us to this place, giving moral support for those of us in office and providing the runway to let this 60-year-old plane land,” he said.

In addition to ending the tunnel threat, SB 7 helps the non-profit tenants in the 710 corridor purchase their properties in a fiscally prudent manner; something long sought by the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House, Arlington Gardens, Cottage Co-op Nursery and Sequoyah School. During the legislative session, multiple representatives from the non-profits traveled to Sacramento several times offering testimony in support of SB 7.

“We are over the moon that we now have the ability to purchase our properties and to keep them serving our community. Our Senator heard our needs and responded in earnest to help us. We join in the celebration now that this important bill has been signed,” commented Megan Foker of the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House.

Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek participated in the final negotiations ensuring that SB 7 had strong provisions for ending the freeway threat and that Pasadena has the flexibility in the future to negotiate for the freeway stubs not needed by the obsolete freeway plan.

“It is a new day in Pasadena now that the 710 freeway is history. SB 7 ensures that outcome and helps all of us turn our attention to solving local traffic needs, raising the funding necessary to purchase the non-profit properties, and brings some relief to tenants in Caltrans’ affordable rent program. For as long as I can remember, Senator Portantino has been dogged in his efforts to fight the 710-tunnel threat and he fulfilled his promise,” Mayor Tornek said earlier.

The 710 corridor has been a long-time divisive issue for the region. While the freeway’s formal demise has garnered the most attention, SB7 does much more. It protects non-profits, low-income tenants, and is the only bill that actually helps Pasadena develop the no longer needed freeway stubs.

“I am so grateful to the freeway fighters from South Pasadena who in 1998 took me on a tour of the 710 corridor and shared their struggle with me,” Senator Portantino said. “The Avenue 64 and El Sereno activists and leaders from Pasadena, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge and Sierra Madre broadened the coalition to create an immovable force to pull the San Gabriel Valley into a new and positive direction. In the end, many of those who supported the 710 for decades also worked collaboratively to bring us to this point in time to help solve local transportation needs.

“I am also very grateful for the timing of the Governor’s action so Pasadena can develop the freeway stubs in the city. I’m glad that Pasadena brought its significant concerns to the forefront and I was able amend SB 7 to help this great city,” concluded Senator Portantino.

The 710 Freeway extension plan hung over the region for decades. While some cities like Alhambra supported the plan, South Pasadena and Pasadena firmly resisted all versions.

Since the beginning of his political career in 1998, Senator Portantino consistently opposed the freeway’s completion. Upon his election to the State Senate, he said he would make ending the tunnel threat a top priority.

“We are extremely grateful to our Senator for putting the final nail in the 710 tunnel’s coffin. He has been by our side for two decades; he kept our group calm over these last three years, and he followed through on his promise to have a legislative solution to complement Metro’s action and the certified EIR. Now that SB 7 is signed we can all finally sigh in relief,” commented Claire Bogaard of the No 710 Action Committee.

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