According to a presentation made to the City Council on Monday night, city staff could return to the council in December with a recommendation to submit reports to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) for relinquishment approval of the 710 stub.
More than 50 years ago, Caltrans seized hundreds of homes in southwestern Pasadena, the city of South Pasadena and the L.A. neighborhood of El Sereno through eminent domain in what ultimately became a failed effort to connect the Long Beach 710 and Foothill 210 freeways. The state transit agency held the land for years, and over the past decade the 710 “stub,” just a few miles from Old Pasadena, served as little more than a rock quarry for Caltrans.
The city has already completed a technical feasibility assessment and has now moved into the next phase which includes a supplemental traffic analysis and the development of a relinquishment agreement between the city and Caltrans.
“The prospect of repatriating this missing section back into the core fabric of our city is exciting,” Vice Mayor Andy Wilson told Pasadena Now. “We are making good progress and I am grateful for the effective collaboration with the California Transportation Commission. Though we will still have critical hurdles to clear, we are eager to initiate a robust community visioning and engagement process, so we might achieve the full potential of this unique opportunity.”
Caltrans also demolished dozens of African-American homes in western Pasadena for the project.
“The 710 Freeway stub represents urban planning gone too far. Now is the time for the dirt to be returned to the City of Pasadena by the State so that it can bring our city together,” Councilmember John Kennedy wrote in an email “ Sure, substantive amends for the taking and destruction of diverse neighborhoods and businesses, some significantly African American, Japanese American and Caucasian American, must happen.
“When the land is returned to Pasadena, the community will have a blank canvas, so to speak, to build wonderful green space, attractive affordable housing for extremely low, very low, and low-income residents, all nestled in with market-rate so that the housing blend is splendidly natural by design integrated into the cornucopia mix.”
According to National Public Radio, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 routed some highways directly through Black and Brown communities and, like Caltrans, took homes from families via eminent domain.
President Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure plan supposedly will address racism ingrained in historical transportation and urban planning by earmarking $20 billion for a program that would “reconnect neighborhoods cut off by historic investments,” according to the Biden administration.
“The visioning of the space must be community-driven with a sense of doing what is right for those who have been wronged and at the same time strongly established in the present for adding to the desire of building one community,” Kennedy said.
Once the city gets the land back, a multidisciplinary community-driven visioning process will begin to lay out the future land use, transportation and utility infrastructure networks needed to reconnect Pasadena. That effort will include significant public outreach and input to rework the stub back into the fabric of the city. This multi-year effort is expected to begin sometime next year.
As a result of Gov. Gavin Newsom signing bills authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, and state Sen. Portantino, D-Pasadena, the CTC may now make a determination to relinquish the stub to Pasadena if Caltrans and the city enter into an agreement providing for that relinquishment.
Residents in Pasadena, South Pasadena, El Sereno and other communities battled for decades to stop the freeway extension after the homes in the path of the original overland route to connect the 710 with the 210 freeways were seized.
The idea was finally scrapped several years ago in favor of twin tunnels 4.5 miles long connecting the two freeways at the end of the 710 in Alhambra to the 210 in the north. That plan was also eventually scrapped.