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Holden Bill Would Allow City to Buy Vacant Caltrans Land

Published on Wednesday, February 10, 2021 | 12:44 pm
Chris Holden

Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) on Wednesday introduced legislation which would allow housing-related entities (HREs), such as city housing departments and affordable housing developers, to purchase vacant land owned by Caltrans to make way for a defunct-freeway extension at the original purchase price for the purpose of building affordable housing.

“The state of California is in a housing crisis, yet the state owns vacant land in the 710 North Corridor that could be used to build affordable housing,” Holden said. “My bill would make it easier for the cities in the 710 North Corridor, or the HREs, to purchase these lands and build urgently needed affordable housing.”

Specifically, Assembly Bill 512 allows Caltrans to sell the vacant land to HREs at the same price that it was originally acquired by Caltrans 70 years ago if the property will be used for low- and moderate-income rentals for at least 55 years.

“With the freeway fight over, now is the time to move to transportation and housing solutions that benefit our communities and the region,” said Holden.

Caltrans had for decades pushed a plan for a 710 Freeway extension from Alhambra to Pasadena after it had seized through eminent domain empty lots and homes from people living in Pasadena, South Pasadena and El Sereno.

In 2012, after a surface option for the freeway extension was taken off the table, officials with the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and Caltrans announced they wanted to build either a six-lane highway along portions of West Pasadena or a 6.3-mile tunnel from the end of the 710 Freeway in Alhambra to Pasadena, but both of those ideas were also nixed.

Tenants living in those homes are expecting deals on the purchase of those properties, many of which require massive repairs.

Selling the vacant properties to local cities could help local jurisdictions overcome an affordable housing crisis plaguing the state.

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