Latest Guides

Opinion & Columnists

We Get Letters: Opportunity to Buy Back Caltrans Land Should Not Be Wasted

Published on Thursday, February 18, 2021 | 6:06 am

California Assemblyman Chris Holden has introduced legislation in the State Assembly to buy back land that was taken by Caltrans for freeway construction and use it to build affordable housing. With land costs so prohibitive, an opportunity to acquire land at a very low cost is an opportunity that should not be wasted. Since California has the largest number of homeless individuals in the nation, it is urgent that the state stop talking about solutions and actually design programs that do something about it. The Holden bill provides a positive way to rectify the affordable housing problem by taking back the land once held for freeway construction and turn it into housing and much needed green space. So let’s move quickly to take advantage of this opportunity for available land where the shortage of it has been the greatest obstacle to building. And let’s construct affordable housing that also includes more trees and green space.

Pasadena has worked with a non-profit called Heritage Partners. It has an excellent record of building affordable housing and simultaneously improving neglected parts of the community. But with this land offer, such non-profit efforts will need state and federal support to expand their ability to provide low cost housing. If the Holden bill passes, this should not be another give-away to developers who often only build a handful of affordable units while filling the remainder of the project with high-end condos or apartments. Enough of that! The state should look closely at partnering with non-profits that can truly provide affordable housing, not more high-end developments. And the state should look toward cooperating with regional non-profit agencies such as the San Gabriel Valley Council of governments to see if joint efforts among cities might enhance our ability to get such housing done.

My hope is that a multi-agency task force, headed by a non-profit, will take advantage of this opportunity to acquire one of the last large remaining parcels of land in Southern California and turn it into housing for those desperately in need of a roof over their heads.

Christle Balvin

Got something to say, email Managing Editor André Coleman, at

Get our daily Pasadena newspaper in your email box. Free.

Get all the latest Pasadena news, more than 10 fresh stories daily, 7 days a week at 7 a.m.

Make a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *