Caltrans Properties | LA City Council Consider Plan to Buy 77 El Sereno Properties

Properties in the former SR 710 corridor extension in El Sereno are under review for possible purchase by Los Angeles City Council.

FILE PHOTO: Kasper Tobias | SouthPasadenan.com News | A group of ‘Reclaimers’ began occupying empty CalTrans homes in March 2020, in an effort to seek shelter on the border of El Sereno and South Pasadena in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. CHP officers had been staking out some of these locations

The Los Angeles City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee on Thursday, March 10 will consider a proposal from its chief legislative analyst (CLA) to spend at least $2.5 million to purchase 77 Caltrans properties in the former SR 710 corridor extension in El Sereno. The proposal comes as Caltrans is ramping up to offer about 261 properties in the corridor.

Some $2.5 million has already been set aside for the project, though the CLA warned that sum “may not be adequate” to secure all the properties contemplated. “Our office continues to search for additional funding,” wrote CLA Sharon Tso.

Most of the properties are located along Sheffield Ave.

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Tso’s plan, assembled at the behest of Council Members Kevin de León and Nury Martinez, calls for the city to enter an agreement with the Housing Authority of LA (HACLA) and the LA Housing Department (LAHD) to purchase and develop 40 properties for mixed use affordable housing, and with the Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP), which would expand and develop new park space. HACLA would also acquire 37 other properties for distribution to nonprofit developers of affordable housing.

The program could result in the development of a total of 169 affordable units, Tso’s report states.

HACLA, LAHD and RAP would be compelled to develop the plan using the 710 Corridor/El Sereno Neighborhood Vision Project as a guide. The work would be done under SB 51, Sen. Maria Durazo’s 2021 bill which lays out the order in which the El Sereno properties would be sold, and which “favors current occupants that meet affordability requirements,” the report states.

FILE PHOTO: Kasper Tobias | SouthPasadenan.com News | A group of ‘Reclaimers’ began occupying empty CalTrans homes in March 2020, in an effort to seek shelter on the border of El Sereno and South Pasadena in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. CHP officers had been staking out some of these locations.

The city would be competing with other organizations to acquire the properties.

The staff report is ambiguous about whether all or some of the properties it is proposing for acquisition are occupied or vacant, stating in one place the 40 properties it wants HACLA to purchase are both occupied and vacant, while elsewhere stating the 77 total properties recommended for acquisition have “no current long-term tenants”–an apparent reference to the so-called “Reclaimers,” who unlawfully occupied some of the units in June 2020 and for whom HACLA and Caltrans signed a lease “to improve operations for a small portfolio of 26 properties in El Sereno” that include Reclaimer units.

The Committee will also consider a separate $360,000 appropriation to support the services Reclaimers are receiving through HACLA’s partnership with People Assisting the Homeless (PATH). The amount would cover services through July 2023.


Ben Tansey is a journalist and author. He grew up in the South Bay and is a graduate of Evergreen State College. He worked in Washington State as a reporter in a rural timber community and for many years as an editor for a Western electric energy policy publication based in Seattle. He and his wife Karin, an arts administrator from El Sereno, live in South Pasadena.

1 COMMENT

  1. The families that previously owned those homes before CalTrans should get first priority, then the families that have contracted to live there with CalTrans, then local governments. Those properties were taken through eminent domain to create a freeway. There’s never going to be a freeway nor tunnel, return the properties to the previous owners.