A controversial attempt to change standing law could allow CalTrans homes to be bought in bulk and end up in the hands of private entities as rental units
We have a plan… We can protect these houses, turn them into “forever homes” for those who need them, and ensure the character of our city is not lost in the process.
The South Pasadena Preservation Foundation (SPPF) will host an informational Zoom forum for the community on the topic of the Caltrans surplus properties left over from the former route of the State Route 710 freeway extension this Thursday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m.
The forum will feature a panel with years of experience with the freeway fight and the Caltrans properties, including former South Pasadena mayors Dr. Richard Schneider and Odom Stamps, affordable housing expert Charles Loveman and attorney Christopher Sutton. The panel will present a plan for the acquisition and disposition of the properties that has been developed by SPPF’s subcommittee on the Caltrans properties and will answer questions about the plan.
“The purpose of SPPF’s forum is simply to educate the community on the plan developed by our subcommittee so that they may be fully informed participants in the discussion about the best way to proceed with acquisition and disposition of the Caltrans properties”, said Mark Gallatin, SPPF President. “I strongly encourage the community to attend both our forum and that sponsored by the City on March 29 regarding SB 381 and to share their thoughts and questions, as community input is critical to formulating a plan that best serves the interests of South Pasadena.”
To participate in Thursday’s forum, click on the following link:
The Personal Meeting ID number is 473 992 8817 and the Passcode number is 695420.
Caltrans was legally responsible to maintain the homes — most of which are 60 to 120 years old and eligible for historic protection— in good repair and rent them to affordable-housing-qualified tenants. While some homes are rented (and those tenants are still first in line to buy those homes) a simple drive around town will reveal that many sit vacant (remember those CHP cars needed to protect them recently?), gracious structures serving no one and succumbing to neglect when they could be a family’s forever home.
In addition, while selling the homes to individual families would not only give them a shot at the American Dream, it would also generate much-needed taxes for the city. But as the current homes-owner, Caltrans — since the 1960s — has paid pennies on the dollar relative to taxes that would be levied on anyone else.
Existing Affordable Housing Law Under Attack
Some on city council want to reduce the homes’ protections and, in some cases opportunity to serve as affordable housing by changing the Roberti Act, the 1979 law that compels Caltrans to sell surplus houses and properties, restores the fabric of the homes’ neighborhoods to their pre-Caltrans-purchase character, and provides for existing Caltrans tenants to be able to buy the homes, in some cases if they qualify, at below market rates. Unoccupied homes or homes where the tenant does not want to buy the home could be sold to other homebuyers.
However, the South Pasadena City Council last week voted to take steps to change the Roberti Act to allow non-profit entities to buy the properties in bulk and rent them, treating them as investments and taking them off the market from non-corporate buyers. Not all councilmembers agreed with this and asked for time to seek the input of the community before making such a large and consequential policy change.
That’s where you come in! There is a plan that requires no additional legislation, no additional costs to the City of South Pasadena, no evictions or rent increases for current tenants, no changes to current tenants’ ability to purchase their home for reduced rates under the Roberti Law, and will increase our city’s tax base, will put the properties back under city management, with ultimate proceeds going to South Pasadena, will protect the homes’ historic integrity and status. Please join us this Thursday, March 25, at 7:00 PM for an important Zoom call to educate you on the matter so you can educate our City Council on what you believe is the right course of action.