BY: Save our South Pasadena Neighborhoods
As you may or may not be aware, the process to sell the remaining 68 Caltrans‐owned surplus properties within the City of South Pasadena is underway. The City is presently in contract negotiations with Caltrans to acquire the first group of properties, consisting of approximately 20 unoccupied properties and one vacant lot (full property list included herewith). Although the acquisition process is moving quickly, there has been only very limited information and public outreach provided by the City. Based on recent meetings and conversations with City staff, one of the options the City is currently considering is implementing SB 381, which has potential to create significant permanent negative impacts for the neighborhoods surrounding the properties:
- The City is seriously considering contracting with, or potentially selling, the properties to one or more “Housing Related Entities” (“HRE’s”). HRE’s are public or private housing agencies from outside the community that will be granted a long‐term lease to develop affordable rental housing on the properties (45‐55 years or more, often with future acquisition rights). Once contracted, the HRE has very broad powers to re‐develop, operate, and manage the properties based on their plans. Typical HRE operations are often wildly inconsistent with a single‐family neighborhood, and can include:
- Group homes, transitional housing, or quasi‐commercial uses (including densely‐populated halfway houses, drug rehabs, healthcare uses, and other forms of temporary housing);
- HRE’s frequently add density and re‐develop well beyond the constraints of a single‐family neighborhood, often demolishing the existing homes for new multi‐unit construction and/or adding additional units on the same parcel as the existing structure;
- An HRE‐contracted scenario will result in a continued loss of City property tax revenue that would otherwise have been gained by selling these properties to community members under a conventional sales arrangement.
- Redevelopment or “densification” of single‐family or duplex home sites to add multiple housing units in the neighborhoods surrounding most of the Caltrans properties, whether managed through an HRE or directly by the City, are flatly inconsistent with a single‐family neighborhood. Most of these areas possess limited, aging infrastructure and are not designed for the additional traffic, parking, noise, and utility usage. Several of these districts have older, narrow streets with not even enough parking for owner‐occupants.
From speaking with our neighbors, we have come to realize that the vast majority of residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the Caltrans properties are unaware of what is currently happening. We believe that immediate, vocal involvement by the residents is the only way to avoid a potentially catastrophic permanent scenario for our neighborhoods.
There is a much better, time‐tested way for the City to re‐position the Caltrans properties by selling the vacant, unoccupied properties to qualified, owner‐occupant buyers, without any involvement from outside HRE’s. Additionally, the long‐term tenants of the properties should be given priority to acquire their homes, as required by the Roberti Law. We believe the best approach is for the City and Caltrans to work together to sell the properties to owner‐occupant buyers, which has been done successfully in the past.
The City has kept residents in the dark relative to very important decisions that will significantly affect the character, livability, and public safety of the neighborhoods surrounding the Caltrans properties. We encourage all residents to contact City staff and attend all future City Council meetings, including the upcoming meeting this Wednesday, September 21, 2022. We need community members to speak during the public comment portion, particularly at the beginning of the Closed Session at 5:00 p.m., as we understand that the Caltrans issue is one of the items that will be discussed by the City afterwards.
For additional information, or to learn about ways for you to help, please contact us at saveSPneighborhoods@gmail.com.
Thank you in advance for your involvement, and for your role in helping us maintain the livability and character of the South Pasadena community that we have all come to know and love.
CALTRANS PROPERTY SALES LIST:
First Group to Sell (21 Properties)
773 Bonita Drive
901 Bonita Drive
1131 Columbia Street
215 Fairview Avenue (vacant lot)
216 Fairview Avenue
302 Fairview Avenue
217 Fremont Avenue
225 Fremont Avenue
1110 Glendon Way
1037 and 1039 Grevelia Street
1010 Hope Street
535 Meridian Avenue
726 Meridian Avenue
1707 Meridian Avenue
885 Oneonta Drive
530 Orange Grove Avenue
534 Orange Grove Avenue
529 Prospect Avenue
540 Prospect Avenue
808 Valley View Road
822 Valley View Road