Senate OKs Bill on 710 Non-Profit Sales, Rent Increase Prohibition and Tunnel

A 'formal end' to the 710 tunnel was established by a unanimous vote in favor of the bill on Wednesday

FILE PHOTO: Bill Glazier | News | State Senator Anthony Portantino, during a November 2018 Press Conference said, “Today, we formally end the tunnel conversation and conflict. The EIR is certified and it’s a new day – with new friends – and a new direction.”

The California State Senate on Wednesday, May 22 passed Senate Bill 7, putting the “formal legislative end” to the 710 Freeway extension by prohibiting construction of a freeway tunnel between Routes 10 and 210, according to a statement from the office of bill author Anthony J. Portantino (D-25th). The bill passed on a vote of 38-0. It now moves on to the Assembly. Supporters hope it will be signed by the governor in September.

The bill also addresses the disposition of the “surplus residential and nonresidential property” in the former 710 corridor. Caltrans owns all of the properties, about a quarter of which are vacant.

The bill allows the half-dozen-or-so non-profit tenants, such as the Cottage Co-Op and the Ronald McDonald House, to purchase the property they rent in the corridor at a fair market value that is informed by their “current use,” that is, something below the straight “fair market” value.

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PHOTO: Esteban Lopez | News | South Pasadena homes controlled by Caltrans for decades now being sold back after losing another lawsuit to citizens

It also provides a five-year extension—to January 1, 2025—to the law prohibiting Caltrans from increasing the rent of residential tenants, a number of whom are low-income.

“The bill lays the foundation for the state to return surplus freeway stubs back to local cities in the freeway corridor,” the Portantino statement said. SB 7 represents “the conclusion of discussions between Sen. Portantino and the Department of Transportation in December 2016 to end the freeway threat and move the region toward a local planning solution” to address traffic issues.

Megan Foker, Co-chair of the Board of the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House, said “we are thrilled” at the Senate passage. If the agency’s properties in Pasadena were put up for sale at fair market value, they’d likely be out of reach for the agency, forcing it to move. That would be a serious problem, as the location of RMH’s three homes, all near Shriners or Huntington Hospital, are critical to its mission, she added.

The bill was supported by the City of South Pasadena, the City of Pasadena, the Cottage Co-Op, Pasadena Ronald McDonald House, LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger and the County Board of Supervisors. The only formal opposition was from the City of Alhambra.

Details of the bill and its affects can be found here.


Ben Tansey
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.