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What People Are Saying About Caltrans' Homes

Vacant homes, abused resources, overpriced bids and lost tax money were just a few of the many issues discussed by area residents at neighboring South Pasadena's city council meeting last week.

Representatives from the California State Auditor/Bureau of State Audits (BSA) listened to residents and local officials speak of concerns regarding the approximately 400 Caltrans-owned properties along the 710 corridor at nearby South Pasadena's city council meeting last week. 

Vacant homes, abused resources, overpriced bids and lost tax money were just a few of the many issues discussed.

"Units are kept vacant because it means less work; it means that Caltrans locally doesn't have to argue for a maintenance budget. The rents are paid to Sacramento .. so there is always this disconnect," vented Christopher Sutton, a Pasadena lawyer who has represented Caltrans renters for decades.

While the Joint Legislative Audit Committee Assemblymember Anthony Portantino’s request for an audit, South Pas officials submitted a formal letter in May asking that the agency come out to hear testimony.

The audit will result in more accountibility, said Arturo Gonzalez, L.A. Councilmember Jose Huizar's El Sereno Field Office Director. "But most importantly, it will get the people to talk and to not fear reprisals," he insisted. 

Julianne Hines from Portantino's office, told auditors Wednesday that she's been handling case work regarding mismanagement and miscommunication of homes along the 710 corridor for almost a decade.

This coupled with Metro and Caltrans' lack of transparency regarding the entire 710 gap closure project has undermined the publics' trust, she said.

"As we speak, Metro and Caltrans are pushing through environmental documents ... a process which they promised they would not embark on until we had a fundamental understanding of the feasibility of this project," she explained to auditors.

"With such a lack of responsibility or commitment to following through on basic promises, it truly calls into question the integrity of this entire project and the process in which the environmental documents are being pushed through."

Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard referenced two homes in Pasadena that he felt had been neglected—one after fire damage and the other a result of vandalism.

"These are just two examples of problems we have encountered," he said. "We welcome those homes back into our community through private ownership."

South Pasadena residents mentioned deteriorated homes in its city as well.

The report should be completed by August 2012. And Caltrans is expected to respond publicly to it.

Patch Asks: Do you live in or near a Caltrans-owned home? Do you think the agency needs to adjust its existing policy?

For more on this hearing, check out Pasadena Sun's article HERE.

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