The California Department of Transportation began buying up houses decades ago along a potential route to extend the 710 Freeway between Alhambra and Pasadena. They now own more than 500 houses, but seem not to be very good landlords. According to the Valley Sun, "the California state auditor found Caltrans failed to collect $22.5 million in recent years by charging below-market rents, inadequately oversaw repair work and neglected the properties." And now that a surface freeway has been ruled out (and a report on the alternatives to close the gap is due later this month), Caltrans is going to have a lot of surplus houses on its hands. They've already identified 17 that they don't need, but a spokesperson says there's no timeline for selling them. That's bound to annoy state Senator Carol Liu, who's been trying to pressure Caltrans to sell off their mismanaged houses. Last year, she submitted a bill that would have forced Caltrans to sell the houses (Jerry Brown vetoed it), and now she's looking at ways to incentivize a sale: "The bill requires that Caltrans provide repairs required by lenders and government housing assistance programs. [Liu is said to be] looking at an amendment that would allow Caltrans to forgo these repairs and dock the sale price accordingly." In the meantime, tenants in 350 Caltrans-owned houses have been notified that their rents will go up 10 percent on March 1.
· Caltrans identifies homes for possible sale on controversial 710 route [Valley Sun]
· Caltrans's 710 Houses Getting Audited [Curbed LA}