Rent Controlled

Bill would bar Caltrans from raising rent on 710 homes   

State Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena) has introduced a bill that would freeze rents on homes owned by Caltrans in the 710 corridor.

“Current tenants have the right to purchase their homes from Caltrans,” Portantino said in a prepared statement. “I want to make sure that rising rents don’t drive them out while we are in the homestretch of resolving the 60-year issue in the SR 710 Corridor.”

Portantino introduced Senate Bill 400 after a town hall meeting which he co-hosted with Caltrans. At that event, residents living in those homes expressed concerns about Caltrans raising their rents.

More than 50 years ago, Caltrans seized more than 500 homes in Pasadena, South Pasadena and El Sereno through eminent domain to build a surface extension of the 710 Freeway. Residents living in those communities, most notably South Pasadena, fiercely opposed that idea throughout the decades.

Last year, Caltrans announced they would begin selling the homes.

Some local residents living in those homes have received no-fault eviction notices.

Critics speculated the state agency insisted on the easement due to plans to build a 6.3- mile connector tunnel between Monterey Park and Pasadena.

As a condition of buying the home, Caltrans would maintain an easement on the rights to the land underneath the home.

Two years ago, Caltrans announced intentions to build a four-lane highway along Avenue 64 which would have led to the destruction of dozens of homes in West Pasadena.

After that idea was dropped, Caltrans began pushing the tunnel. But not only is funding for the tunnel unavailable for the foreseeable future, the project never gained public acceptance.

Metro voted against that project in May after announcing it was the preferred choice but far too expensive with a price tag of between $5 billion and $12 billion.

Money will be used to repair and improve local streets in the region instead.

“For me, the fair thing to do is to freeze rents and help facilitate the sale of the properties as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Portantino.

A Little Piece of Heaven

South Pasadena Library to screen Bungalow Heaven documentary

The South Pasadena Public Library will host a free screening of the documentary “Bungalow Heaven: Preserving a Neighborhood” at 7 p.m. June 15 in the community room of the library, 1115 El Centro St., South Pasadena.

The event will also feature an introduction to the film and Q&A between filmmaker Joaquin Montalvan and John Brinkmann, the publisher of “American Bungalow” magazine.

Officially established as the Bungalow Heaven Landmark District in 1989 — the city of Pasadena’s first such designation — its mission has always been “to preserve the historic qualities of the area and to deter demolition, destruction, alteration, misuse, or neglect of architecturally significant buildings that form an important link to Pasadena’s past.”

In 2008, Bungalow Heaven was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Montalvan has made numerous documentaries, including “Visual Futurist: The Art & Life of Syd Mead,” which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at Dances With Films 2006.

In 2015, he completed the documentary “Bungalow Heaven: Preserving a Neighborhood,” which was nominated for Best Documentary at the Pasadena International Film Festival. He has lived in Pasadena’s Bungalow Heaven since 1997. 

“I had done other documentaries before when I was initially searching for the story,” Montalvan said. “For this project, I immediately knew what the story was because it’s been going on in my own backyard.”

No tickets or reservations are necessary. Refreshments will be served. DVDs will be available for purchase. n