A bill that would force Caltrans to freeze rents on homes that were seized to make way for the ill-fated 710 freeway extension awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

Senate Bill 400 places a two-year moratorium on rent increases for many of the Caltrans homes scheduled to be sold in three phases.

“This bill will help provide tenants assurance as well as relieve the fear that homeownership will fall out of their grasps,” said state Sen. Anthony Portantino, the bill’s author. “Tenants are so close to becoming homeowners after decades of renting and I am proud to move a measure that allows them access to one of our many American dreams.”

Tenants began receiving 60-day no-cause eviction notices shortly after they informed Caltrans they planned to buy the homes after the agency announced that 460 “surplus properties” in Pasadena, South Pasadena and El Sereno would finally be put up for sale. Tenants were to be given the first crack at buying the homes at reduced prices.

The homes were seized more than a half-century ago to make way for an extension of the 710 Freeway to the 210. In 2012, after the surface option was taken off the table, Metro and Caltrans officials announced they wanted to build either a six-lane highway along portions of West Pasadena or a 6.3-mile tunnel from the end of the 710 in Alhambra to Pasadena.

In September 2016, Caltrans announced its intention to finally sell the homes starting with 33 properties going up for sale this year. Caltrans announced the agency would retain an easement to the property underneath the homes.

The homes are being sold under three phases. Phase 1 includes the sale of 42 homes and 11 others that are not within the scope of the remaining project alternatives. In Phase 2, Caltrans will make a decision to sell some of the other properties that fall within the scope of the proposed project. Remaining properties deemed as surplus after the project is either built or formally denied will be sold as part of Phase 3.