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Eminent Domain Issues Related to the 710 Freeway Extension Project?

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In May of 2015, the California Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority held a public hearing to gather feedback from the community about potential environmental concerns related to the 710 Freeway extension project. In a report released by Caltrans earlier that year, five potential alternatives were mentioned in relation to the closure of the 4.5 mile gap in the freeway (between Alhambra and Pasadena). These alternatives included bus and rail lines and a dual-bore tunnel. After the release of the report and the discussion of potential environmental concerns and alternative solutions/uses for the gap, a coalition of cities (Glendale, Pasadena, South Pasadena, and Sierra Madre) examined environmental, safety and health aspects of the suggested alternatives. Some felt that the complexity of the report would potentially leave property owners impacted by the 710 Freeway extension project unsure of their legal options and the threat of eminent domain matters.

Now, a year later, the matter is still under intense discussion. Some are now supporting suggestions to build a new neighborhood instead of completing the 710 Freeway. It seems the debate is never ending. The idea to use the gap to build a new neighborhood came from a Pasadena-based architectural firm, Stefanos Polyzoides with Moule & Polyzoides. Polyzoides suggests that Caltrans sell the land near the northern end of where the 710 Freeway is supposed to be to the city of Pasadena. The city could then redevelop the land into housing, businesses, etc. His mention of incorporating a "tree boulevard" only makes the plan sound better.

The Pasadena architect presented his plan at a West Pasadena Residents' Association meeting. It included a mixture of single family housing on the southern end of the 50-acre segment in Pasadena with more dense housing closer to the 210 Freeway. Of course, businesses would be incorporated throughout the neighborhood, as well. The design is being compared to Old Town Pasadena.

Pasadena mayor, Terry Tornek, is planning to put a repeal of Measure A on the November ballot. (Measure A is the voter-approved 2001 measure supporting the completion of the 710 Freeway). By doing so, he feels that the freeway extension project would be essentially taken out of the game and Caltrans might then decide to sell the land and make the Pasadena architect's vision of a new neighborhood in the freeway gap a reality.

Regardless of the eventual use of the land, California property owners in the surrounding area will need to consider the implications for their property. If you live in the area and have questions about eminent domain or other legal concerns, please get in touch with one of the experienced southern California real estate attorneys at The Law Office of Retz & Aldover LLP as soon as possible. We would like to help you prepare now for any potential legal problems that new development could cause.

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