Update on Caltrans-owned Properties in El Sereno's 710 Corridor

Friday, September 03, 2021

Dear Neighbor,

I'm writing to you today about the Caltrans-owned properties in El Sereno and SB 51, legislation I co-authored with Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo that was recently signed into law by Governor Newsom.

We have an opportunity to rebuild the 710 corridor of El Sereno, and to create meaningful change that will allow our community to flourish. We want to create a fair process that will allow residents of Caltrans-owned homes in El Sereno the opportunity to own their homes at an affordable price, or to continue renting under experienced, professional affordable housing management. That is what SB 51 will give residents the opportunity to do.

This new law first and foremost seeks to get Caltrans out of El Sereno. As a 30-year resident of El Sereno myself, I understand the frustration and resentment that many feel toward Caltrans and their practices over the years as managers of these properties that are your homes.

As you know, seventy years ago, under the threat of eminent domain, the State of California displaced families and altered our communities for a freeway expansion. In January 2020, the Legislature declared there would be no extension for the 710 freeway through El Sereno, and therefore Caltrans should no longer own these homes.

I introduced SB 51 to prioritize El Sereno and expedite the sales of these properties to community members. Additionally, this new law aims to bring about more long-term affordable housing in El Sereno by fixing and repairing vacant homes and improving vacant lots—some of which have been sitting empty for years.

Here's what SB 51 will do:

  1. Offer ownership to current tenants. Income qualified current tenants will have the first option to purchase their homes at an affordable price, followed by other long-term tenants whose income exceeds 150 percent of average median income.
  2. Creates more much-needed affordable rental housing. After properties are offered to current Caltrans tenants, they will then be offered to private nonprofit affordable housing managers or public housing authorities to be renovated and used for low- and moderate-income housing.
  3. Protect against tenant displacement. If a current tenant does not purchase the house, SB51 requires the current qualified tenant be offered the property as an affordable rental.

This bill was developed after hundreds of conversations and meetings with individual residents (including many of you), community leaders, housing advocates, Caltrans officials, Los Angeles City Housing officials, Los Angeles County officials and with technical assistance from the Newsom Administration over the past year.

In the coming weeks, Caltrans will be engaging in a community input process for developing regulations to guide next steps. As the details for this process are finalized, we will make sure that you have that information and are able to make your voice heard. Please be on the lookout for communications about the community input process from Caltrans as well.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if you have any further questions. My staff and I are ready to answer your questions at 213-483-9300 or by email at SD24.SL@sen.ca.gov.


Sincerely,

State Senator Maria Elena Durazo