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Caltrans Misspent $22.5 Million on Homes Near 710 Freeway

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Caltrans misspent $22.5 million on homes it owns in South Pasadena, Pasadena and Los Angeles, according to a state audit.The state transportation agency bought homes between the 710 and 210 freeways when it was planning on building a connector between the two freeways. Those plans stalled after running into community opposition from South Pasadena and neighboring communities, so now the agency rents out those homes (presumably until it figures out whether the 710 to 210 project could ever be a political possibility).

But the state audit found that it's doing a terrible job of managing those properties: it's charged its tenants too little, and it's spent way too much on home repairs. Since 2008, it has spent $22.5 million and the way some of those millions of dollars were spent look awfully sketchy to the auditors.

The Pasadena Star-News has a rundown of what the audit found, and The Los Angeles Times references some of its earlier findings on misspent public funds.

The Times found roof repairs for the some of the homes cost more than $100,000 each, which is four or five times the typical rate in Pasadena. In another example, receipts showed that the state paid one subcontractor Knight Muse & Associates items that it had purchased at Home Depot and marked them up 35 percent. One of the contractor tacked on a 20 percent fee for its work, which auditors found unjustifiable.

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Caltrans officials admit they have done a bad job managing these houses. It issued a written statement to the Star-News saying its management of the 710 properties "has been poor and unacceptable."