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LA Wants To Turn Caltrans Properties Into Affordable Housing

A man wearing a baseball cap with sunglasses perched on the bill of the cap and a face mask speaks into a bullhorn on a city street. Bright car headlights shine in the background.
An activist decries the actions of CHP officers and Caltrans on Sheffield Ave. and Popular Blvd. in El Sereno on November 25, 2020. Officers removed families occupying Caltrans owned properties on that day.
(Brian Feinzimer
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The city of Los Angeles has announced a plan to turn some vacant Caltrans homes in El Sereno into affordable housing, three years after the state abandoned plans to expand the 710 freeway through the neighborhood.

The city wants to buy 77 parcels once Caltrans opens bidding, potentially as early next year. Most of the properties have boarded-up homes that the city wants to rehabilitate.

Councilmember Kevin de León, who is also a candidate for mayor of Los Angeles, says there are also plans to build accessory dwelling units on many of the lots and some could become park space.

“Given the housing crisis right now throughout the state, but especially it's acute in Los Angeles, this is a really golden opportunity,” De León said. “It’s surely not the panacea to all the housing woes that we have in our region. But it is one step forward, especially with the whole saga and the drama of the 710 freeway.”

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The homes have been vacant for years. Unhoused families moved into some of them about a year ago when activists argued that no one should be homeless when homes are sitting empty. CHP officers forcibly removed those families the night before Thanksgiving last year.

A new state law enables L.A. to purchase these lots for the original price that Caltrans paid for them. The city has set aside $2.5 million for this purpose.

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