Pasadena begins process to heal ‘scar’ known as the ‘710 stub’ – The Whittier Daily News

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Planning efforts to repair the “scar” in the Pasadena community known as the 710 stub continued this week, with local residents calling on the City Council to consider constructing a tiny home village while ancestors of former landowners are found.
But it will be at least another decade before city officials say they can finalize how to reintegrate the 40-plus acre parcel back into the community and surrounding region.
“We’re embarking on a process that will involve an outreach process that’s anticipated to span three years in order to develop the city’s vision for the area, and several more before any development would occur,” City Manager Miguel Marquez said Monday during a City Council meeting.
“So as it concludes, it would not be unreasonable that we will not see any big tangible development in the next 10 years,” he added. “But thereafter we will see quite a bit — and I say all that just to make sure everyone understands the length of time it will take, the undertaking, the enormity of it.”
One reason for the delay is a need to study the cost and feasibility of filling the once-proposed freeway, which was built on land that was first seized through eminent domain beginning in 1964, according to acting Assistant City Manager Davis Reyes.
Cities across the San Gabriel Valley, including the likes of Pasadena, Alhambra and South Pasadena, had worked to remove the 710 Freeway northerly extension project from the state’s highways plan for years to no avail. The extension would have included tunnel, proposed by Caltrans and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in 2009, to connect the 710 to the 210.
But in June, in what was deemed a “historic” win for local control in Pasadena, a unanimous vote by the California Transportation Commission officially cemented the return of  nearly 50 acres of land at the 710’s northern terminus back to the city of Pasadena along with a payment of $5 million.
In short, with the return, came local control, and a renewed vision of what to do with the land, which still had been impacted by eminent domain.
As currently constructed, the 710 freeway’s conclusion at Valley Boulevard forces traffic onto local streets, where some drivers travel 4.5-miles to the 210 Freeway entrance, a dusty patch of gravel and dirt that the Pasadena City Council hopes to one day transform following an extensive public outreach effort.
Reyes detailed the past, present and future of Pasadena’s battle to stop the 710 during a presentation to Council on Monday.
Councilman Tyron Hampton, whose aunt was one of many Black residents in Pasadena who lost a home at the time, believes the city has an obligation to restore — not recreate a community.
“It was a single-family neighborhood. It had businesses there,” Hampton said, confessing his excitement to undertake an endeavor to restore what was lost.
“We don’t always have the opportunity to to make things right, and this is that opportunity,” Hampton said.
Reyes echoed the sentiment, but reiterated the conveyance of the property occurred very recently. So it will take time to health the wounds of the past with an ambitious project.
“We’ve talked about this scar that exists in the city — the sort of ripping of the fabric over time,” Reyes said. This is an opportunity to repair the scare.
“But before we can really get anywhere,” he said, “there’s a lot of planning that needs to be had.”
Reyes and city staff expect the process to be undertaken in a multi-phased approach that will first determine the scope of the project and the infrastructure needed. Then, Pasadena must configure the cost to finance whatever project is selected, especially if the city wishes to fill the ditch and build on top of the land.
“We think that we need to understand the facts on the ground, if you will,” Reyes said, rattling off a series of questions.“How many truck trips are we really talking about? What does the compaction look like? What’s the timing? How much is it going to cost? Is it feasible to fill in just a portion of the ditch?”
All will have to be answered in due time.
Councilman Steve Madison, echoing his deceased peer Councilman John Kennedy, asked city leaders to conduct the process in a manner that is quick but not hurried.
“I would really like to see us, you know, after 70 years of this project hanging over our heads,” Madison said, “try to aim to at least come in on the shorter end of these time estimates.”
“Life is a depreciable asset and, you know, there are many who have been deeply invested in this project,” Madison said, suggesting the possibility a special assistant city manager will be dedicated to the task. “There are towns the size of this parcel, and what we’re essentially looking at is developing from the ground up a new space.”
Wilson, echoing public comment and previous discussion in the city’s Economic Development Committee, wondered if it was feasible to construct tiny homes on the property while the city conducts its outreach process over the coming years.
“When you have 40 some acres, I’m wondering,” Wilson said, “whether we can get some benefit… on some of that property before the 10 or 15 year timeline when this thing is built,” Wilson said, challenging city staff to think about any short term uses such as tiny homes.
Mayor Victor Gordo concluded the conversation Monday stating “one thing is clear.”
“And that’s that we have to put a process in place that allows us to get it right, and that allows the visioning of this part of our city and restriction of this part of our city,” Gordo said. But that shouldn’t be limited by cost.
“I think the money part of it should come subsequent to envisioning what this part of our city should look like,” Gordo said. “And then we can talk about what it costs to make that happen.”
Because the item was scheduled as an informational report, no action was taken Monday. However, Reyes said the conversion will be continued next month when the Council is expected to  discuss the composition of a task force.
“There are multiple ideas that folks have, but I think as has been said by the mayor and the city manager – we want to hear from the community,” Reyes said. “There’s going to be a process, as is the Pasadena way.”
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