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It seemed like a good idea all those years ago as the state acquired hundreds of homes that were to be demolished to make way for the extension of the 710 Freeway between Pasadena and Alhambra.

Only problem was the expected freeway extension was never built, as residents and politicians battled over the idea for years.

So now the state has apparently given up on this specific idea, sort of.

Caltrans has begun the process of selling hundreds of houses acquired decades ago on land that was meant to be used for the infamous 710 Freeway extension, a freeway project never built.

Caltrans has sent offer letters to tenants living in houses located along the defunct surface route, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported Tuesday. Tenants living in 42 properties — mostly single-family homes — will have the option of buying the property from Caltrans after years of paying rent to the state agency.

Residents of the Caltrans homes along a narrow strip in South Pasadena, Pasadena and El Sereno in Los Angeles, will have 120 days to answer, according to the Tribune. If they say yes, they will be directed to work with an independent real estate firm contracted by Caltrans to determine whether they qualify for the affordable price sales program or a fair market value purchase, Caltrans officials told the newspaper.

To qualify for a reduced price, the resident must not own other property and have an income not more than 150 percent of the median income in Los Angeles County. Other options include a third party, such as a city housing authority, buying the home or apartments and then renting at an affordable rate to the tenant.

Caltrans began in the 1950s and 1960s buying empty lots, houses and apartments along the planned route of the 710 Freeway extension between Pasadena and Alhambra. The project was popular in Alhambra but despised in South Pasadena, where much property, some of it regarded as historic, would have had to be razed. Decades of litigation and legislation stalled the 6.2- mile project before construction could begin, leaving transportation officials as landlords for 460 structures.

The sale of homes on Prospect and Meridian avenues in South Pasadena and Waverly Drive in Pasadena, at the very least, signals the death knell for a surface route extension from Valley Boulevard in Alhambra through El Sereno, South Pasadena and Pasadena to the 210/134 junction, according to the Tribune.

—City News Service

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