Caltrans Must Sell Million-Dollar South Pasadena Homes for Price of Car, Judge Rules

But there is a catch.

What to Know

  • Caltrans million-dollar homes bought out for failed 710 Freeway expansion project could now sell for original cheaper price.
  • Three tenants who sued for rights to buy the houses for lower price won, but large amount of homes' equity value go to state if resold.
  • Caltrans claims selling homes for current market value could save the state millions of dollars.

Homes in South Pasadena that Caltrans bought decades ago in anticipation of the now failed 710 Freeway expansion project have to sell at the original low price, a judge ruled earlier this month.

It seems as though home buyers now have the chance to purchase million dollar homes for generally the price of a car, but there is a catch.

"We won the battle, but we haven't won the war," Roberto Flores, a former renter, said.

Caltrans had originally allowed tenants to rent the homes the highway agency bought until the expansion negotiations finalized.

When the project fell through in November 2018, three tenants sued to have rights to buy the houses. Caltrans officials attempted to sell the homes at an inflated market-value price.

The agency claimed that if they did not sell the homes at a higher price, the state could potentially lose millions of dollars.

Flores said that there is no "loss to the state."

Roberto's daughter, Angela Flores, wanted to buy the home her family rented in 1992, but the current market value of the home is more than a million dollars.

The judge's ruling states the home should be available for Angela for $24,000 -- the price Caltrans paid when it first acquired it in 1968.

The price difference won't make Roberto's daughter a millionaire over night if she decided to eventually sell the home if she buys it, he said. Over $900,000 in equity would go to the state's Housing Finance Agency.

"My daughter's really only being allowed to buy a portion of this house," Flores said. "The rest of the value of this house is being assigned to another state agency."

Still, Flores said he still considers his daughter having a home in one of the nation's most expensive markets a win.

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