History, Resolution of the 710 FreewayBy Richard Myers
Brian Biery, the speaker, was introduced. After introductions, the meeting was recorded and can be found on the Pasadena Village website at this link, History of the 710 Project.
The meeting was centered on the topic of the recent return of 40 acres of property taken by the State of California, Department of Transportation in the 1960s using the eminent domain process. The purpose was to join the 710 freeway to the 134, 110 and 210 freeways to create a traffic corridor joining East Los Angeles, El Sereno, Alhambra, South Pasadena and Pasadena. The project had been controversial for many years with various alternatives being discussed, evaluated and dismissed. Finally, the idea was abandoned by the State. The City of Pasadena then entered into a series of court cases and talks until the 40 acres representing what is locally known as "the 710 stub" was returned to the city in 2022.
Framing the Discussion
In beginning the discussion and presentation, Mr. Biery asked participants to reflect on why the issue is important to the community and individuals participating. He then suggested Agreements for Dialogue which included:
* having an open mind
* notice what occurs as conversation unfolds
* be authentic
*accept none of us is perfect
* question, request, challenge
* share your experiences, enlighten others
Next, Mr. Biery discussed how freeways were used to divide communities in broad strokes. Using photographs he showed what the community looked like before families, churches, schools, and businesses were impacted.
Panelists and Hsitory
He then asked the participants to think about their role in the process before the community today and introduced 4 guests who were historians and/or affected by the 710 process. These included: Tina Williams, Dr. Gilbert Walton, Danny Parker and Jose Luis Carrera.
Mr. Biery then reviewed materials from the Federal Housing Authority going back to the 1930s recommending the use of freeways and transportation thoroughfares as a mechanism to separate races.
In 1964, the State determined it would be beneficial to connect the 710, 210, 134 and 110 freeways creating a transportation corridor. 4,000 people were displaced and 1,500 properties were destroyed as this process was begun. Questions asked for reflection included: where did the displaced go, how were they moved and what was compensation like. The area affected was primarily middle and working class families of color. This was due to "redlining". A description of the processes used can be heard on the recording of the meeting. The recording will also include the personal story of the family of Jose Luis Carrera and provides valuable insights into understanding the nature of the displaced community, schools, churches, and employment. Also on the recording are the memories of Tina Williams who addresses the human impact of not only losing a home, but, a school, a church, friends, and a neighborhood. Dr. Gilbert Walton shares similar experiences he had in Birmingham, Alabama when the I16 freeway was built, describing the outcome as fracturing and traumatizing.
Tina Williams then discussed the distrust that developed in the community as a result of the displacement. She shared that this must be addressed in order to bring trust back to communities of color.
Mr. Biery then turned to the present-day and the formation of the 710 Stub Work Group. The Group will need to ensure wise decisions are made, consider what reparations would look like, and establish the role of affected individuals in the work of the group. Ideas to be considered shared by the participants included:
* affordable housing
* community gardens
* Arroyo nature preserve
* venues for social integration
* development of a public marketplace
Jose Luis Carrera suggested affordable housing, options for the displaced to return and a memorial. Tina Williams suggested a just and equal plan that is repair based indicating it is important to hear from the displaced who lost the chance of developing generational wealth and other family impacts. Dr Walton's thoughts included talking to the displaced or their descendants, allowing the displaced to return, offering opportunities for business and manufacturing if not environmentally harmful, open green space and a museum.
Danny Parker, a historian, who grew up in Pasadena, shared the importance of the history of what happened being shared with the entire community and indicating local historians needed to be included in assisting the work group. A desired outcome would be mixed use of the land, environmentally friendly projects, and economic opportunities that would allow the displaced to benefit. He reminded the participants of the losses that came with this project, including community losses, 4 elementary schools and 4 churches.
In conclusion, Mr. Biery asked participants to consider how they could be involved, reminded everyone that this is a multi-year project of enormous importance.
The next meeting will be Friday, March 3rd at 10:00 PST.