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Metro Announces 605 Freeway Widening Project Will Not Demolish Homes

Metro Senior Director Isidro Pánuco announced that the 605 Corridor Improvement Project will have no residential displacements as it will be kept within existing Caltrans right-of-way

3:49 PM PDT on July 19, 2023

Metro/Caltrans 605 Corridor Improvement Project image

At today's meeting of the Metro Board Planning and Programming Committee, Metro staff announced that Metro and Caltrans' 605 Freeway Corridor Improvement Project (605CIP) will include no residential displacement.

Metro and Caltrans' $5+billion, 12+mile 605CIP would widen the 605, 5, 10, 60, and 105 Freeways. In 2020, Metro announced that the 605CIP would impact over a thousand parcels, demolishing more than 300 homes and apartment buildings, mainly in Latino working class neighborhoods in Downey and Santa Fe Springs.

Today, Metro Senior Director of Countywide Planning and Development Isidro Pánuco announced that the 605 Corridor Improvement Project will include no residential displacements as it will be kept within the existing Caltrans right-of-way.

This is the first time that Metro staff have announced publicly and unequivocally that the 605CIP will not demolish homes. Earlier Metro statements were couched in noncommittal and vague language, for example a January 2023 Metro memorandum noted that "[605CIP] potential property acquisitions/ relocations... [have] been reduced significantly, or by several orders of magnitude."

Metro boardmembers Hilda Solis and Ara Najarian pressed Pánuco to confirm his no-displacements statement, which he did. Najarian said that Metro's 2020 605CIP demolitions announcement had galvanized an anti-Metro anti-freeway consortium.

Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins credited her agency's massive reversal to recent Metro Highway Program reorganizing: "These are the results you're getting today."

Metro plans to host corridor-wide 605CIP community meetings this fall/winter. After the meetings, Metro will do a full environmental review process, which will include studying several alternatives.

This is a big change at Metro, in a fairly short time frame, and a big victory for community resistance. Nevertheless, Metro and Caltrans are still planning to proceed with widening the 605, the 5, and many many more Southern California freeways during a time when the dire impacts of the global climate catastrophe are becoming increasingly hard to ignore. Any freeway expansion will increase driving, increase tailpipe emissions, worsen unhealthy L.A. air quality, and contribute to global climate disruption.

(This article is brief and may be updated with more exact wording. The meeting just concluded and Streetsblog does not yet have access to the recording until Metro posts it, likely to be tomorrow. Read SBLA's real-time Twitter coverage for some additional detail. Added 7/20: Find Metro meeting video and SBLA transcript of 605CIP discussion.)

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