After Underpass Fire, California to Review Land Lease Program

The state leases space under freeways to boost revenue, but their contracts are loosely enforced.

1 minute read

November 19, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

View from under tall freeway overpass in Los Angeles at intersection of I-405 and I-10.

spiritofamerica / Adobe Stock

In an Associated Press article, Julie Watson and Amy Taxin describe the scrutiny facing a California program that leases property under freeways to various private entities.

The concern comes after a massive fire under a portion of Interstate 10 near downtown Los Angeles damaged the freeway, causing it to close for at least a week, destroying the property of street vendors stored in the same area, and displaced unhoused people taking refuge in the underpass.

Governor Newsom’s office said the state will reevaluate its leasing system, which brings in revenue for transportation projects but is loosely monitored. The contract with Apex Development Inc, which leases the land under I-10, explicitly barred the storage of flammable materials, but the company did not enforce that provision with its sublessees. Now, state officials are calling for a directory of leased sites and their contract terms.

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