Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed a bill to require the California Department of Transportation to begin selling the homes it owns in Pasadena, South Pasadena and Los Angeles.

Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), introduced the bill in July, with the intention of compelling Caltrans to sell any homes not needed for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Long Beach (710) Freeway extension project, and then using the proceeds to fund local transportation projects. Caltrans has been heavily criticized for poor management of the nearly 500 properties.

Local officials have pressed Caltrans to get out of the landlord business. Caltrans officials have said it would be unwise to sell the properties until transportation officials know what project they are going to build and what properties they will need.

In his veto message, the governor said Liu's bill is premature, both because Caltrans is currently evaluating its options for transferring ownership of the properties and because MTA is still conducting its environmental impact report on the 710 extension.

“The environmental process requires evaluation of all reasonable options for closing the gap,” said Brown. “A law requiring Caltrans to sell the properties purchased for building a surface freeway – before the environmental process is completed – would taint the process.”

The MTA study of the 710 extension is expected to wrap up in 2014.

-- Daniel Siegal, Times Community News

Twitter: @ValleySunDan