Council: Let those in Bunker Hill-ville buy in

Blue lots are those the city recommends be offered to current residents.

Blue lots are those the city recommends be offered to current residents.

Residents of Bunker Hill, the area above Central Boulevard and below the CSUEB campus that was once slated to become a freeway, have been petitioning to be allowed to buy the houses they live in ever since the freeway plan derailed. The City Council on Tuesday agreed to support that sentiment, and will be sending such a recommendation along to Caltrans, which owns the property.

The homes would be offered at a market value to current residents only. If the person who lives there now is not interested, the home will not be offered up to others in the area. Based on interest shown by tenants, the city mapped out 17 properties they’d like to see offered up, some with additional assessments to pay for extra infrastructure such as sewer lines and roads to improve the area.

“(Residents) are tied to the neighborhood, and they’ve improved their homes when Caltrans did not,” said Steve Ronfeldt of the Public Interest Law Project. “These are responsible tenants.”

One of those tenants, Debbie Frederick, has been vocal throughout the Caltrans land disbursement process. She was at the meeting to thank the city for working with them, and to give the neighborhood a “human face.”

“Twenty-two years ago this September when I moved in, I was making $6 an hour as bookstore clerk,” she said. “Having the stability of the home environment I created there, and the nourishment of the neighborhood, I was able to move on with my life, and get a nursing degree… I now work at a local hospital, and go to a local church.”

She said she’s had “countless Christmas and Easter dinners” at her home, and added she’s not alone in her love for the neighborhood.

“The tenants have persisted in this … and we are motivated to make it the neighborhood our city envisions,” she said.

In 2009, Caltrans announced that most of the properties it purchased decades ago would be made available to current residents. The Bunker Hill and Maitland Drive lots were left in limbo, and in spring, Caltrans announced that it would be most viable to sell the land in bulk to one developer, which could better facilitate making the needed improvements in the area.

Under the recommendation made Tuesday, the remainder of the land, which as shown in the map above constitutes the majority of the area, would be made available for purchase to a master developer.

Find more information on the city’s Route 238 page.

Eric Kurhi