State auditor to probe Caltrans-owned homes near 710 Freeway

State officials this week agreed to conduct an audit of the steep costs of maintaining homes owned by the California Department of Transportation along the Long Beach (710) Freeway corridor.

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) requested the audit after the Los Angeles Times reported that roofs installed on more than 30 homes cost taxpayers an average of $71,000, up to five times what most homeowners would pay for similar work.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Portantino said in a statement. “I asked for this audit to see if there are overcharges or even fraud in how the state is handling the hundreds of properties they control along the 710 corridor.”

The Joint Legislature Audit Committee approved the inquiry, allowing the office of Elaine Howle, the state auditor, to conduct a six-month inquiry at a cost of $213,000, according to an analysis.

The funds for the audit will come from Howle’s existing budget.

The examination will look at how much Caltrans has paid for maintenance costs, determine the amount of property taxes that could have been collected in the past five years had the homes been privately owned, and evaluate alternatives to state ownership.

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