Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California

Mary Cummins, Real Estate Appraiser, Animal Advocates, Los Angeles, California
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Sunday, November 12, 2023

Caltrans Rents Area Under 10, 5, 60, 405 Freeways in Los Angeles, California by Mary Cummins Real Estate Appraiser

fire, 10 freeway, los angeles, california, downtown,  real estate appraisal,real estate appraiser, mary cummins ,real estate,appraisal,fire,california,appraiser,los angeles,caltrans, freeway Photo: Caltrans
fire, 10 freeway, los angeles, california, downtown, 
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UPDATE 11/22/2023 As expected the freeway is not repaired. It's only braced. It will take months to repair the freeway. "Though the shored-up freeway is safe for drivers again, repairs for the damaged overpass will take months, officials said. None of the damaged columns that hold up the overpass east of Alameda Street have been repaired yet, according to Caltrans spokesperson Michael Comeaux.

“Columns damaged by the fire will need to be repaired. The repair strategy may vary between individual columns depending on the extent of damage. The repairs will include the removal of any damaged concrete, patching of the damage, and wrapping the columns with steel casings,” Comeaux said in an email."

"The fire has drawn scrutiny to the state’s open-air lease program. On Wednesday, Caltrans announced inspectors assessed 601 leased sites across the state and of 38 sites that pose a potential risk, only a few present a specific fire or safety risk."

An engineer with Caltrans who was not authorized to speak publicly said 45 columns show clear evidence of spalling, the technical term for the cracking and disintegration of concrete when it is exposed to extremely high temperatures. The heat evaporates water molecules inside the concrete, which makes the material weak and brittle.

Construction crews will have to remove the damaged concrete from each column. In many cases, the engineer said, that damage extends to the reinforcing metal known as rebar that is embedded inside the concrete and spirals around vertical lengths extending from the foundation to the freeway overhead.

Engineers have identified eight columns where the heat of the fire reached far deeper into the concrete. For those columns, crews will have to remove not only the compromised concrete but also the spiral of rebar, the engineer said.

Once the damaged concrete and steel have been removed, the columns will be rebuilt, most likely with steel jackets similar to those used in seismic retrofits of bridge columns (an earthquake review in the 1990s did not lead to jackets being placed around the columns at this location). Grout or concrete will then be injected between the jacket and column."

11/18/2023 Authorities release photo of person of interest in the alleged arson fire of the 10 freeway. Mayor Karen Bass said it was definitely not a homeless person. This looks like a homeless person to me. I'm in that immediate area all the time. I see the people down there. I was there last week and saw a homeless guy light a wood pallet on fire for no reason. They don't just do it to keep warm but because they can. People dump shit and trash on the street. Homeless light it on fire especially at night. Someone dumps an old tv that doesn't work. They will beat and crush it then light it on fire as a fun activity like a school bonfire. Once I found a dead dog that'd been put in a shopping cart, lit of fire then pushed down the street into a fence. I'm pretty sure the dog was dead before they lit it on fire or at least I hope so.There are young'ish men down there with mental illness and lots of anger. They will destroy and burn something just as an outlet, to rage against "the man" or just for fun. All those wood pallets, stacks of boxes, trash were begging to be burned. If you go down there, you will see fire marks on all the overpasses.

11/16/2023 Governor Gavin Newsom said the freeway will be open by next Tuesday November 21, 2023! The supports weren't as badly damaged as first thought. 

Per various articles "state officials filed a lawsuit against Apex saying the company owes $78,000 (or $600,000) in unpaid rent." "Apex Development Inc. has leased the land under I-10 since 2008. One condition of Apex’s contract stipulated it not allow flammable or hazardous materials to be stored there."

“Apex rented and improved the rundown yard and made substantial capital investments during the period that it had possession of the yard,” D’Attaray said. “Caltrans inspected the premises periodically, at least once a year, and CalTrans was fully aware of the sublessees and their operations. Even the State of California’s Fire Marshall inspected the premises.”

He said Apex had also repeatedly called the fire department to report fires started by homeless encampments, including along the fence line and at other yards." 

11/15/2023 Caltrans knew of an incident where portion of Interstate 85 in Atlanta collapsed after combustible material stored under the interstate caught fire. That incident closed the interstate for six weeks. They wrote a policy directive based on that incident which prohibited storage of flammable materials under bridges and required access for inspections. Engineers stated Caltrans knew about the problem but can't get under the bridges to inspect because of all the junk. In all honesty there is not much in a tightly packed warehouse that isn't combustible. These areas aren't even enclosed so you can't block off a fire like you can in a building. There should at least be smoke, fire, CO detectors, fire sprinklers and fire fighting equipment easily accessible and functioning.

11/14/2023 Governor Newsome said the freeway will open in 3-5 weeks. "Inspectors determined the section of the freeway affected would not need to be demolished and replaced, allowing workers to focus instead on repairing the existing structure, Newsom told reporters. That means reopening the freeways will take a matter of weeks, he said, rather than the months long endeavor some were initially bracing for." He later said maybe only 4/5 lanes will be open initially.

11/13/2023 Fire Department is now saying arson may be the cause. They also stated flammable hand sanitizer from Covid was being stored at the location. 

There is no real address, legal description, Assessor's Parcel Number APN I can find to use to see if there are complaints in Building and Safety . Generally people file complaints based on real address, APN or legal description there which are investigated. Maybe people can't file or view complaints on Caltrans property because it's under a state and not a city, county jurisdiction? Caltrans just said there is no property tax so there would be no APN. That would be a big problem because all building and safety, fire investigations are complaint driven by site location. There are no annual property inspections. Clearly we can't trust the California Department of Transportation to do the complaints and investigations. They should have used emergency powers to clear or safeguard the site. Sadly the entire area down there is very similar. There are many, many shoddy storage facilities under the freeway with homeless camps.

Caltrans own press release of the fire states the address is 1700 E 14th St which is blocks away. The site is in District 7.

Recent article noted one property was leased by Calabasas based Apex Development Inc which was subleasing storage without permission from state and federal authorities. The company stopped paying rent and was out of compliance with the lease.

I see 85 lawsuits involving Apex Development in Below is the eviction lawsuit which is recent by state of California. It includes the companies on the site that burned. The ONLY cause for eviction on the form is non payment of rent. It's not for violations of terms of the lease. Obviously not paying rent is a violation of terms of lease. It's not for allowing the site to be a danger to people and property. Caltrans should have filed emergency eviction for unsafe premises.

I'll post docs in a sec. I see a previous lawsuit 20STCV42245 filed by Apex against Caltrans. It was dismissed. I see another suit against Caltrans 23STCV15418 for breach of contract that's recent for interference with contract and unjust enrichment 06/2023. Apex appears to be litigious. I don't know if they have cause for the suits. I was hoping to find a lease agreement but none were filed or maybe they were filed under seal. I don't know if Apex is claiming Covid hardship for rent payments. 

Case Number:  23STCV22798


Filing Courthouse:   Stanley Mosk Courthouse
Filing Date:  09/20/2023
Case Type:  Unlawful Detainer/Commercial (not drugs or wrongful eviction) (General Jurisdiction)
Status:  Pending

Next hearing. 02/15/2024 at 08:30 AM in Department 37 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 Case Management Conference 

Many parties didn't reply and defaults were filed.


CHOI DANIEL - Attorney for Plaintiff

D'ATTARAY MAINAK - Attorney for Defendant



GLUCK STEVEN M - Attorney for Defendant

KATZ JEFFREY E. - Attorney for Defendant



MCA TRUCKING - Defendant



SERAFIN DISTRIBUTION - Defendant 1361 Lawrence


TORRES TAURINO M. - Defendant claims to live at 1361 Lawrence

Below are jpgs of main current eviction lawsuit.

Another article stated 100 columns of the freeway were damaged. Nine or ten were damaged severely. They don't know if they will have to tear down the overpass or just retrofit it. I believe some of these were previously retrofitted after the 1994 earthquake. The original freeway was built 1933-1957 or so.

ORIGINAL: November 10/11, 2023 (just after midnight) there was a huge pallet fire under the Santa Monica 10 freeway at Alameda and 14th Street which shut down the freeway and interchange. Many have asked why there were wood pallets under the freeway. People don't seem to realize that the California Department of Transporation Caltrans leases the area under the freeways in Los Angeles for warehouse purposes. 10 Freeway on Wikipedia

Based on current law, "Authorizes Caltrans to lease to public agencies or private entities the use of areas above or below state highways. Generally, leases to private entities have to be made on the basis of competitive bids and at fair market value." They can also lease them for less than fair market value if it's for the public good such as a park, homeless shelter...

Currently most of the area under the 10 in this area is warehouse property that caters to fashion industry. If you drive by you will see auto storage, shipping storage, large machinery storage, wood pallets, trash... I would assume all tenants must have adequate fire protection, insurance and abide by Building and Safety and Fire Department regulations. Any major fire under this old 10 freeway could cause a lot of damage besides disrupting traffic to the area. The 1994 earthquake caused a section between LaCienega and Venice to collapse because the supports were made pre 1971 before they were earthquake proof. Other areas needed repairs and retrofitting. The original section was built around 1955 or 1957. I'm not positive. We're still talking about a 70 year old overpass. When I was there day after fire a block away I saw what appeared to be retrofitting and reinforcement of another overpass few blocks away. 

We shall see if Caltrans changes their lease agreement terms after this fire. They should be able to take emergency action against any lessee, sub-lessee who violates the law due to the potential hazards to humans, property and the transportation system.

If you look at these storage sites under the freeway, not all are enclosed with walls. Perhaps the ones not enclosed with solid walls are not considered structures legally so they don't have to abide by Building and Safety regulations? Many just enclose the properties with chain link fencing with barbed wire on top. Perhaps there are not regulations for such enclosures? Clearly there should be. At the very least they need smoke, fire detectors that would not be set off with smoke, exhaust from autos. 

The address of the burned properties appear to be subleases located at 4205 E 14th St, Los Angeles, CA 90021 near Lawrence St and 14th St. Also 1349, 1361 Lawrence. Legal tract is 23269. Close APN is 5167-017-004. Thomas Guide map TG634G7. 5166-004-****. Tract H. N. ELLIOTT'S NINTH STREET TRACT.  It's council district 14 Kevin DeLeon. Zone is PF-1XL. Sign says "we buy pallets" and "Serafin's Distribution." They tried to get a permit to build a building for a scrap yard in 2014 and were denied. Previous building permit was 1925. Maybe it was built in the 30'sand renamed in the 50's. Below is Google satellite image of site, parcel maps and street view. For these two sites to burn makes me think it was a fire accidentally started by homeless people. It's been getting colder at night in the 50's. Google street images shows lots of homeless, cars, car tires stacked, wood pallets.All these things are highly flammable and difficult to extinguish especially under the enclosed freeway.

Here is the Google map of the burned site. Look at street and satellite view for the area. Lots of places full of pallets, trash, cars and homeless people. Years ago when I went to a motorcycle show that was in an industrial site they made me remove all gas from my motorcycle and tape the gas cap shut or else they wouldn't let my motorcycle in the show. It was because of Fire Department and insurance purposes. I'm sure all those cars had gas and oil in them besides batteries, tires which burn for long periods of time.

Because Caltrans is government they pay no property taxes so there is no assessor's parcel map I can yet find for the site. This is all I see. If you hover over it, it says "no information available." I'm trying to get an address to see if there were complaints about fire dangers or other Building and Safety violations. If there is no address, you can't really file a complaint. There must be something. I'll post when I find it.

Here are photos from which shows interior. Their site states they have boxes, paper products, labels, janitorial supplies...

Here is one such current advertisement for warehouse rental under the 10 freeway blocks from the fire, see photo below. This property is for sale with a ten year renewable land lease from Caltrans. 

"Naomi Freeway Distribution1600-1650 S Naomi Ave 39,372 SF Industrial Building Los Angeles, CA$3,890,000 ($99/SF) Warehouses  California  Los Angeles  1600-1650 S Naomi Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021 Owner User - Investor Opportunity Located Minutes From Downtown, Arts District & Vernon Divisible into 4 Units, Power 1,200 Amp 240 V Service - Ground Level Doors Cal Trans Ground Lease Expires: 5/11/2031 - 10 Yr Option Concrete Block Construction. Owner Use - Investment Property - 5 Warehouse/Distribution Units - Land is Leased From Cal-trans - Newer Concrete Block Construction - Retail - Wholesale Possible - Garment - Cannabis Uses. 20,000 SF Can Be Occupied at Closing. Heart of Downtown Los Angeles Industrial Area Santa Monica Freeway (10) At Central Avenue Exit" POSS INT LOCATED AT 1650 NAOMI AV LOS ANGELES OWNED BY STATE DEPT OF TRANSP 5130 013 000

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Mary Cummins of Cummins Real Estate is a certified residential licensed appraiser in Los Angeles, California. Mary Cummins is licensed by the California Bureau of Real Estate appraisers and has over 35 years of experience.

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