Caltrans property fire in L.A. prompts Bay Area underpass site inspections

A massive fire that shutdown Interstate 10 in Los Angeles for more than a week has prompted a new statewide review by Caltrans

Last month's fire, started on property leased by the state to a private company, is part of a telecommunications program called Airspace.

The fire prompted Caltrans to review roughly 600 similar spaces under freeways across California. More than a dozen sites in the Bay Area were flagged for re-inspection. 

Caltrans spokesperson Matt Rocco joined KTVU on The Four on Tuesday. He talked about what the transit agency is doing to mitigate the risk of what happened in Los Angeles. 

The department found 38 leases that warrant re-inspection. 13 of those are in the Bay Area. 

Rocco said some of the sites could have things like wood stacked too close to the highway column and in another instance, there was a locked trailer on the site. This wasn't necessarily wrong, but did warrant re-inspection. 

"Caltrans inspects these sites once a year. More often if needed," Rocco said. "We're not finding anything as serious as we did down in L.A." 

Caltrans is working with companies who lease these properties to bring them into compliance. 

"Many of the sites we have are…say parking structures or cell phone towers that are being used on the property," said Rocco. Some sites are inspected more than others. If something is found, they notify the tenant to give them time to make adjustments or to remedy the situation. 

Companies face eviction if they do not take corrective action. 

Rocco said Caltrans removes homeless encampments from their properties through state right of way law. "But before we do we work with social service agencies to try to identify other safe living situations." He said they conduct social outreach on behalf of the unhoused. 

The Airspace locations raise more than $30 million for the State of California. The money goes into the state highway fund according to Caltrans.