Monica Dean

The project is a connector from the southbound Interstate 5 to eastbound state Route 56. The plan could threaten as many as 30 million-dollar homes along Portofino Drive, pushing residents out through laws of eminent domain.

Thursday night, residents met with city officials. Caltrans officials said something needs to be done to ease congestion. They presented their ideas at the meeting, which could include taking over the properties using the law of eminent domain. Many residents reacted angrily.

Steven Olsher said he bought his home on Portofino Drive in 1999. He is afraid he may be told to move.

“This is the American dream: to buy a home, to build, to keep on going. And now I’m in La La Land. I have no idea where I’m going to go,” Olsher said.

Diane Bluechel said she shares Olsher’s concerns.

“I don’t even know the words to think about relocating after all this period of time,” Bluechel said.

Others living on Portofino Drive, like Barbara Gieskes, may keep their homes, but they say the project would ruin the neighborhood with noise and pollution. Gieskes is the original owner of her home.

“It was a quiet, nice neighborhood for our children to grow up in, and I feel like it’s being assaulted now,” Gieskes said.

Allan Kosup, the I-5 corridor director for Caltrans, said the agency is looking at all options.

“We’ve probably gone through 10 alternatives today, and we’re hoping there’s still some more we can look at,” Kosup said.

About half of the plans under consideration directly impact residents, he said. Homeowners forced to leave would receive market value for their property.

“It’s really difficult,” Kosup said. “They just need to be patient. We really ask for their patience to get through this study, and we’ll continue to work with them.”

Currently, planners are studying the environmental impacts of the project. Caltrans officials said they won’t decide on a specific plan until at least 2009.

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