Through the cracks journalism
The latest catch.
by Ellen Brown : ellenbrown – excerpt
n a nearly $13 billion settlement with the US Justice Department in November 2013, JPMorganChase admitted that it, along with every other large US bank, had engaged in mortgage fraud as a routine business practice, sowing the seeds of the mortgage meltdown. JPMorgan and other megabanks have now been caught in over a dozen major frauds, including LIBOR-rigging and bid-rigging; yet no prominent banker has gone to jail. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of all mortgages nationally remain underwater (meaning the balance owed exceeds the current value of the home), sapping homeowners’ budgets, the housing market and the economy. Since the banks, the courts and the federal government have failed to give adequate relief to homeowners, some cities are taking matters into their own hands.
Gayle McLaughlin, the bold mayor of Richmond, California, has gone where no woman dared go before, threatening to take underwater mortgages by eminent domain from Wall Street banks and renegotiate them on behalf of beleaguered homeowners. A member of the Green Party, which takes no corporate campaign money, she proved her mettle standing up to Chevron, which dominates the Richmond landscape. But the banks have signaled that if Richmond or another city tries the eminent domain gambit, they will rush to court seeking an injunction. Their grounds: an unconstitutional taking of private property and breach of contract…
Eminent Domain as a Negotiating Tool
Investors can afford high-powered attorneys to bring investor class actions, but underwater and defaulting homeowners usually cannot; and that is where local government comes in. Eminent domain is a way to bring banks and investors to the bargaining table.
Professor Robert Hockett of Cornell University Law School is the author of the plan to use eminent domain to take underwater loans and write them down for homeowners. He writes on NewYorkFed.org:…
The End of “Too Big to Fail”?
Richmond’s city council is only one vote short of the supermajority needed to pursue the eminent domain plan, and it is seeking partners in a Joint Powers Authority that will make the push much stronger. Grassroots efforts to pursue eminent domain are also underway in a number of other cities around the country. If Richmond pulls it off successfully, others will rush to follow… (more)
Critiquing Richmond’s eminent domain plan — Prof. Hockett’s response to Marc Joffe
citizenmarin – excerpt
Citizen Marin brings you a video describing The Future Of Marin. If we don’t act now to stop the machine, this will be our future.
Originally posted on Meter Madness:
There are now two incidents in which officials at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency have used handshake agreements with companies to either expedite a process or to avoid it altogether — as was the case with recently revealed news about commuter shuttles. The egregious backroom dealing by the SFMTA and its proxies needs to cease immediately.
Originally posted on Meter Madness:
The Sierra Club is urging San Ramon to prepare a transportation master plan to figure out how to solve our transportation problems for the coming decades–before spending hundreds of millions of dollars on projects that may not help in the short term and that may close off long-term solutions. (There is a 2009 Countywide Comprehensive Transportation Plan, but it doesn’t really do the job.)
John Coté : sfgate – excerpt
(02-24) 11:04 PST SAN FRANCSICO — San Francisco’s housing crunch has reached Sacramento.
Faced with a surge in evictions and stratospheric prices for homes and apartments, two San Francisco lawmakers are now pushing separate bills in an effort to amend the state law that property owners used to evict hundreds of households in the city over the last year, often to put the apartments up for sale.
State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is introducing a bill Monday at the request of Mayor Ed Lee that is designed to prevent speculators from buying up apartment buildings, kicking out the tenants, and flipping the units for sale.
Leno’s bill, which would apply only to San Francisco, would force buyers to own a building for at least five years before they evict tenants using the Ellis Act, a state law that allows an owner to kick out renters if he or she takes the building off the rental market… (more)
This seems like the first reasonable approach that should curb flipping houses, and could calm the rate of increasing costs.
Bill to allow moratoriums
State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, on Friday introduced a bill that would allow local jurisdictions – through the Board of Supervisors or a public vote – to enact a moratorium on Ellis Act evictions when the housing supply can’t keep pace with demand. Ammiano’s bill, AB2405, would also hide no-fault evictions from tenant records or credit checks… (more)
The problem with a moratorium is that is the way we got here in the first place. Turning development on and off rather than regulating it and allowing a slower constant pace makes it easier for communities to absorb changes.
Posted by Joshua Sabatini : sfweekly – excerpt
Supporters of a June ballot measure that could curb high-rise development along San Francisco’s waterfront alleged Monday that Supervisor Scott Wiener has potentially misused public resources in requesting city departments provide a detailed analysis of its impacts.
Jon Golinger, a campaign manager for the June 3 measure, used a public records request to obtain text messages and emails between Wiener and Gabriel Metcalf, who heads SPUR, an urban policy think tank, and Jack Bair, the San Francisco Giants senior vice president and a former deputy city attorney.
The communications include discussions about the analysis request and strategize for its approval. The ballot measure, if passed, would impact the Giants’ plans to build a development behind its ballpark, for which they would need to increase the height limits. The organization is also involved in a lawsuit arguing to strike the measure, which would require that voters approve any height-limit increases for waterfront development, from the ballot.
“It’s a pretty strong indicator public resources were used here to oppose a ballot measure,” Golinger said of the communications. Read the letter Jon Golinger sent to the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office about his allegations… (more)
Wiener – complaint on waterfront proposal “ridiculous”: On Monday, Jon Golinger, the director of the ballot measure campaign, filed a complaint with City Attorney Dennis Herrera‘s office accusing Wiener of misusing public resources for a political campaign in creating the legislation. The Board of Supervisors is set to vote on Wiener’s proposal Tuesday… Texts and e-mails that Wiener’s office turned over under a public records request show that Gabriel Metcalf, the executive director for SPUR, a smart-growth think tank, suggested to Wiener that state law allows the Board of Supervisors to request specific information from departments about the fiscal and other impacts of ballot measures.
Steven T. Jones : sfbg – excerpt
El Tecolote had a great cover story last week about the coalition that has formed to oppose a large housing development proposed for the corner of 16th and Mission streets, with 351 new homes that would tower 10 stories above the BART plaza, which is a gathering place for the poor SRO residents who live in the area.
This could become the next great battleground over the gentrification and displacement struggles that are rapidly transforming the Mission, where commercial and residential evictions have been increasing as real estate speculators trying to cash in on the hot housing market.
The article covered a recent protest by the Plaza 16 Coalition, which includes Latino, social justice, and housing rights groups, as well as parents from nearby Marshall Elementary School, which would be left in the shadows of the development project… (more)
Incumbents are stung by the the increase in evictions and displacements blamed on a surge of tech workers in this year’s elections, as the battle lines are being drawn between preservationists and developers. This year will be the turning point on a number of transportation and housing issues.
Chiu and others get stung for support from speculators and evictors
Ammiano and Leno seek to reform the Ellis Act and slow SF evictions
Kelly challenges Cohen in D10
New study: San Francisco has second highest inequality in United States
San Francisco was second place for highest inequality, but tops in terms of speed at which the income gap widened.