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Richmond Battles Banksters to Save Homeowners from Foreclosure

by Jonathan Nack
Photo by Jonathan Nack
Rally in Support of City of Richmond's plan to Save Homeowners from Foreclosure
City Hall, Richmond, CA
December 17, 2013
Richmond Battles Banksters to Save Homeowners from Foreclosure

By Jonathan Nack
December 27, 2013

OAKLAND – The City of Richmond, California voted to continue its groundbreaking effort to save resident homeowners from foreclosure on December 17, 2013. The Richmond City Council voted 4 to 2 in favor of moving forward with its plan to use its right of eminent domain to protect homeowners and to, "prioritize those neighborhoods that have been particularly hard hit by the housing crisis"

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Richmond could invoke eminent domain for underwater mortgages by uniting with another city in a Joint Powers Authority - even without getting a super-majority of the City Council to approve the controversial idea. More than half of homeowner mortgages in Richmond are said to be underwater.

Opponents of the plan seek to block its implementation by relying on the city's charter, which requires a super-majority to invoke eminent domain. The Council is currently divided, with four members supporting Mayor Gayle McLaughlin's plan and three opposing, which is short of a super-majority.

Banks and Realtors oppose the concept, saying it is unconstitutional and would drive up lending costs in the city. They've run a well-financed campaign attacking the plan, and are poised to launch a fierce court battle against it, according to The S. F. Chronicle.

The Contra Costa Times reported that the resolution adopted directs city staff to step up efforts to partner with other cities in a possible Joint Powers Authority.

"To keep my support, we need ensure we have partner" cities, Councilman Jael Myrick said. "Other cities cheerleading Richmond is fine, but let's be honest here, Richmond needs other cities to reduce the risk," he told The Contra Costa Times.

Prior to the December 17 Council meeting, approximately seventy-five supporters of Richmond's initiative rallied in from of Richmond City Hall. Later, at the City Council meeting, a majority of approximately forty speakers spoke in favor of moving forward.

For more information:

Richmond’s Neighborhood Stabilization Plan moves forward against realtor opposition

Also, courtesy of David Solnit:

Richmond pushes forward with eminent domain plan

Richmond’s controversial housing plan takes step forward

Richmond’s Eminent Domain Plan Moves Another Step Forward

Richmond council modifies eminent domain plan, but prospects still in doubt
Contra Costa Times

Northern California city takes step toward adopting eminent domain to halt foreclosures
Associated Press
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