Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
May 23rd
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Town Hall with Supervisor Mark Stone

Mark StoneThere are more than 100 foreclosure filings each month in the county. What has the Board of Supervisors done to address this, and do you have any further plans to do so?

The Board examined these two questions at length at our May 15 meeting.  Unfortunately, some hard truths emerged. Beyond the role the county has traditionally played in providing essential health and social services, and beyond our continued support of public and private efforts to provide some form of foreclosure assistance, there is little the county can do now or in the future to prevent a foreclosure from occurring—even a fraudulent one—without a fundamental change in state law. 

What our nation has witnessed since the collapse of the housing bubble is a deeply flawed and easily manipulated system that has allowed banks to foreclose on homeowners who could have been rescued by the right kind of modification, or who should not have legally been foreclosed upon at all. Moreover, one can only speculate on just how many of those foreclosures were initiated in the shadows of sloppy recordkeeping, cut corners, and the massive “robo-signing’’ of forged or un-reviewed foreclosure documents. How could the system have gone unchecked for so long and failed so miserably? A number of factors are to blame. However, chief among them for California is the fact that the laws governing foreclosure proceedings are woefully inadequate in protecting homeowners.

In a letter to the Board presented on May 15, County Counsel Dana McRae addressed California foreclosure law and what possible role the county could play in stemming the tide of foreclosures occurring in the county. What we learned is that California is one of 30 states that allow for “non-judicial” foreclosures. Homeowners can lose their homes to foreclosure with no court oversight and without any opportunity to present their case to an unbiased, impartial party. This skirting of due process is accomplished through the lender’s exercise of the “power of sale” clause contained in the mortgage or deed of trust. Any homeowner wishing to contest a foreclosure must file a lawsuit.  This is extraordinarily difficult to do without the help of an attorney, a cost most people in this financially challenging position can ill-afford.

By contrast, in a judicial state it is the lender—not the homeowner—who must file an action in court to obtain a judgment authorizing a foreclosure sale. In such an action, the homeowner has the opportunity to raise defenses to the foreclosure, such as the alleged default did not exist, the mortgage is invalid based on violations of state and federal consumer protection laws, or the servicer accepted but failed to process an application for a loan modification.
Without some judicial oversight over the foreclosure process, lender/mortgage servicer errors go unchallenged and homeowner defenses that could prevent foreclosure are not addressed.

The state has taken positive steps, most notably by introducing a suite of homeowner protection bills known as the “Homeowner Bill of Rights” that is currently being debated in Sacramento. And the recent negotiated settlement awarded to the state for the criminally negligent practices of some of our biggest financial institutions is the result of California’s dogged leadership in ensuring that these companies face real consequences. Unfortunately, neither the legislative action nor the monetary fix goes far enough to guarantee the protection to which homeowners—and all citizens of this nation—are entitled: the right to be heard.

In October of 2011, the State of Nevada, another non-judicial state, enacted a law requiring lenders seeking to foreclose on a home in that state to record a notarized affidavit verifying its authority to foreclose that includes information showing they have the legal right to exercise the power of sale. Our Board has requested information on what a local verification ordinance might look like for Santa Cruz County. This information is scheduled to be presented to the Board on June 12.  In the interim, however, it has become very clear that state law prohibits us from even taking that step. What will be before the Board on the 12th is proposed state legislation that will take homeowner protections to the next level. But in the end, verification without judicial review would still be an incomplete solution.

The State of California can and must do more to allow families to avoid foreclosure and preserve their homes and the wealth and savings embodied in those homes. If they are unable to do so, they must loosen the tight statutory reins that tie the hands of local government so that we can act to protect local residents. In other words, the state must either lead or get out of our way.

Comments (3)Add Comment
...
written by Jeri Bodemar, June 13, 2012
Thank you, Supervisor Stone, for your excellent article on foreclosures, especially your emphasis on the urgent need to change State law and the need to protect homeowners from the many fraudulent actions being allowed to continue under our current system. We absolutely need, like Nevada, to require a notarized affidavit verifying authority to foreclose and ownership of the note. Many of us join you in declaring, like your last sentence, that "the State must either lead or get out of our way".
...
written by Jeri Bodemar, June 13, 2012
I would also add that "all citizens of this nation are entitled", not just to "the right to be heard", but also to the right to be protected from institutional fraud, involving not just "errors", but downright forgery, fake documents, lies and felonious actions by mortgage servicers, while simultaneously insuring these loans 30 times over to assure their own outrageous profits.

Californians from around the State will gather in Sacramento on June 25 -26 for a Stop Foreclosures Rally, march and lobbying. See: RallyforHomes.com for more information. Come join us.
...
written by a guest, June 05, 2012
Banks knew what they were doing: Enforce Mortgage Note in the court. The law should not allow foreclosures to be conducted outside the courthouse – so-called “non-judicial” foreclosures The whole non- judicial process of foreclosure seems unconstitutional to me.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Gate Openers

Up-and-coming artists like Ryan Bingham are a great reason to show up early to the Santa Cruz American Music Festival

 

Gemini Sun, Pentecost, Shavuot—Enlightenment and Gladness

As the sun enters Gemini on Sunday, sign of speaking, communication, thinking, inter-relations, writing and understanding languages, the feast days of Pentecost & Shavuot (Catholic and Jewish festivals) occur. During Pentecost’s 50 days after Easter, tongues of fire appear above the heads of the disciples, providing them with the ability to understand all languages and all feelings hidden in the minds and hearts of humanity. It’s recorded that Pentecost began with a loud noise, which happened in an upper room (signifying the mind). The Christ (World Teacher) told his disciples (after his ascension) when encountering a man at a well carrying a water pot (signs for Age of Aquarius) to follow him to an upper room. There, the Holy Spirit (Ray 3 of Divine Intelligence) would overshadow them, expand their minds, give them courage and enable them to teach throughout the world, speaking all languages and thus able to minister to the true needs of a “seeking” humanity. Pentecost (50 days, pentagram, Ray 5, Venus, concrete and scientific knowledge, the Ray of Aquarius) sounds dramatic, impressive and scary: The loud noise, a thunderous rush of wind and then “tongues of fire” above the heads of each disciple (men and women). Fire has purpose. It purifies, disintegrates, purges, transforms and liberates (frees) us from the past. This was the Holy Spirit (Ray 3, love and wisdom) being received by the disciples, so they would teach in the world and inform humanity of the Messiah (Christ), who initiated the new age (Pisces) and gave humanity the new law (adding to the 10 Commandments of the Aries Age) to Love (Ray 2) one another. Note: Gemini is also Ray 2. Shavuot is the Jewish Festival of Gladness, the First Fruits Festival celebrating the giving of the 10 Commandments to Moses as the Aries Age was initiated. Thus, we have two developmental stages here, Jewish festival of the Old Testament. Pentecost of the New Testament. We have gladness, integrating both.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Off Her Meds

Kristin Wiig runs wild—and transcends her sketch comedy roots—as a truly strange character ‘Welcome to Me’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Flats Bistro

Pizza with an artisan twist comes to Aptos Beach

 

What’s your take on Santa Cruz locals?

Santa Cruz locals are really friendly once you know them. I think a lot of them have a hard time leaving, and I would too. Ryan Carle, Santa Cruz, Biologist

 

Soquel Vineyards

If Soquel Vineyards partners Peter and Paul Bargetto and Jon Morgan were walking down the street wearing their winning wine competition medals, you’d hear them coming from a mile away. This year was particularly rewarding for the Bargettos and Morgan—they won two Double Gold Medals and five Gold Medals at January’s San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

 

Enlightened Flavors

Squash & Blossom’s artisanal alternative-flour delights, beet kvass from Cafe Ivéta, and the Santa Cruz Baroque Festival