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CA Att'y Gen'l Harris To Testify Today On "Homeowners Bill of Rights"; To Carry Her Testimony LIVE

Council voted 9-0 on May 8 to consider City support for the state legislation in Committee; F&M Bank CEO Henry Walker testified in opposition, saying foreclosure process "works very well" and to interfere with w/ contractual obligations "I almost think it's un-American".


(UPDATE 4:00 p.m., May 10, 2012) -- AG Harris and her staff testified for over ninety minutes. A second panel, including homeowners who described what happened to them in the foreclosure process, and academics who studied the economic impacts of CA's foreclosures, testified. Reps of the "5 Large Banks" that signed a national settlement are scheduled to testify on Tuesday. At today's hearing, AG Harris stated that her legislative proposals (SB 900 and AB 278) are similar to the national settlement agreed to by five major banks and are thus feasible. She said they would provide fairness in parts of CA's foreclosure process that's lacking now (ending dual track process, requiring single point of contact and providing enforceability) and are the right thing to do. Dems on the Committee, including co-chairs Sen. Noreen Evans and Ass'yman Mike Eng, plus Ass'yman Mike Feuer (W. Hwd) were supportive. Two committee Repubs, Ass'yman Don Wagner (Irvine) and Sen. Sam Blakeslee (San Luis Obispo) voiced concerns that the bills might bring unintended consequences that could result in detering some banks from making home loans and worsen CA's housing market. Further to follow on
(May 10, 2012, updated text) -- CA Attorney General Kamala Harris is scheduled to testify later today (May 10) in support of her proposed "CA Hoemowner Bill of Rights" (two component bills are SB 900 and AB 278) at a joint conference committee of the state legislature in Sacramento.

UPDATE: carried LIVE testimony by AG Harris and her staff, as well as a second panel (community and economic impacts of foreclosures) regarding the proposed legislation that AG Harris says [advisory text] is "designed to protect homeowners from unfair practices by banks and mortgage companies and to help consumers and communities cope with the state's urgent mortgage and foreclosure crisis. Homeowners who have been impacted by the mortgage crisis will also testify. Attorney General Harris is proposing the California Homeowner Bill of Rights in order to fix California's broken mortgage process and extend to all borrowers many of the same reforms negotiated for in the recent national mortgage settlement."

The issue has a Long Beach component, with the City Council voting 9-0 on May 8 to send to the Council's state legislation committee (O'Donnell, Garcia, Johnson) the issue of whether the City of Long Beach should support the legislation. [The City of LB routinely takes positions on multiple bills, including those favored or opposed by a City Council majority.] In an agendizing memo (full text click here), Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske joined by Councilmembers Rae Gabelich and Steve Neal requested the action, citing figures indicating that roughly 100-200 homeowners in each Council district are facing foreclosure actions, roughly roughly 37% of LB homes are "underwater" (worth less than the amount paid and loans carried).

The package of bills favored by Attorney General Harris would prohibit lenders from foreclosing on a property while simultaneously negotiating a loan modification, would also require a single point of contact for borrowers and implement increased law enforcement in support of homeowner rights (paid for by fees that would be charged to banks).

As previously reported by, Farmers & Merchants Bank CEO Henry Walker testified against the proposal on Tuesday (May 8), saying the home foreclosure process "works very well" and borrowers had rights when they signed notes agreeing to pay home loans back and to interfere with contractual loan obligations is wrong "in fact I almost think it's un-American."

At the Council meeting, Mr. Walker was invited to the Council podium by 3rd dist Councilman [and Congressional candidate] Gary DeLong...who said federal regulations [that he didn't specify but said he'd learned from speaking to individuals in the banking industry] that make it difficult for banks and lending institutions to take sensible measures in working with borrowers. Councilwoman Schipske responded by noting that Councilman DeLong chairs the federal legislation committee and hadn't taken up that issue....and Councilman DeLong replied to will do so.

Further to follow.

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