Supporters of eminent domain gather in San Pablo

There are supporters of using eminent domain to save homes from foreclosure who believe the idea should spread beyond Richmond.
April 21, 2014 6:04:53 PM PDT
Supporters of a controversial plan to use eminent domain as way to save homeowners from foreclosure are trying to spread the idea from Richmond to neighboring cities, but realtors say they're doing more harm than good.

In San Pablo, a rally was scheduled to take place before Monday night's city council meeting.

In Richmond political support for using eminent domain to acquire underwater mortgages may be dwindling, so supporters are lobbying other cities like San Pablo to try to form a joint powers authority. However, there may not be the political will in San Pablo either.

"When the city declares eminent domain on anything, they declare it based off of whatever the fair market value is," said Melvin Willis from ACCE.

Housing advocates say it's an idea that's time has come and is one that needs to spread beyond Richmond. The idea is to use eminent domain to acquire and restructure the mortgages of those facing foreclosure.

"This has been a community effort to push cities to adopt this program and help these homeowners get into better mortgages," said Willis.

Eminent domain is the right of government to purchase private property for public use. The idea of using it to seize underwater mortgages was introduced last year in Richmond as part of a larger foreclosure prevention program. The city and a private partner would buy an underwater mortgage and then refinance the loan with a lower principal, adjusted for current home values.

The Contra Costa Association of Realtors has launched a radio campaign strongly opposed to using eminent domain to prevent foreclosures.

"I'm not going to buy into this program personally," said San Pablo Mayor Paul Morris.

In Morris told ABC7 News there currently is no proposal to use eminent domain to stop foreclosures.


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