Tenant Legislation to Watch in 2015

By Dean Preston

Tenants Together

Landlords and tenants in Sacramento are in a bit of a standoff these days, with each side having far more success killing the other’s bills than advancing their own agenda. This means that most logical solutions to today’s problems for tenants will not be introduced or adopted in Sacramento this year. Don’t hold your breath waiting to see a bill introducing statewide rent control this session. That said, there will be important bills tackling major tenant issues in 2015. Potential state bills include legislation to fund the renters’ rebate, ban Section 8 discrimination, reform the Ellis Act, and extend protections for tenants who are victims of domestic violence.

Big Real Estate Loses Key Anti-Tenant Democrats

By Dean Preston

Tenants Together

Many ambitious legislators in Sacramento believe that their path to victory is by selling out tenants and aligning with realtors and landlords. No doubt they get campaign money for playing this game. But several Democrats around the state have learned the hard way that supporting Big Real Estate to the detriment of working people is not a good strategy for re-election.

Assemblymember Sharon Quirk-Silva (D – Fullerton) sold out tenants by casting the deciding vote to kill Ellis Act reform. She thought this would keep Big Real Estate at bay in her effort to win reelection. She had a rude awakening and lost her seat 55-45%.

CFPB's New Rules Will Limit Abusive Mortgage Lending and Servicing

By Paulina Gonzalez and Kevin Stein

California Reinvestment Coalition

Last week, new rules created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau went into effect to stop predatory mortgage lending and to implement common-sense requirements for loan servicing companies that process mortgage payments and who are supposed to assist homeowners who are facing foreclosure.

Does Industry Have a Future in the Bay Area?

Zelda BronsteinBy Zelda Bronstein

In recent weeks a broad array of progressives has rallied opposition to Plan Bay Area, a state-mandated proposal to reduce the region's carbon emissions and still accommodate massive increases in jobs and population by encouraging dense infill development close to transit, i.e. Smart Growth. Drafted by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), Plan Bay Area claims to "be taking equity into account." However, the plan's own assessment concedes that its implementation "could result in residential or business disruption or displacement of substantial numbers of existing population and housing," and that those who cannot pay the "higher prices resulting from increased demand" for new housing and commercial space will be forced out.

Twenty-Five Ideas for Mayor Garcetti

Peter DreierBy Peter Dreier

Eric Garcetti has enormous potential to be one of L.A.'s great mayors. He is young (just 42), full of energy, experienced in politics and government, passionate about L.A., brimming with policy ideas, compassionate toward the disadvantaged and a great communicator and explainer. I saw many of these traits up-close when I co-taught a course with him at Occidental College in 2000, and have watched him blossom as he joined the City Council and served as its president.

Now he faces the daunting challenges of running America's second-biggest, and most diverse, city.

Foreclosures Drop 75% Following Passage of Homeowners Bill of Rights

By Rebecca Band

This time last year, hundreds of California families were losing their homes to foreclosure every day. 700,000 families were on the brink of foreclosure, and one-third were underwater in their mortgages, due in large part to shady lending practices that Big Banks employed to rob families of their homes.

But a lot can change in a year, and a new report released this week has found the number of foreclosures in California has dropped dramatically.

White House Makes Aggressive Opening Bid in Fiscal Slope Negotiations

By David Dayen

In the context of doing a deficit reduction deal at all, this is an extremely strong bid that Tim Geithner delivered to John Boehner today. Now we know why Boehner whined and cried all afternoon. Let's walk through it.

House Republicans said on Thursday that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, an immediate new round of stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

Clean Sweep for Tenants in Sacramento

By Dean Preston

In a highly successful legislative session for renters, the Governor signed into law every bill supported by Tenants Together this year. Starting January 1, 2013, California law will prevent unfair nonpayment evictions after ownership changes (AB 1953, Ammiano), require at least 90 day eviction notice for any tenant evicted after foreclosure (AB 2610, Skinner), prohibit landlords from imposing online only rent payment rules (SB 1055, Lieu), require landlords to notify tenants of foreclosure filings (SB 1191, Simitian), and bar landlords from requiring their tenants to declaw or devocalize their pets (SB 1229, Pavley). In a state capitol where renters' rights are so often ignored, times appear to be changing.

ACLU Sues Morgan Stanley, Targets Loan Securitizer Over Loan Originator

By David Dayen

The ACLU plans to sue Morgan Stanley on behalf of five named plaintiffs (they will seek class action status), for the investment bank's role in fueling what they view as a discriminatory subprime bubble. In doing so, the ACLU will try to pioneer a new legal strategy, by going after the securitizer of the loans instead of the now-defunct originator.

Katherine Porter's Dogged Work Helps Struggling Homeowners in California

By David Dayen

Tuesday was the first day that the servicing standards for the foreclosure fraud settlement went into effect. The standards, 304 in all, include large changes to the servicer business model, like banning robo-signing, mandating quick decision making on loan modification, providing borrowers with options to foreclosure, establishing a single point of contact and ending "dual tracking" (negotiating a loan modification with a homeowner and starting the foreclosure process on them at the same time). In a negotiated process, the big five servicers had a choice of taking 60, 90 or 180 days to implement the standards. The servicers took the full 180 days. But that ended October 3.