Gov. and Legislature Ignoring Appellate Court’s Order to Return ‘Unlawfully Diverted’ Subprime Crisis Funds

By Katy Grimes : californiaglobe – excerpt

The settlement funds would have directly helped low-income families and people of color

In 2018, Gov. Jerry Brown was ordered by the state’s 3rd Appellate District Court to repay more than $331 million in funds the state illegally diverted from a national fund intended to help homeowners struggling with foreclosures from the housing crisis. Instead of complying with the court order, Democrats pushed through a bill to legitimize the theft of funds.

Governor Gavin Newsom just signed Senate Bill 113, which will allow his administration to take a year or more to set up a nonprofit trust that would invest the funds, in still-unknown ways, rather than distributing the money to wronged homeowners. The administration said it would only spend investment profits, not the actual settlement funds.

The settlement funds would have directly helped many California homeowners, including low-income families and people of color…

Stealing money intended to help people damaged by what Democrats called “predatory lenders” and “Wall Street” in order to bail out the gross abuses by the Governor’s and Legislature’s wasteful spending is probably among the lowest actions.

Notably, the Legislature just passed AB 539, a bill to bar “predatory lenders,” like payday small loan companies, from imposing excessively high-interest rates on people who borrow $2,500 up to $10,000, while also passing legislation to allow cities to open public government banks. Perhaps this settlement is seed money for the government banks… (more)

No wonder his popularity is slipping. Too much money and too much power are a dangerous combination that seems to go to everyone’s head. In this case, the governor wants to double down on the crime the state was accused of to continue the illegal action that brought on the lawsuit. Are the funds unavailable because they are tied up in long-term investments? The plot thickens. He is giving non-profits a bad name by using them to funnel the funds. But, if the goal is to rid the state of unwanted single-family homeowners, the delay tactic makes perfect sense.

What Happened When I Bought a House With Solar Panels

By Esmé E. Deprez : bloomberg – excerpt

Third-party ownership and decades-long contracts can create real headaches.

On a rare rainy day early last year, my husband, Alex, and I toured what, with any luck, would become the most exciting and daunting purchase of our lives: a cream-colored bungalow-style fixer-upper, built in 1924, a few blocks from our rental in Santa Barbara, Calif. What the house lacked in curb appeal, it more than made up for in charm and utility: the original built-in cupboards in the dining room, the way the light streamed in from copious windows, the fenced backyard for our wirehaired mutt. Moldy linoleum in the bathroom would be easy to rip up. A shower head inexplicably hanging above the kitchen sink would be easy to rip out. The location was a big draw, as was, at least initially, the fact that the red pitched roof of the two-car garage was outfitted with 17 solar panels. We’d get to do our bit for the planet…

I’d soon learn that the system was tied to the title of the house. It appeared that if we bought Jug’s place, we’d have to assume his lease arrangement with Sunrun. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this as a buyer, but it definitely piqued my curiosity as a journalist. I set out to examine the value proposition carefully…

There’s more to the story, including the fact that Jug’s solar panels never worked at full efficiency. This was because of what Sunrun characterized as “severe shading” caused by the next-door neighbor’s tree. That’s right: Sunrun installed the system beneath a big old tree. This makes me again question the judgment of Jug’s salesperson. Sunrun has a production guarantee—if the system underperforms, you get a credit. In Jug’s case, $203 was credited to his account on July 17, 2017, half a year after his death… (more)

We need to push the state legislators to fix the”severe shading” problem caused by both trees and higher denser buildings going up nearby solar panel powered roof systems. Now that they are required on some homes, they should be protected from shadows. Perhaps this is a case for the courts to decide?

California lawmaker Scott Wiener says he ‘Took to Heart’ Housing Bill Criticism

By Jill Cowan : nytimes – excerpt

I recently wrote about how California can feel like home to almost anyone. But even if it feels like home, it’s increasingly tough to afford living in the state.

Scott Wiener, a state senator from San Francisco, says he’s trying to fix that. He’s the legislator behind a divisive housing bill, S.B. 827, which died last year. The idea? Require cities to allow the construction of eight-story apartment buildings near transit stops, even if local governments object.

This year, he resurrected the proposal, now called S.B. 50, and with some changes. I asked Mr. Wiener about how it addresses some of the concerns with the earlier bill. (The interview has been edited and condensed.)

Jill Cowan: How does the new version address concerns about displacement?

(more)

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New law could break the stalemate over housing on the site of a near-vacant Cupertino mall

By Liam Dillon : latimes – excerpt

For more than a decade, developers have tried to build new housing on the site of an all-but-empty mall in Cupertino, a city in the heart of Silicon Valley and home to Apple headquarters. A well-organized group of neighbors, upset about traffic, building heights and the potential loss of the community’s suburban lifestyle, turned away every plan.

Now, for the first time, the stalemate might be broken — thanks to a decision made in the state Capitol… (more)

San Francisco’s 1986 cap on office space now a hurdle — but fix may be in works

D. K. Dineen : sfchronicle – excerpt

San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell and Supervisor Aaron Peskin think they have found a solution to a problem posed by Proposition M, a 1986 cap on development that threatens to block millions of square feet of new commercial space South of Market.

The fix, which has the potential to usher in high-profile projects like the new San Francisco Flower Mart at Sixth and Brannan streets, has its roots in a short-lived real estate trend that swept the city in the mid-2000s: a rash of conversions that turned older office buildings into residential condominiums.

Peskin and Farrell are co-sponsoring an ordinance that would allow office space converted to residential use to be reallocated as commercial space available to be developed — about 1.3 million square feet. The law, which will be introduced at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, would need their approval but would not have to go before the voters… (more)

Meet the Lawyer Suing Equifax and Apple

By Peter Lawrence Kane : sfweekly – excerpt

Scott Cole is an Alameda attorney on a crusade against corporate malfeasance. Why take on just one giant and not two?

In September, the credit bureau Equifax revealed that a data breach exposed 143 million people to potential credit fraud — and that the company had known about it for weeks before taking action. In that time, several executives unloaded their company stock, and when Equifax finally tried making amends, it did so by feigning contrition and trying to trick people into forfeiting their right to a class-action lawsuit. It was, and is, maddening.

Enter Scott Cole, a class-action attorney who specializes in employment- and environmental-law cases and whose firm, Scott Cole & Associates is located in Alameda. Cole is well-known among his peers for his work in the 1994 case in which Crockett, Calif., sued Unocal over weeks of toxic emissions that left the East Bay town a well-known cancer cluster. (The company currently exists only as a subsidiary of Chevron.) Cole’s forthcoming book Fallout chronicles this history... (more)

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