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By Kathleen (Kat) Becker | Agent in Los Angeles, CA
  • NEW 2014 REAL ESTATE LAWS...

    Posted Under: Home Buying in California, Home Selling in California, Agent2Agent in California  |  January 18, 2014 8:20 PM  |  605 views  |  2 comments

    NEW 2014 LAWS: Real Estate

    IN NEWS / BY MICHAEL P. NEUFELD / ON DECEMBER 29, 2013 AT 12:02 AM /
    NEW LAWS Logo

    This is the fourth in a series of articles on the new laws taking effect Wednesday, January 1, in California. (File Photo)

    By Michael P. Neufeld

    Sacramento, CA – On Wednesday, January 1, a host of new laws will take effect in California, related to real estate and housing. During the legislative year, Governor Jerry Brown signed a total of 800 bills and vetoed 96. Brown, who is a third-term governor, has now signed over 13,500 regular session bills during his tenure as the state’s top elected official.

    REAL ESTATE/HOUSING

    Effective January 1, 2014

    A.B. 92 – LIKE-KIND PROPERTY ACQUISITION – (Assembly Budget Committee) – Not withstanding any other law, any 1031 exchange that occurs on or after January 1, 2014, a taxpayer acquiring a “like-kind” property located outside of California must file an information return with the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) for that taxable year and every year thereafter in which the gain or loss from the exchange has not been recognized. Taxpayers who fail to file such information return and tax returns, the FTB may then propose to assess the amount of tax, interest, and penalties due by estimating net income from any available information, including the amount of gain.

    URBAN FARMA.B. 551 – URBAN AGRICULTURAL INCENTIVE ZONES ACT- (D-Philip Y. Ting-San Francisco/19) – The Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act promotes small-scale sustainable urban farm enterprises. It permits a city or county and a landowner to enter into a contract for at least five years to restrict the use of vacant, unimproved, or otherwise blighted lands for small-scale production of agricultural crops and animal husbandry. The law does require the property must be at least 0.10 acres in size. The county assessor must value property restricted for crops and animal husbandry at a rate based on the average per-acre value of irrigated cropland in the state of California, adjusted proportionately to reflect the acreage of the property as specified.EXPIRES: January 1, 2019.

    A.B. 1404 – SHARED FENCES AND BOUNDARIES - (Assembly Judiciary Committee) – This law states that adjoining landowners must share equally the responsibility for maintaining boundaries and monuments between them. Adjoining landowners are presumed to share an equal benefit from any fence dividing their properties, as well as equal costs for construction or maintenance, unless otherwise agreed in writing. The legislation also provides specific procedural requirements for an owner who intends to incur costs for a division fence to notify the adjoining owner of the estimated costs and other information. The existing law — enacted in 1872 which requires a homeowner who fully encloses a property to refund a neighbor a just proportion of the value of a division fence — has been repealed.

    Electric MeterS.B. 196 – UTILITY RATE SCHEDULE - (R-Anthony Cannella-Modesto/12) -   A master-meter customer of an apartment building, mobile-home park, or similar residential complex, must post in a conspicuous place the applicable specific current residential gas or electrical rate schedule as published by the serving utility, rather than the prevailing residential utilities rate schedule as previously required. Alternatively, the landlord as a master-meter customer may elect to post a website address for a tenant to access the schedule as long as the landlord also does the following: (1) state in the posting that an individual user may request a copy of the specific current residential gas or electrical rate schedule from the master-meter customer; and (2) provide the schedule upon request at no cost.

    S.B. 269 – PREPAID RENTAL LISTING SERVICE - (D-Jerry Hill-San Mateo/13) – The California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) is authorized under this legislation to cite an unlicensed person for engaging in prepaid rental listing services without a prepaid rental listing service license or real estate broker license. A prepaid rental listing service is generally considered a business that charges a fee for providing a prospective tenant with a list of available places for rent. Under this bill, existing required content for a written contract that a prepaid rental listing service licensee must offer a prospective tenant before accepting a fee has been broadened to include the licensee’s license number as well as a specific statutory notice about refunds. An aggrieved person with a final judgment against a prepaid rental listing service licensee may apply to CalBRE for payment from the Consumer Recovery Account. Any payment from the Consumer Recovery Account will automatically lead to the suspension of the prepaid rental listing service licensee.

    FORECLOSURE NoticeS.B. 310 – MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE NOTICE – (D-Ron Calderon-Montebello/30) – This measure states that except when acting as a trustee, a title insurance company is not liable for violating certain laws prohibiting the filing of a notice of default or notice of sale if the title company, while acting in good faith and in the normal course of business, records or causes to record a notice of default or notice of sale at the request of the trustee, substituted trustee, or beneficiary. This protection applies to the following laws: (1) prohibition against the filing of a notice of default until 30 days after the lender contacts a borrower to explore options of avoiding foreclosure; (2) prohibition against the filing of a notice of default or sale if a short sale is approved by all parties as specified; (3) prohibition against the filing of a notice of default or sale if the borrower has submitted a complete loan modification application as specified; and (4) injunctive relief for certain violations.

     S.B. 488 – SUBSTANDARD HOUSING CONDITIONS - (D-Ben Hueso-Chula Vista/40) - The enforcement authority for determining certain substandard housing conditions previously delegated only to county health officers, has been expanded under this legislation to include local code enforcement officers as defined. To help clean up blighted areas, an infestation of insects, vermin, or rodents, as well as inadequate garbage storage and removal facilities, can now be determined by a local code enforcement officer if the city does not have an agreement or the resources to contract for county health services. To qualify to make these determinations, the local code enforcement officer must successfully complete a course of study in the appropriate subject matter as determined by the city. A property owner will not be cited by both local and county enforcement agencies for the same violation regarding pest infestation or inadequate garbage storage or removal.

    S.B. 612 – HUMAN TRAFFICKING VICTIM PROTECTIONS FOR TENANTS – (D-Mark Leno-San Francisco/11) - A residential tenant can terminate a tenancy within 30 days by notifying the landlord that the tenant was a victim of human trafficking as defined. The tenant’s notice to terminate tenancy must generally include a copy of a police report or court order regarding the tenant or tenant’s household member. From January 2014 to January 2016, however, a tenant may simply provide documentation from a qualified third party professional indicating that the tenant or household member is seeking assistance for physical or mental injuries resulting from the offense. This legislation also prohibits a landlord from terminating a tenancy, or failing to renew a tenancy, based on acts of human trafficking if documented by a police report or protective court order and the wrongdoer is not a tenant of the same dwelling unit. However, the landlord, may terminate the tenancy if, after invoking protection under this law, the tenant allows the wrongdoer named in the police report or protective order to visit the property, or the landlord reasonably believes that the wrongdoer poses a physical threat to other tenants or to the tenant’s right to quiet possession. Existing California law protects a tenant if the tenant or tenant’s household member is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or elder or dependent adult abuse.

    PEST CONTROLS.B. 662 – INSURANCE: Structural Pest Control - (D-Cathleen Galgiani-Stockton/5) - Existing legislation permitting a structural pest control operator to file with the Structural Pest Control Board evidence of either an insurance policy or bond as specified, has been revised to eliminate the option of the bond. Furthermore, the minimum limit of the insurance policy that an operator must maintain has been increased from $25,000 to $500,000 for bodily injury and destruction of property. Additionally, the amount of a surety bond that an operator must maintain has been boosted from $4,000 to $12,500. Plus, the surety bond requirement for reissuance of a license or registration after suspension or revocation has been increased from a range of $1,000 to $8,000, to a range of $8,000 to $25,000.

    S.B. 676 – REAL ESTATE RECORDS: Unlawful Destruction - (D-Marty Block-San Diego/39) - Under this legislation, the Bureau of Real Estate can suspend or revoke the license of real estate salespersons, brokers, or corporate brokerage firm, if the broker, salesperson, or any director, officer, employee, or agent of the corporation, knowingly destroys, alters, conceals, mutilates, or falsifies any of the books, papers, writings, documents, or tangible objects required to be maintained and provided upon notice, or sought in connection with an investigation, audit, or examination. Under existing California law, a real estate broker must generally retain for 3 years copies of all documents executed or obtained by him in connection with any transactions involved licensed activities.

    S.B. 745 – HOA DOCUMENTS/BILLING - (Senate Transportation & Housing Committee) – Existing law requiring a homeowners’ association (HOA) to use a statutory form for billing charges for HOA sales disclosures has been revised. The provisions of this legislation now requires the form to be in at least 10-point type and include an itemization for “Rental Restrictions, if any.” In addition, existing law stating that, when an inconsistency exists, governing documents prevail over articles of incorporation, which in turn prevail over bylaws, and in turn prevail over operating rules, has been revised to apply when a conflict, not inconsistency, exists. Additionally, current law requiring delivery of documents to an HOA by email, fax, other electronic means, or personal delivery if the HOA consents to any of those methods, has been extended to allow delivery by first-class mail, postage prepaid, registered or certified mail, express mail, or overnight delivery by an express service center, regardless of HOA consent.

    CONTRACTOR GlovesS.B. 822 – CONDOMINIUM MANAGER EXEMPTION –(Senate Committee On Business, Professions & Economic Development) – California law now states that a common interest development manager performing management services is not required to have a contractor’s license. Conversely, the term “contractor” or “consultant” does not include a common interest development manager. A “common interest development manager” is generally defined as someone who, for compensation or in expectation of compensation, provides or contracts to provide management or financial services (or represents himself or herself as providing management or financial services) to a condominium complex or other common interest development. Real estate agents who are property managers performing activities for which a real estate license is required are already exempt from the contractor’s licensing requirements under existing law (379)





  • SEIU Protest Update for May 1, 2012...Traffic Delays...BE-AWARE...

    Posted Under: General Area in Los Angeles County, Agent2Agent in Los Angeles County, In My Neighborhood in Los Angeles County  |  April 29, 2012 10:24 PM  |  1,200 views  |  No comments



    KILROY NOTICE: SEIU Protest Update

    Dear Tenants,

    Pursuant to our previous e-mail regarding possible demonstrations by the SEIU, we have received the following additional information:

    Numerous demonstrations are expected throughout the Greater Los Angeles area starting at 7 am and culminating and concluding in Downtown LA between 12 noon and 11 pm on Tuesday May 1st. Multiple City, County, State and Federal agencies will be deployed to deter any criminal activity associated with the demonstrations. Early estimates for combined total number of demonstrators is 10,000+

    Traffic in the Downtown area is expected to gridlock from Figueroa to Alameda and Cesar Chavez to the 10 Fwy from 1 pm to 11 pm as many of the demonstrators will be attempting to enter and leave the area from multiple directions.

    The following is the latest detailed outline of the expected events and scheduled rally throughout the Greater LA area and Downtown LA for May 1st: Please note that the different areas of the city are categorized as North, South, East and West Wind. When you see the reference “Flash Point” it simply means rally location; the marching group will conduct a brief rally at that location and then move on.

    THE 4 WINDS

    WEST WIND
    Rally: 10 AM — Wilshire & Ocean
    Caravan begins: 10:30 AM
    1st Flashpoint: 11:30 AM — Wilshire and Federal (Veterans Affairs, Federal Building, UCLA)
    2nd Flashpoint: 12 PM — Rodeo Dr & Santa Monica Bl.(Beverly Hills)
    3rd Flashpoint: 12:30 PM — Wilshire & Labrea (Bank of America)
    4th Flashpoint: 1:30 PM — 6th St & Alvarado (MacArthur Park)
    March to Convergence: 2 – 2:30 PM 6th St & Main St (border of Skid Row)

    EAST WIND
    10:00am: Gather at Chavez/Atlantic, 10:50–Walking Procession Past ELAC to Belvedere Park s
    11:30am: Depart from Belvedere Park in Cars/Bikes/Trucks and proceed along Chavez to Obregon Park (Making a loop past Esteban Torres High School)
    12:00 – 12:30pm: Obregon Park
    12:30pm: Depart along 1st street to the West heading to Mariachi Plaza
    1pm – 1:30pm: Mariachi Plaza
    1:30pm: Load onto Metro to Union Station
    1:50: Gather at Park across from Union Station/Placita Olvera, March to 6th and Main Convergence point by 2:30pm

    SOUTH WIND
    Rally: 10 AM — CSU Dominguez Hills
    Caravan begins: 10:30 AM
    1st Flashpoint: 11:15 AM — 112th & Central (near Maxine Waters Employment Prep Center)
    2nd Flashpoint: 11:45 AM — 103rd & Central (Ted Watkins Park)
    3rd Flashpoint: 12:30 PM — 41st & Central 
    4th Flashpoint: 1:30 PM — Figueroa & Washington Bl (LA Trade Tech)
    Park & March to Convergence: 1:45-2:30 PM6th St & Main St (border of Skid Row)

    NORTH WIND
    Rally: Saticoy and Van Nuys – March in the general area to the Valley Civic Center
    Take the MTA Orange and Red Lines to Union Station to meet up with the East Wind 
    1:50 PM – gather at the park across from Union Station / Placita Olvera
    March to 6th St and Main Convergence point by 2:30 PM (LA CAN office)


    o The Four Winds are expected to meet at 6th Street and Main St throughout the day
    o At 4 pm the Four Winds plan to join the SCIC Immigrants Right’s March at Olympic and Broadway
    o After the SCIC March the Four Winds plan to proceed to Pershing Square to have a General Assembly @ 7:30 pm 


    LAPD along with multiple other agencies and the local BID’s will be fully deployed in the affected areas. If you plan on travelling to these areas on this day, we strongly encourage you to plan ahead as we expect major traffic delays. 

    We will continue to keep you apprised on any new developments in this regard.

  • Brown to scrap real estate licensing agency

    Posted Under: General Area in California, Market Conditions in California, Agent2Agent in California  |  January 13, 2012 11:14 AM  |  863 views  |  1 comment

    Brown to scrap real estate licensing agency

    January 13th, 2012, 10:56 am 

    by Jeff Collins, The Orange County Register

    http://lansner.ocregister.com/2012/01/10/brown-to-scrap-real-estate-licensing-agency/156941/

    The California Department of Real Estate would be eliminated and its functions transferred to the state Consumer Affairs Department under Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 budget proposal unveiled Thursday, the Sacramento Bee has reported.

    However, because the agency gets its revenue entirely from fees instead of taxes, the plan isn’t expected to gut the department or eliminate its enforcement and fraud prevention activities.

    The consolidation is one of dozens of changes Brown is proposing as part of his plan to streamline state government and cut spending.

    Other proposed changes affecting housing:

    Eliminating the Office of Real Estate Appraisers and moving its functions to Consumer Affairs.

    Moving the functions of the California Housing Finance Agency into the Department of Housing and Community Development.

    Merging the Department of Corporations and the Department of Financial Institutions into a new Department of Business Oversight.

    DRE already is strapped. It’s $47.8 million budget  supports a staff of around 400 employees, of which only about 130 are attorneys, auditors and investigators  involved in investigating and enforcing laws designed to prevent real estate fraud. That includes cracking down on loan modification and foreclosure scams, which have been rampant in recent years.  The Orange County District Attorney, by comparison, has 155 investigators.

    The department oversees nearly 436,000 real estate licensees, consisting of both real estate agents and mortgage brokers. Among its duties is administering the real estate license exams and preventing unlicensed residents from acting as real estate agents.

    Assistant Real Estate Commissioner Bill Moran said he doesn’t expect the proposal to result in layoffs, but he cautioned that DRE officials have yet to see any details of the governor’s plan.

    Click for 2011's top-viewed "Really's"

    DRE’s budget comes entirely from license and subdivision filing fees rather than from taxes. The fees are earmarked for real estate regulation, said Moran, the department’s enforcement chief.

    “If it makes government more efficient, we’re in favor of it,” Moran said. “The details of this will come out over the next several months.”

    The Department of Corporations has been involved in housing by regulating and monitoring companies that provide mortgages to home owners and buyers.

    The California Housing Finance Agency provides financing and programs to help provide affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents.

    And the Office of Real Estate Appraisers licenses and certifies property appraisers

  • NEW LAWS in 2012 that may affect property owners...

    Posted Under: Home Buying in California, Home Selling in California, Property Q&A in California  |  December 8, 2011 9:29 AM  |  913 views  |  No comments

    NEW LAWS in 2012 that may affect property owners...

    •Sellers disclosing water-conserving plumbing fixtures: Effective Jan. 1, 2012, sellers will have to disclose whether a property has water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Water-conserving plumbing fixtures are low-flow toilets, shower heads, and faucets. The law also requires that by Jan. 1, 2017, a single-family residence built on or before Jan. 1, 1994 must generally be equipped with water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Senate Bill 837

    •Fees for HOA disclosures: Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, Assembly Bill 771 requires a homeowner's association (HOA) to, upon written request, give an estimate of the fee for providing a prospective buyer with the governing documents of the common interest development and other required HOA disclosures. The fee must be reasonable based upon the HOA's actual cost for procuring, preparing, reproducing, and delivering the HOA documents. This is a huge win for consumers as fees for HOA documents have wildly escalated over the last few years. Transactions with total association document fees over $1,000 are not uncommon.

    •Largest tax delinquents now public:Commencing Jan. 1, 2012, both the State Board of Equalization and the Franchise Tax Board must periodically make public a list of the 500 persons with the largest tax delinquencies in excess of $100,000. The lists must include, among other things, each taxpayer's occupational or professional license numbers. Certain state governmental licensing entities must suspend and refuse to issue or renew an occupational or professional license for anyone on either tax delinquency list. Assembly Bill 1424

     

    •Renting out condominiums: Starting Jan. 1, 2012, an owner in a common interest development is exempt from any prohibition in a governing document against renting or leasing the unit, unless that prohibition was in effect before the owner acquired title to his or her unit. Senate Bill 150

     

    •Tenants smoking ban: Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, a residential landlord can prohibit the smoking of cigarettes and other tobacco products in a rental property. For new tenants on or after Jan. 1, 2012, the areas where smoking is prohibited must be stated in the lease or rental agreement. For preexisting tenants before 2012, a new provision prohibiting smoking is a change in the terms of tenancy that requires written notice. Senate Bill 332


  • LADWP Neighborhood News and Information Alert Power Outage Update 12:30 PM Thursday, December 1

    Posted Under: General Area in Los Angeles County, Crime & Safety in Los Angeles County, In My Neighborhood in Los Angeles County  |  December 1, 2011 1:28 PM  |  1,550 views  |  No comments
    DATE: December 1, 2011 12:58:29 PM PST
    logo

     Neighborhood News and Information Alert

    Power Outage Update

    12:30 PM Thursday, December 1

    The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) reports approximately 141,000 of its 1.4 million electric customers are without power as high winds continue to cause outages in several neighborhoods. Approximately 138,000 of these customers are located in the Los Angeles Metro Area and the remaining 3,000 are in the San Fernando Valley.

    LADWP currently has over 100 crews responding to over 1,000 separate incidents and has called in crews from out of state and from other remote areas in the State of California to assist in restoration efforts.

    LADWP crews are working in extremely dangerous conditions to restore power and are working as quickly and safely as possible to do so.  At this time, the current estimated time of restoration for customers experiencing outages is 24 - 48 hours. Many customers will experience shorter outages, but customers experiencing outages should be prepared for up to 24 - 48 hours.  LADWP asks for the patience of our customers as we work around the clock to restore service during this major wind storm.

    The following areas and neighborhoods have the highest number of customers impacted:

    WESTSIDE
    Venice: 10,100
    Del Rey: 7,800
    Westchester: 7,200
    Playa del Rey: 2,500

    SOUTH
    Green Meadows: 5,500
    South Los Angeles: 6,100
    Baldwin Hills/Crenshaw: 2,400

    CENTRAL/DOWNTOWN
    Hollywood: 4,400
    Hollywood Hills: 5,800
    Los Feliz: 5,100
    Chinatown: 1,700
    East Hollywood: 7,600

    EASTSIDE/NORTHEAST
    Highland Park: 13,000
    El Sereno: 11,500
    Glassell Park: 9,700
    Eagle Rock: 6,400
    Lincoln Heights: 3,000 
    Cypress Park: 9,300
    Griffith Park: 5,200
    Boyle Heights: 3,300

    VALLEY
    Van Nuys – 2,100

    LADWP strongly encourages the public to be vigilant and cautious to stay safe during this storm. Stay away from any downed power lines and poles as well as downed trees and limbs, and protect children home from school today from the same. Beware of traffic signals that may be affected by power outage and proceed with extreme caution. Allow access for uniformed LADWP crews, all of whom carry Department-issued identification cards, so they may service infrastructure in need of repair. 

    In the event of a power outage:

    ·                                 Stay calm.

    ·                                 Have a flashlight and extra batteries nearby. Don’t use candles in a power outage.

    ·                                 Turn off lights but leave one light turned on so you will know when your service is restored.

    ·                                 Turn off and unplug appliances and other electrical equipment. Unplug heat-producing items like irons and space heaters. This helps prevent circuit overloading, which could delay restoration of service.

    ·                                 Call us and report your outage at 1-800-DIAL DWP (1-800-342-5397).

    If you encounter a downed power line:

    ·                                 Report any downed power lines immediately by calling the LADWP at 1-800-DIAL-DWP (1-800-342-5397). If you or someone else is in danger, call 911.

    ·                                 Do not touch a downed or dangling wire or anyone or anything in contact with it. Always assume a downed line is still energized.

    ·                                 If a power line falls on your car, stay in the car and wait for help. If you must get out, make sure you do not touch the metal parts of the car and the ground at the same time. The safest exit method is to open the door, stand on the door sill and jump free without touching the car.

    ·                                 Stay away from metal fences, such as chain link fence, as there may be a power line down and touching the fence somewhere beyond your sight.

    ·                                 If there is damage to the connection from the power pole to your house, you should go to the electrical box and turn off the main switch or shut off the fuse switch. Again, always assume electric lines are live.

    ·                                 In case of an electrical emergency, stay calm and think before you act. Don't become a victim while trying to help others. Call 911.

    ·                                 If someone is shocked or not breathing, apply cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR.) Then cover the victim with a blanket, keep their head low and get medical attention.

      

      

  • California creating mortgage fraud task force

    Posted Under: Financing in California, Foreclosure in California  |  May 23, 2011 9:07 AM  |  443 views  |  No comments

    latimes.com/business/la-fi-mortgage-fraud-20110523,0,1196882.story

    latimes.com

    California creating mortgage fraud task force

    The team of 17 lawyers and eight special agents from the state Department of Justice will pursue corporate fraud, scams and fraudulent lending practices, Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris says.

    By Alejandro Lazo, Los Angeles Times

    12:02 AM PDT, May 23, 2011

    California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, saying that years of unscrupulous lending still haunts the state, is creating a 25-person task force to target mortgage fraud of any size — from small operations that preyed on troubled borrowers to corporations that sold risky loans as safe investments.

    The team of 17 lawyers and eight special agents from the state Department of Justice will pursue three major areas, Harris said in an interview:

    •Corporate fraud, including instances in which bundled mortgages were sold as securities to the state or its pension funds under false pretenses. Harris said her office plans to prosecute some cases under California's False Claims Act, which she described as "one of those very powerful tools that California uniquely has … to pursue, in essence, what are false claims that are submitted to the state."

    •Scams, including instances in which consultants, lawyers and others took fees from people in foreclosure, saying they would help the homeowners get loan modifications or other remedies, but delivered nothing.

    •Fraudulent lending practices, including deceptive marketing, failure to fully disclose loan terms and qualifying people for loans who couldn't afford the terms.

    Harris said the mortgage fraud that ultimately led to the housing crash continues to be a drag on the state, causing huge losses in jobs, property values and state revenues.

    "We are looking at a situation of up to $640 billion in wealth having been lost because of this wave of foreclosures that has hit the state," Harris said, referring to the decline in homeowner equity. "There is a direct connection" between mortgage fraud "and the issue that we are challenged with in terms of our state budget crisis."

    Creation of the state's Mortgage Fraud Strike Force, which Harris will announce at a news conference Monday in Los Angeles with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, comes as other states turn up the heat on the lending industry.

    New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman is seeking records from three major Wall Street banks as part of a broad investigation into the mortgage crisis. Also, a months-long investigation by all 50 state attorneys general into the foreclosure practices of the nation's five largest mortgage servicers is continuing.

    Harris said her initiative was distinct from the multistate investigation because it would go after all aspects of the mortgage-lending business. Harris, formerly San Francisco's district attorney, made a campaign promise last year when running for attorney general that she would crack down on mortgage fraud.

    Many Wall Street financial institutions — private equity firms, hedge funds and banks — bundled often poor-quality mortgage loans into securities during the boom years and sold them to major investors, including pension funds. That resulted in billions of dollars in losses when borrowers defaulted on the loans, triggering the financial crisis.

    Harris said that although successful prosecutions of major players in the mortgage meltdown have been difficult, the severity of the crisis called for a tough-minded approach to mortgage fraud, one that could target executives of major financial institutions.

    "If the evidence leads us there, no case will be too big or too small to pursue," Harris said. "There remain millions of people affected by the mortgage crisis."

    Angelo R. Mozilo, whose Calabasas-based Countrywide Financial Corp. was a major underwriter of risky subprime loans, agreed to a $67.5-million civil settlement with federal regulators but was not prosecuted criminally, despite a nearly three-year investigation by the Justice Department. Countrywide was acquired by Bank of America Corp. in 2008.

    Harris' office reached a $6.5-million settlement this year with Mozilo and another former executive of Countrywide who the state had accused of predatory lending. Consumer advocates decried that settlement as far too small to be meaningful.

    "The burden of proof in a criminal case is very high," Los Angeles defense attorney Jan Handzlik said. "It would be necessary for the AG to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the mortgage executives had knowledge of the fraud and acted with a criminal intent."

    Handzlik added that such proof is difficult "when those executives are relying on the representation of numerous other institutions such as the ratings agencies, the lenders who gave out the mortgages in the first place, the insurance companies that backed these securities and so forth."

    William K. Black, a University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor and an aggressive regulator of the savings and loan industry after its crisis in the 1980s, said the state prosecutors could be successful if they carefully chose their targets.

    Black asserted that the federal government has the means to pursue these cases but hasn't shown the will.

    "The success rate in the savings and loan cases, despite the fact that they were more complex … was 90%, and this was against the best criminal defense attorneys in America," Black said.

    alejandro.lazo@latimes.com

    Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

  • California's Budget Crisis and How it effects Schools...

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in California, Schools in California, Home Buying in California  |  May 10, 2011 9:23 AM  |  933 views  |  1 comment
    As I was walking my granddaughter to school this morning, I was approached by her teacher who was at the main gate handing out flyers..."Parents:  Education Can't Wait for the Kids of Our State...California is in a State of Emergency."  

    The LAUSD, which gets it's money from the State is threatening to raise the class size and lay off over 7,000 teachers and other school employees in 2011-2012.  School days are being cut.  

    This is not just for LAUSD, it is happening STATE WIDE!!!  

    Governor Jerry Brown is attempting to balance the budget!  Every year California goes through this...this year, there is a $15.4 billion deficit, $4 billion of which could be slashed from the public school system.

    On Friday, May 13th, 2011, LAUSD teachers will begin picketing in front of schools and leading to a large mass picketing downtown at Pershing Square (5th and Olive) where they will have a rally starting at 4PM.  All are invited to join!  This Rally will include teachers, parents, employees from School Districts all over Souther California.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/09/MN841JDT65.DTL

    What can you do to protest the Budget Cuts from Local Schools?  Write, email or call your local State Assembly Member.  Here are some of the local contact numbers:

    For Los Angeles Area:

    District 47:  Holly J. Mitchell (916) 319-2047 Assemblymenber.mitchell@assembly.ca.gov

    District 42:  Mike Feuer        (916) 319-2042 Assemblymember.Feuer@assembly.ca.gov

    District 45:  Gilbert Cedillo    (916) 319-2045 Assemblymember.Cedillo@assembly.ca.gov

    And if you do not know who your Assembly Member is, here is the link to look them up!

    http://www.asm.ca.gov/acs/newcomframeset.asp?committee=4

    Do your part!  Call your Assembly Member and voice your opinion!















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