San Diego Foreclosure Measure Impact Unclear

On November 11, the Voice of San Diego published an article titled Impact of Alvarez’s Signature Foreclosure Measure Unclear.

Impact of Alvarez’s Signature Foreclosure Measure Unclear

Councilman David Alvarez celebrated a legislative victory last November after months of pushing for a registry to force banks to take responsibility for foreclosed homes before they become run down and affect neighbors’ property values.

Alvarez and his supporters have repeatedly touted the measure, known as the Property Value Protection Ordinance, as he campaigns for mayor but nearly a year after it was approved, it’s still hard to tell whether it’s achieving some of its core goals.

The nearly year-old city law created a registry of foreclosed homes and contact information for banks to ensure the city can hold those who don’t maintain their properties responsible. Participants pay $76 annually to register and up to $5,000 in fees if they fail to do so.

The city has logged roughly 1,700 residential properties in its foreclosure database and collected more than $190,000 in associated fees. But a city code enforcement manager charged with overseeing the program couldn’t detail how it’s help the city crack down on problem properties, or even say whether it’s helped code officers reach the banks responsible for those homes more quickly than they would have without the measure.

“It gives us some leads on tracking people down that may be responsible for the property that we may not have had before but that would be the extent of how it’s helping us,” said acting Code Enforcement Coordinator Mike Richmond.

The limited resources applied to the program may be partly to blame. Nearly a year after program was implemented, the city has hired only one of the three workers a former code enforcement chief said would be necessary to run the program and code workers have only inspected a handful of properties in the registry.

Alvarez and Clare Crawford, president of the Center on Policy Initiatives, a left-leaning think tank that promoted the measure, argue its impact can’t be fully measured yet, or perhaps ever.

They say just requiring banks involved in the foreclosure process to pay a registration fee and share their contact information provides an incentive to take responsibility.

“If (banks) have registered, they know we’re going to hold them accountable,” Alvarez said. “It was a measure to let people know we know who you are and if you don’t maintain your property, (the city) is going to come after them.”

City staffers are set to provide a more extensive report on the program’s caseload, impact and budget before the city’s Land Use and Housing Committee in coming months. Alvarez said he looks forward to that review.

Basics of the Ordinance

Alvarez faced significant opposition from former Mayor Jerry Sanders, fellow City Council members and Realtors in his nearly two-year quest to create the foreclosure registry. It was eventually approved in a 5-3 City Council vote long after the height of the foreclosure crisis.

Neighboring cities, including Chula Vista, approved programs to combat foreclosure-related blight years ago.

Alvarez made compromises in an effort to ensure the measure’s central goal survived.

The final version of the ordinance required lenders to register with the city within 10 days of a notice of default, which is filed after a homeowner falls behind on mortgage payments.

Earlier drafts implied city code officers would regularly inspect those properties to stave off blight, a charge the city’s former code enforcement chief said would require the city to hire as many as 44 new workers.

The measure approved by the City Council simply empowered the city to inspect and monitor residences in the foreclosure database.  At the time, the city projected it needed three new employees to work on the foreclosure registry.

Alvarez and city staffers projected the $76 registration fee and $100-a-day fines on lenders that fail to send proper documentation to the city within 10 days would cover the cost of the program.

Here’s an early look at whether that pledge, along with other goals of the ordinance, have been accomplished.

Goal 1: Create a registry of foreclosed properties and hire three people to oversee it.

In February, the city implemented the ordinance and began adding residences in the foreclosure process to a database.

The registry includes records of fees, contact information for lenders assigned to the properties and basic information about the residence.

City leaders only set aside cash for one new employee for the program.

In May, the city hired an administrative staffer to manage the database, monitor notices of default and other foreclosure-related filings in the city and send out registry notices.

A senior code enforcement worker was also initially assigned to help oversee the program but she’ll soon focus less on those duties, Richmond said.

He said the code enforcement division plans to request money next year to hire a full-time zoning investigator to monitor properties in the foreclosure registry and an administrative assistant who would spend about half of his or her time working on the database.

Goal 2: Ensure banks can’t escape responsibility for blighted properties.

Throughout the foreclosure crisis, the homes around foreclosed properties suffered too. Neighbors’ property values took a hit as weeds sprouted around foreclosed properties and uninvited visitors pounced. Meanwhile, cities sometimes struggled to determine who owned the property and to force banks to take responsibility.

Before the city created its foreclosure registry earlier this year, Richmond said code officers relied on several databases and outside services to track down property owners and lenders.

Richmond said the foreclosure registry has provided another resource for code enforcement officers but couldn’t detail any examples or say how often it’s helped.

Goal 3: Crack down on problem properties.

The ordinance opened the door for the city to penalize financial institutions for foreclosed properties that fall into blight but that hasn’t happened.

Increased enforcement would require more staffing, Richmond said.

Soon after the ordinance was first implemented in February, a code enforcement officer checked more than a dozen properties listed in the database but found no violations that required penalties. Code officers haven’t done random checks of such properties since.

It’s also not clear what fraction of other properties in the database might be considered truly problematic.

Richmond could only single out eight abandoned properties residents or police had complained about that also appear in the city’s foreclosure database. This is a tiny fraction of the more than 1,600 homes listed in a registry created to ensure accountability for problem properties.

This may be because the city requires lenders to sign onto the registry after they’ve filed a notice of default, an early step in the foreclosure process. After this happens, homeowners may catch up on their bills or come to new agreements with their lender and keep their houses.

Goal 4: The ordinance should pay for itself.

Moments before the City Council voted on Alvarez’s hard-fought measure, he repeatedly tried to drive home one point: It wouldn’t cost the city any money.

And it hasn’t.

As of mid-October, the city had collected $126,464 in registry fees and another $65,000 in penalties, according to code enforcement records.

That totals $191,464, nearly $108,000 more than the salary and benefits the program’s single administrative staffer is set to receive this year.

The city is also seeking another $890,000 in penalties that have yet to be paid.

Richmond said the registry fees are funneled directly to the city’s operating fund while the penalty fees go specifically toward code-enforcement efforts. The city has yet to use the latter cash for work associated with the Property Value Protection Ordinance.

To view the online article, please click here.


About Safeguard 
Safeguard Properties is the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and based in Valley View, Ohio, the company inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders,  and other financial institutions. Safeguard employs approximately 1,700 people, in addition to a network of thousands of contractors nationally. Website:



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.