Vallejo, CA Foreclosure Registry is Frozen in Wake of Federal Ruling
On October 6, Times-Herald published an article titled Vallejo Foreclosure Registry Frozen in Wake of Federal Ruling.
Vallejo foreclosure registry frozen in wake of federal ruling
A city ordinance designed to track foreclosed-on Vallejo homes, in effect since April, has been suspended following a federal court ruling in Illinois.
The Vacant and Foreclosed Residential Property Registration Program has collected $75,000 for 17 registered properties since May, according to the most recent City Manager’s Bi-Weekly Report newsletter, available at www.ci.vallejo.ca.us.
There are an estimated 300 properties citywide that qualified as vacant or foreclosed-on, city Code Enforcement Manager Nimat Shakoor-Grantham has said at public meetings.
The Vallejo City Council-approved program, however, balances on the edge of uncertainty following a recent federal court ruling exempting lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from a similar vacant property program in Chicago, city officials confirmed this week.
Attorneys for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s parent organization, Federal Housing Finance Agency, argued in court that Chicago could not impose its regulations on federal agencies in what “amounted to a tax on the federal government,” according to a Chicago Tribune article published online Aug. 26 at www.chicagotribune.com.
Vallejo’s Property Registration Program Web page, under its Code Enforcement section, carries a red banner headline noting the program is “suspended until further notice.”
Code Enforcement’s Shakoor-Grantham, reached Tuesday, said she is still studying the ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin. She added that she is still determining how many of Vallejo’s foreclosed homes have mortgages held by Fannie Mae or Fredie Mac.
“I’m kind of on pins and needles right now,” Shakoor-Grantham said. “If Fanny and Freddie, in my opinion, weren’t such big violators, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.”
The ordinance, approved unanimously in March and lauded by city leaders and the public, calls for foreclosed property owners and “any beneficiary that is pursuing foreclosure” of a relevant property to pay a $368 fee per site, board up and secure the building within 10 days of vacancy and again each Jan. 1 until the home is permanently occupied. Owners are also required to perform monthly site visits, maintain the property and visibly provide their contact information for neighbors, according to the city.
Although the Council was initially cautioned last year by City Attorney Claudia Quintana about moving forward on the ordinance while litigation in Chicago continued, city officials determined the Chicago case primarily targeted commercial, rather than residential, properties — unlike Vallejo’s ordinance. Council members directed city staff to move forward on some type of ordinance, then go back to tweak it later if problems arose.
Quintana said Wednesday that she is studying the issue, and that her findings might call for some amendments to the city ordinance.
To view the online article, please click here.
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: www.safeguardproperties.com.