Seizing Mortgages – New Cities Show Interest in Richmond’s Eminent Domain Plan

July 16, 2014

In a previous post, we discussed the city of Richmond, California, and its failure to get a supermajority vote to move forward with its plan to seize underwater mortgages through its eminent domain power. While it failed to pass the resolution, it sought other California cities, such as San Francisco, to join a joint powers authority to implement the plan.

It appears that San Francisco is now considering joining Richmond’s joint powers authority as members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have expressed interest. The Board has worked with the city attorney’s office to draft legislation to create the joint powers authority with Richmond. The Board had set a meeting to vote on a resolution commending Richmond for its eminent domain program and declaring San Francisco’s intention to sign on to a joint powers authority. But, the Board postponed the vote to allow for more time to explore this plan.

San Francisco’s interest in Richmond’s eminent domain plan is noteworthy. Until now, many of the cities that have expressed interest have been smaller cities with struggling economies. San Francisco’s interest will likely increase awareness of the plan, and it may even start a trend among larger cities.

Council members and housing advocacy groups in New York City have recently called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to help homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure. New York has not set any dates for a vote, but the fact that the Richmond plan is in discussions in such a city may be an important step in validating the plan.

It appears that Richmond’s eminent domain plan is still far from being implemented. But, the idea is certainly being discussed nationwide and, now, in bigger cities. If cities such as San Francisco adopt the Richmond plan, other cities may begin to take the plan much more seriously in an effort to help homeowners. We will follow the Richmond plan’s progress in San Francisco and other cities and provide updates on this blog.

If you have questions about this blog post, please contact Attorney Streck at or 608.283.6723.

Kevin Du
Kevin Du