A pair of largely ceremonial Oakland City Council resolutions, both lauding Richmond for its efforts in helping owners of underwater mortgages in that city, is heading on a collision course next week. On Tuesday, the Oakland Community and Economic Development Committee approved a watered down resolution authored by Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan designed to avoid making Wall Street jittery about Oakland’s own ambitions to pursue principal reduction and possibly the use of eminent domain to stanch the number of foreclosures.
A similar resolution by Coucilmember Desley Brooks is also scheduled to be heard at the Nov. 19 council meeting. Both resolutions issue support for Richmond, however, while Kaplan’s asks for a legal analysis of Richmond’s program by the city attorney’s office, Brooks’ simply asks for an outside group to compile data measuring the impact of foreclosures in Oakland. According to a staff report last week, over 12,000 Oaklanders lost their homes to foreclosure since 2007. Currently, 1,500 homeowners are in the process of foreclosure.
Kaplan indicated Tuesday the potential for knitting together the two resolutions is not likely. “This is not about authorship,” said Kaplan, who said she was amendable to changing the name of the resolution to a generic title before joking to call it , the “God is always great” resolution.
While Brooks’ pleas for passing her resolution have some speculating whether she intends to take Oakland down the same laudable, but precarious financial road as Richmond, Kaplan’s is viewed as more evenhanded. Kaplan said all references to an approach similar to Richmond being replicated in Oakland were deleted from the resolution. Instead, Kaplan said from the podium normally reserved for public speakers, the resolution focuses on recognizing Richmond in their efforts in principal reduction and “supporting that goal.”
“Between the two, this one is less bad,” said Paul Jung, president of the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce of Kaplan’s resolution. He added the committee should be “mindful of unintended consequences when we act out in anger against an economic downturn.” Following national coverage earlier this year of Richmond’s actions to quell foreclosures, a simple bond sale elicited no takers from Wall Street. Critics of the banks, allege Wall Street ostensibly drew an economic red line around the city as a warning.
Councilmember Libby Schaaf said she is confident Kaplan’s resolution accomplishes the goal of registering support for Richmond “in a way that’s not going to set off alarm bells.” Oddly, Councilmember Larry Reid, who chairs the committee, said, “I am not just ready to vote on either ordinance. I just don’t know enough.” A week ago, Reid, along with Councilmember Noel Gallo, were added as co-authors for Brook’s competing foreclosure resolution.
Council President Pat Kernighan said procedurally both resolutions should be heard concurrently by the council next week. She also reiterated a belief Tuesday that is similar to one given last week regarding Brooks’ plan that “There is so much analysis that needs to be done before we take a public stand.”