Third District Foes Differ on Eminent Domain for Underwater Homeowners

San Bernardino County, the city of Ontario and the city of Fontana recently formed a Homeownership Protection Program joint powers authority.

Third District supervisor candidate James Ramos and incumbent Neil Derry have taken different positions on the use of eminent domain as a way to deal with underwater mortgages in San Bernardino County.

San Bernardino County, the city of Ontario and the city of Fontana recently formed a Homeownership Protection Program joint powers authority to look at proposals to address this issue.

The authority board is comprised of county chief executive officer Greg Devereaux, Ontario city manager Chris Hughes, and Fontana city manager Ken Hunt.

Ramos, former chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, announced his opposition to the use of eminent domain last week.

"It's clear to me that expanding government's power to seize private property through eminent domain is no solution to our housing problems," Ramos said in a statement. "I look forward to seeing other proposals that are presented to the JPA where coalitions between homeowners, local leaders and industry work together to bring solutions to address this issue."

Ramos said he is supportive of "all constructive ideas" that could help address a very real problem. But the use of eminent domain, which has never been used as proposed here, "is at best a risky expansion of government power and potentially counterproductive to real solutions and the fledgling recovery of real estate that is beginning to take shape."

In addition, the use of eminent domain will cause excessive legal costs that could expose taxpayers for years to come, Ramos said.

Derry, who finished second behind Ramos in the and now faces the challenger in a two-candidate contest in November, said he's waiting to see what comes out of the joint powers authority.

"I'm waiting to see what they come up with first," Derry said Friday. "I think it shows a lack of judgment on my opponent's part.

"We have thousands of residents who are underwater on their homes, and we have to consider every option. Obviously my opponent's not worried about being underwater on his home. That's not the case for many residents and constituents.

"Technically, they're not talking about seizing homes," Derry said. "This would be an effort to protect owners and their homes."

The Third District of San Bernardino County includes Redlands and Loma Linda. It's home to about 407,000 residents and it covers roughly 2,700 square miles.

There were more than 100 foreclosure properties in the zip code areas in the month of July 2012, according to records compiled by RealtyTrac.

San Bernardino County ranked third-highest in California in July for default notices, auction sale notices, and bank repossessions, according to the Irvine-based company.

For more information about Ramos' campaign for Supervisor visit www.RamosForSupervisor.com.

For more information about Derry's campaign ro re-election visit neilderry.com.

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