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Occupy Altadena? Not Yet, But Look Next Door (Discussion)

The Occupy Wall Street movement came to San Marino and Pasadena this week.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, which has consisted of thousands of protesters taking to the streets in New York and elsewhere, technically arrived in Southern California prior to this week with some small scale protests in downtown Los Angeles.

However, this week, the spirit of the movement came a little closer,  with hundreds protesting lending policies at the regional headquarters of Fannie Mae in Pasadena, and a more personal protest at the home of a Wells Fargo executive in San Marino.

The San Marino protesters, which can be seen right in the photos of San Marino Patch editor Jessica Hamin, actually occupied the lawn of Wells Fargo CFO Tim Sloan and gathered for an anti-Wall Street protest (for more photos, check out the ).

The San Marino Police Department has already , but what do you think readers?  Did the protesters go too far in this case?  How would you feel if these protests came to Altadena?  What do you think of the Occupy Wall Street movement in general?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Steve Lamb October 07, 2011 at 01:52 PM
Where in Altadena would one go for a a Occupy protest? The branch bank? We have fought to get those and keep them open. The Sheriff's station and the Country Club? Those don't have a physicality that lends itself to such protests....There really isn't a good place and if you read CITY OF QUARTZ you will understand thats part o the genius of the design of suburbia......
terry Morris October 07, 2011 at 02:37 PM
Not cool. I completely support the protests against Wall Street. It is about time. However I think protesting on the front lawn of someone's home is completely out of line. You are protesting against the actions of the corporation this guy works for, not against his family! You are not going to win anyone over to your point of view with this kind of action, you will just alienate the people whose support is needed. People do not like it when families are personally targeted. This guys kids are not culpable and do not need to frightened or shamed by protestors with bullhorns on their front lawn. I have read that they are trying to be a left wing model of the tea party. What a poor choice.
Steve Lamb October 07, 2011 at 02:43 PM
Terry, well... that's what they called "Bringing the war home" in the 1960's. And if you don't want protesters on your lawn, don't implement policies that increase social poverty. This brings into focus my favorite point about the just humane society- its actually not really a benefit to the poor or middle class, its a subsidy to the rich that prevents just enough social disruption that they can live in peace. They abandoned that and the social contract thirty years ago. Its about time noisy peasants showed up on the lawn.. No pitchforks or burning houses .........yet.
True Freedom October 07, 2011 at 03:39 PM
This particular story is disgusting. Rose Gudiel, who they are protesting for, buys a $400k house near the peak of the market in 2005. Her monthly mortgage is $2500 with $500/mo for property tax. With the 35% rule, she should have had a minimum monthly income of $102k. Her job as a rep for the EDD pays roughly HALF that amount. Her brother, who's not on the deed but helped her with rent, was gunned down in gang violence (alleged gang ties... but irrelevant to the story). She falls behind on mortgage... claiming only two weeks late, but Hector Tobar of the LA times got her to admit failing to pay for TEN MONTHS! Now that her home is worth only $260k, she wants a loan mod. We have become the bailout nation... people and corporations reap the benefit when their risky bets pay off... and we bail them out when bad financial decisions head south. When will we start expecting some personal responsibility in this country!?!?!
Dan Abendschein (Editor) October 07, 2011 at 04:03 PM
I'm not sure, but if you had told me a week ago that there was somewhere in San Marino the protesters could occupy, I would not have believed you. I think the most likely target would be another executive's home who happens to live in Altadena... probably unlikely, but not impossible.
Leslie Aitken October 07, 2011 at 04:21 PM
Rose Gudiel represents thousands of others, not just her own situation. I moved into my house 35 years ago. I went through a pretty devastating divorce in the early 2000's. Someone suggested a refinance, and I went for it -- using World Savings, the bank I had all ready had a great loan with. It was a difficult time for me. Perhaps the loan they offered was too good to be true. I should have read the fine print better. I trusted the bank (what WAS I thinking) and went for the loan. I made a mistake, not out of indifference, or trying to get something for nothing. I did what I thought best. It was a HORRIBLE loan. World Savings became Wachovia, then Wells Fargo. I ended up paying compounded interest for 7 years with nothing going to the principal or accruing interest. I ended up $70,000 more in debt after 7 years of making bi-monthly payments! When the economy worsened, it became harder to make the payments. I kept on, sending as much as I could for every payment. After 3 months of making full & partial payments, the bank stopped accepting payments. I had to get caught up, or they wouldn't accept any more payments. A group of friends helped me and I got caught up for a few months, until I fell behind again. I contacted the bank for help and got nothing. Long story short, after 2 1/2 years of applications and reams of paperwork, I was approved for a HAMP loan. It was VERY tough, I had to reapply 6 times. There but by the grace of God go I .....
True Freedom October 07, 2011 at 04:56 PM
@Leslie: I am truly sorry for all the hardship. We all have rough spots in our lives that we must work through. Lord knows I've had my own. So, please don't take my post as unsympathetic. Two key phrases stand out to me: "Rose Gudiel represents thousands of others..." "I should have read the fine print better.." Many, many homebuyers were caught up in the irrational exuberance of a soaring market and easy to get loans that sounded too good to be true. I think we need to expect a little more from people. I'm sure if someone who could only afford a Toyota heads to the car dealer, and the salesman says, "heck, you can afford this Ferrari! I'll give you financing. Sign here!" And if that person accepted that deal, couldn't pay, and had the car repo'd.. .you say to yourself, "What a fool!" But somehow it's different when we're talking houses? People need to be responsibl­e for their financial decisions.”
True Freedom October 07, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Also, look at things from a few other angles. First, folks like me got screwed by people like Rose. See, one reason home prices soared was because stock was being gobbled up by buyers who could not afford the homes they were buying. Me being a relatively young feller only recently became financially sound enough to purchase a CA home... right when folks like Rose drove the prices thru the roof. secondly, even though you hosed yourself on the loan terms, you have still greatly benefitted from the housing market. Your home appreciation, due to the same factors described above, over 35 years has likely far outpaced the Dow Jones. My mother-in-law bought in Altadena 35 years ago for $50k. The home is now worth $1.4M. That's a 28x increase while the DJIA has only gone up 13x over the same period. Whether you realize it or not, you've still made out pretty good because of this whole mess.. where first time homebuyers in the 2003 - 2006 time frame have gotten hammered. Should I ask folks like you for a refund? :)
Dan Abendschein (Editor) October 07, 2011 at 05:30 PM
So let me get this straight TF, people like Rose and Leslie who did not scrutinize terms and ended up in bad shape with their mortgages need to just bear through and take responsibility for their actions, but people like you who misjudged the market and paid too much for homes from 2003 to 2006 are victims who don't have to take responsibility for misjudging the real estate market? Am I understanding your logic correctly here or am I missing something?
True Freedom October 07, 2011 at 05:40 PM
You are totally missing something. I took the risk in 2006 feeling that this irrational exuberance in the market was not sustainable. I own that judgment. Even though my home has lost value, I continue to make my payments on-time and in-full. I'm not running around town disrupting workplaces and private residences with picket signs demanding a bailout for this unfair world.
Leslie Aitken October 07, 2011 at 05:52 PM
TF -- I was just like you, made my payments on time and in full.......FOR OVER 25 YEARS. Sometimes things change and you will learn this too. Here is an interesting website: http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com/ There are lots of people and lots of stories, in the words of an 85 year old woman that I know and respect, "Times is tough now for a lot of us."
Dan Abendschein (Editor) October 07, 2011 at 06:08 PM
@TF - I was just suggesting that you were not "screwed" by anybody as you suggested in a post above. I think you, like many other people, simply misjudged the market.... it sounds like you understand this as you say you "own" the judgement. Everybody who overpaid for a home of 2003 and 2006 was part of the "irrational exuberance" of the real estate market.... it makes no sense to blame some people for ramping up the value of homes, but not others. Even if everybody could still afford their mortgage payment and was paying it on time does not necessarily mean your home would not have lost value... at some point you run out of buyers looking to bid up the price further. I sympathize with your desire to own a home... I'm also a young feller only now really able to afford a home in the area. However, my wife and I have decided not to buy at this point, because even with the drastic decline in home prices, we still believe the homes we are seeing are overvalued, and we have better options on the rental market. Since we can rent a home, buying a home is an investment, not a necessity, and must be treated as such.
SteveB October 07, 2011 at 06:42 PM
It wasn't just irrational exuberance, though, was it? What percentage of bad loans resulted from failure to verify income or misrepresenting income (either by the lending institution or the loan applicant)? I don't know to what extent, but it certainly was a contributing factor to the bubble - and the extent this caused prices to be bid up, those who bought in that time period paid more than they should have. The other point of interest from the discussion above - regarding responsibility of individuals - how do we deal with people who don't have the ability to understand the fine print or the differences between a fixed loan and a fixed/adjustable rate hybrid? In a perfect world, the banks/lenders would steer the applicants towards suitable loans, and apply conservative lending principles in approving loans. This appears to be more the situation post-crash, but pre-crash lending practices appear to have been negligent at best, fraudulent at worst. So ... I guess I am in the camp who believes the banks/mortgage lenders shoulder the largest responsibility for the mess we are in.
True Freedom October 07, 2011 at 07:15 PM
my posts were not clear. I totally agree with everything you say here. I guess where I misjudged the market is in how big the correction was (and is). Fortunately, homes in the market segment I bought into fell much, much less than other areas in Pasadena. However, we bought the home as a place to live long term, not as a short term speculation, so we'll ride out the storm.. and hopefully it will all come out in the wash long term.
True Freedom October 07, 2011 at 07:19 PM
people who do not have the ability to understand the terms of their loans deserve to get hammered, in my opinion. People need to know.. that when you sign a contract, you must understand the contract. Now, in the cases where there is outright fraud... like there are fees, etc not specified in the contract... or the actual rate was not the rate in the contract... ok, that's a different story.. but, if you were a doofus that bought a home with zero down, with a monthly payment (plus insurance/taxes) greater than 35% of your take home, had no savings to weather a storm, took a home equity line of credit, had negative amortization, etc... then you dug your own hole and you should just curl up in it.
True Freedom October 07, 2011 at 07:24 PM
Yes times are tough. Yes there are people who are going thru bad times. Times were really tough when I graduated college, too. I was dirt poor eating bargain rack stale bread with pizza sauce and no cheese as a pizza. Only 10% of my graduating class (from a top ten engineering school) were able to find work at graduation. Housing prices were already ridiculous. Where my objections lie is bailing out people (AND corporations) who made BAD decisions. It seems if people make a gamble and they win.. we let them keep the earnings. If people gamble and they lose, they kick/scream/cry, blame others and demand a bailout. This is my problem. We should have let GM fail, the banks fails, and Rose Gudiel fail.
Gary Edwards October 07, 2011 at 07:56 PM
i'd at least turn on my sprinklers if protesters were on my lawn.
Steve Lamb October 07, 2011 at 09:01 PM
Steve B- BRILLIANT!!! The biggest contributing factor to the real estate inflation and irrational exuberance of consumers was the irrational behavior of the banks themselves. WHAT SANE BANKER ADVERTISES NO DOC 120% LOAN TO VALUE LOANS??? COME ONE NOW!!! And during that time I was getting two three and four calls from bank call centers in India a day DEMANDING I take one of those silly loans. True I didn't take one, because I understand that someday someone has to pay it back, but there were times when I really needed the money and it was tough to not believe my $100,000 house wasn't worth the $550,000 the Indian banker was insisting it was worth. After my issues were over with,and I didn't need the money,I almost felt like a total heel not refinancing and taking my wife on exotic vacations, and buying her piles of electronic crap and a SUV with the equity in our home,just like everyone else was doing with their loans... But my deep down sanity resisted the siren call...But man those Indian bankers even got pissed at me on the phone not taking tghe loan. We have to remember that part of the picture and put the blame where it should go- on the banking industry
Steve Lamb October 07, 2011 at 09:09 PM
Industries that write profoundly insane loans with no demands for documentation of income and no down payment deserve what they get when the market turns south. The problem is they twice in my lifetime haven't gotten it. Instead all the little people got to bail them out. This is what the whole occupy Wall Street movement is about. we have a Society that is pure socialism for the corporations and wealthy and nothing but nature red of tooth and claw for the 99% of the population that is the rest of us. What the occupy Wall Street people want is a just society where either everybody or nobody gets bailed out. Where we can all fail because we Fed up, or all be rescued because we Fed up. Not a society where the rich and the large corporations can not fail no matter how hard they try and the rest of us get to bail them out over and over again. A society where Congress pony's up for disaster relief to main street as easily and thoughtlessly as it does to Wall Street, or where when Wall Street needs a bail out, we start talking about cutting programs that benefit the 1% to make up the new cost. Frankly, I can't understand how even the bone brains on the evening news are so dense they can't understand that.
doris finch October 08, 2011 at 12:00 AM
What isn't being included in the discussion here is that unlike in times past, the banks had no stake in the security of the loans they wrote. Those loans were made for the purpose of bundling and selling to speculators who bought and sold the bundles on the financial markets as if they were pork bellies. It was a highly cynical abstract derivative market without consideration of any human element. If, as it used to be, the bank had to be fully responsible for securing its loaned-out money, you can be sure that loans would be tailored to the ability of the borrower to repay.
True Freedom October 08, 2011 at 12:33 AM
What also isn't being mentioned is that there are many homeowners who benefited from the run-up in housing prices
SteveB October 08, 2011 at 01:50 AM
Anyone who sold and bought a home at a price greater than their sale price did not benefit, as any gains would have been needed to purchase the new home. With an increase in property taxes, they actually "lose". Anyone with enough foresight to move from home ownership to renting wins - and I can only think of one person I know who did that, with the ideal of home ownership being so ingrained in our society.
terry Morris October 08, 2011 at 02:52 AM
I was raised in Berkeley, my parents were union organizers in the 50's, civil war activists in the 60's. I went to my first demonstration/march when I was five. I went to my first anti war march when I was eleven. I have marched with the Black Panthers, the farm workers, marched against Iraq, walked many a picket line. I have been clubbed and gassed. But I learned from my activist parents that you don't go to someone's home, you do not terrorize their families. Those are the tactics you are fighting against, not using yourself. "Bringing the War Home" did NOT mean standing in anyone's front yard. It meant marching in the streets, it meant standing in front of Dow Chemical and the White House. I agree with everything else you say about our economic policies. But I will never support pitchforks or burning houses. The ends do not justify the means, and becoming like the oppressor wins nothing.
Lori A. Webster October 08, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Very good response, Terry - I agree!
Lori A. Webster October 08, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Doris is absolutely correct. Before Scott and I became owners of a retail store here in Altadena, I supervised the Foreclosure/Bankruptcy/REO department at First Interstate Mortgage, just down the street on Los Robles & Cordova (before we moved to L.A.). I was training to become an underwriter and spent a lot of time with that department learning the ropes. I know that from inception to doc signing, from funding to shipping the loan (to FNMA, FHLMC or other institutional lenders), the majority were tailored to "fit" the requirements. I heard and saw so much nonsense that when FIMC was bought out by Wells Fargo and we were all laid off, I never went back into the mortgage banking business. Personally, we bought my deceased parents' home in 1998, so the loan was modest. We took out a HELOC to fix it up and all was good in the world. Then, we bought our store, the economy dived and we haven't paid ourselves for over a year and are unable to make the payments. Our loan documents didn't lie - we were able to cover payments then but the circumstances changed, and this is now. Times me by ten million - we are the 99%.
Steve Lamb October 08, 2011 at 04:40 PM
Terry- well you are incorrect. Protests in the 1960's were regularly conducted both by the Panthers and the VVAW were regularly conducted on people's lawns. There were four conducted on McNamara's lawn alone, and many others. I don't say I endorse this, but a just society as I said before is not a subsidy tot he middle class and poor. Its a subsidy to the rich and powerful, as Bismark once explained. Its what keeps starving, desperate peasants (thats us) from encamping on the estate lawns, burning down the palace, rental properties, and factories, raping the wives and daughters and killing the sons.... that anyway was Bismark's thought when he first developed the national welfare semi socialist state....
terry Morris October 08, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Yes, there were people who did all sorts of things, including protesting on some peoples's lawns. But it was not endorsed by the movement as a whole, and one could argue that the majority of leaders were opposed to it. There was a lot of dissension amongst the ranks about which tactics went too far. That might account for the fact that there were only 4 conducted on Macnamara's lawn. Even within the SDS there was incredible dissension about tactics, with those who felt that the ends justified the means (including fatal casualties), broke off to form the Weather Underground, a very small group, relatively speaking. But that was never the primary focus, nor tactic of the civil rights or anti war movements, because those tactics would alienate the working class, and labor. Which it did, turning those groups firmly away and into the waiting arms of Richard Nixon and the Republican Party, where they remain to this day. Those hot headed, childish, pseudo revolutionaries (many of who are now Wall Street execs), dealt possibly a fatal blow to the left in this country. The working class and much of labor continue to vote against their own interests, now a couple of generations in the pockets of the Republican Party. I stand by my statement that "Bring The War Home" did not mean to some banking executive's family home, nor to the front window of a local grocery store, or a shoe repair shop. It meant to the streets, to the National Mall, to the White House to the Induction Centers
Steve Lamb October 09, 2011 at 12:21 AM
And yes, the weathermen had disagreements as to tactics. Some wanting to continue public and lawn type of protest and some idiots wanting to blow things up.

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