Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks Tuesday at the Engineering and Cyber Security Workforce Development Summit at Cal Poly Pomona. (Will Lester/Staff Photographer)

Beau Yarbrough, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/09/2012 06:10:55 PM PDT

POMONA – Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom doesn’t know if he agrees with eminent-domain powers being used to buy up the mortgages of homeowners who owe more than their homes are worth – but he applauds the experiment.

San Bernardino County and the cities of Fontana and Ontario formed a regional group in April that may use eminent domain in a new way.

Eminent domain is an often-controversial legal power used to seize properties for the public good, typically to secure right-of-way from property owners asking for more than market value for land wanted for civic improvement projects.

The joint-powers authority may use eminent domain to buy up “underwater” mortgages and replace them with more affordable new mortgages.

The move would be intended to head off foreclosures in a region where more than half of homes are either worth less than the mortgages owed on them or are being foreclosed upon.

“I like the ability for local government and municipalities to impact their local communities in a positive way,” Newsom said Tuesday, during a visit to Cal Poly Pomona.

The lieutenant governor was at the university for a summit that brought together cyber- security companies and educators.

On Sept. 10, Newsom sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, calling on the Department of Justice to investigate threats of retaliatory action by the mortgage industry.

To read entire story, click here.