One of the world’s largest banks is about to join the digital mortgage revolution, as HSBC Bank USA, the U.S. arm of HSBC Group, announced that it is partnering with Roostify to launch a digital mortgage platform. The move to go digital is part of an expansion plan for HSBC in the U.S.
Q: A bad car accident resulted in life altering injuries. The insurance of the party at fault is not nearly enough, and we think the intersection is very unsafe. How do we go about making a claim that this dangerous intersection was a key cause of the accident?
Ron SokolA: There are data bases that keep track of accidents on various highways and streets in California. For example, the Transportation Injury Mapping System, available on the internet. Word of mouth may be helpful — talking with persons familiar with the location.
Consultation with a qualified expert also is suggested. The expert may have important details about the site, as well be able to evaluate the danger(s) there.
Keep in mind, however, that if a governmental entity maintains or controls the intersection, there is a very limited time frame by which to give notice of your claim. Thus, promptly consulting or hiring a lawyer familiar with these kinds of cases is advisable.
Q: I was on my bike, which flipped over due to a poorly maintained sidewalk. I am told the City “will vigorously defend itself” against my claims (my arm was broken). How can they deny the risky condition there?
A: One common defense to injuries associated with a defective or dangerous sidewalk is known as the “open and obvious doctrine.” This places responsibility on the injured person if the sidewalk hazard was open, obvious, and easily avoidable.
The city also can claim it did not have notice of the problem (eg., the danger recently arose and the city did not know, nor was it required to check the sidewalk at each and every moment). These are just two of the arguments the city may make to try to deflect liability.
Q: I filed a claim against the county but never heard. It has been over two months. Now what?
A: Typically, a claim against a government entity is deemed rejected within a specific amount of time (such as 45 days). You can then sue. Note that you likely have a deadline to file your lawsuit within six months from the rejection, whether your claim was actually rejected, or is deemed rejected after a specific passage of time.
Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach attorney with more than 35 years of experience. His column, which appears on in print on Wednesdays, presents a summary of the law and should not be construed as legal advice. Email questions and comments to him at RonSEsq@aol.com or write to him at Ask the Lawyer, Daily Breeze, 21250 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 170, Torrance, CA 90503.
It’s fairly well known at this point that San Francisco is one of the country’s (if not the world’s) craziest housing markets. Houses there are incredibly expensive, and only getting more so. Heck, even ramshackle San Francisco shacks are listed for $2.5 million. But, now, there’s a way for people to buy a house in San Francisco for as much as $1.75 million with no down payment.
By Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday that the Federal Reserve is prepared to respond if it decides the Trump administration’s trade conflicts are threatening the U.S. economy. Investors read his remarks as a signal that the Fed will likely cut interest rates later this year.
Powell’s remarks helped drive up stock prices, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending the day up more than 500 points, or 2 percent.
Speaking at a Fed conference in Chicago, Powell said, “We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the U.S. economic outlook and, as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.”
Powell didn’t explicitly say what the Fed would do. But expectations are rising that the Fed will cut rates at least once and possibly two or more times before year’s end, in part because of the consequences of the trade war. There is concern the U.S. expansion, which next month will become the longest on record, could face growing risks of a recession as retaliatory tariffs weaken U.S. exports.
Investors in the futures market are pricing in a 59 percent chance of a Fed rate cut by July.
Also Tuesday, Vice Chairman Richard Clarida declined to speculate on the possibility of a Fed rate cut that soon but said in an interview with CNBC, “We will put in policies that need to be in place” to sustain the economic expansion.
James Bullard, head of the Fed’s St. Louis bank, had said on Monday that a Fed rate cut “may be warranted soon,” in part because of potential risks from trade uncertainties.
Trump has imposed far-reaching tariffs on imports on China, which has retaliated with tariffs of its own on U.S. exports. He has also threatened to impose an escalating series of tariffs against Mexico unless it stops a flow of migrants from Central America into the U.S. At a news conference in London, President Donald Trump reiterated that his import taxes on Mexican goods will take effect next week at a level of 5%, rising to a peak of 25% until Mexico complies with his demand to cut off Central America migration.
The Fed conference in Chicago is focused on how the central bank can make its rate policy more effective at a time when inflation has remained chronically below the Fed’s target level. In his remarks, Powell called persistently low inflation the “pre-eminent monetary policy challenge of our time,” because it limits the Fed’s ability to support the economy by cutting rates.
Powell said that in its first-ever public review of its operations, the Fed will aim to improve its rate strategies, the tools it uses to achieve its objectives and the way it communicates its actions to the public.
A new proposal introduced by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, could eliminate up to $50,000 worth of student loan debt for the average American. Under Warren’s proposal, the typical aspiring first-time homebuyer burdened with student debt could save for a down payment in just nine years, according to Redfin.
Southern California house prices increased by the smallest margin in seven years during the first three months of the year, two reports confirmed Tuesday, May 28.
The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index reported prices were up 1.3% in the Los Angeles-Orange County region as of March. That’s the smallest housing appreciation rate for the two counties since July 2012.
L.A.-Orange County tied San Diego for lowest house-price gain among 20 U.S. metro areas tracked. San Francisco’s price gain was 1.4% as of March, third lowest.
Case-Shiller is a “repeat sales” index based on the average price gains for the most recent three months. It is derived by comparing single-family home prices to each home’s previous sale price.
Other housing reports out already show Southern California home prices leveling off after a year of annual sales declines. And the house-price cooldown is a national trend.
Both the 20-city composite index and the national index also recorded the smallest price gains since 2012.
“The patterns seen in the last year or more continue: Year-over-year price gains in most cities are consistently shrinking. Double-digit annual gains have vanished,” said David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Index Committee.
Given the broader economic picture, Blitzer said, housing should be doing better. Mortgage rates for 30-year, fixed-rate loans are near 4%, unemployment is close to a 50-year low, incomes are showing moderate increases and inflation is low.
“The difficulty facing housing may be too-high price increases,” he said.
Another housing yardstick also released May 28 — indexes from the Federal Housing Finance Agency — showed a similar slowdown. This math includes information from appraisals used to approve mortgage refinancings.
For Los Angeles County, FHFA found 5.8% year-over-year gains in the first quarter. That ranked No. 109 out of 241 metros tracked. The Inland Empire had 5.7% one-year gains, No. 117 nationally. And Orange County values were up 4%, No. 170. All were the lowest readings since the end of 2012.
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Both Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase are in the middle of digital revolutions of their respective mortgage businesses. And apparently Wells Fargo liked Chase’s approach so much that the company is hiring away one of the leaders of Chase’s mortgage tech transformation.
The leaders of the FHA, VA, USDA and Ginnie Mae who spoke on the government lending update panel at the MBA Secondary Conference on Tuesday are well aware that lenders and investors find working with their agencies discouragingly hard. Their session reflected the work they’re doing to change that experience, and outlined important policy revisions.
Amazon is turning warehouse work into a competitive game while looking toward a future in which robots with steel talons do the labor.
The e-commerce behemoth led by CEO Jeff Bezos is running an experiment in several warehouses, involving thousands of “pickers” and “stowers” whose labors are incorporated into video games in a process called “gamification,” according to a Washington Post report.
“Some compete by racing virtual dragons or sports cars around a track, while others collaborate to build castles piece by piece,” writes the newspaper, which is owned by Bezos. “They’re racing to fill customer orders, their progress reflected in a video game format. The games simultaneously register the completion of … (a) task, which is tracked by scanning devices, and can pit individuals, teams or entire floors against one another to be fastest.”
Participation is optional, the paper reported. “The company said it doesn’t monitor game results or penalize workers for not participating,” according to the Post. “However, warehouse workers are tracked carefully for speed, efficiency and other factors, and those who underperform can be fired or reassigned.
“And if the games are helping to push workers to be more productive, it could make those who eschew them appear to be straggling.”
Amazon’s gamification experiment started at a single warehouse in 2017 and is now underway at five of the company’s “fulfillment” facilities. The Post didn’t offer specifics on which warehouses were involved.
“The games are a response to worker complaints that Amazon’s push for more automation has made laborers feel like cogs in a bigger machine, as they increasingly work alongside robots,” according to the Post.
The newspaper report also noted other firms have launched similar gamification initiatives.
“Uber and Lyft have mastered gamification in an effort to keep drivers on the road longer, generally by dangling cash rewards for completing seemingly arbitrary goals, such as 60 rides in a week or 20 more miles,” according to the paper.
“Target has used games to encourage cashiers to scan products more quickly, and Delta Air Lines used them to help train reservation agents.”
Turning labor into a game works best with boring tasks, a gamification consultant told the Post. “Anything to reduce the drudgery, even the smallest amount, is going to give a bump to workers’ happiness,” Gabe Zichermann told the paper.
However, for workers playing the games, the novelty can quickly wear off, video game designer Jane McGonigal, who has studied gamification, told the Post.
“As soon as workers start underperforming against their colleagues, it becomes less fun and can actually be counterproductive,” McGonigal said.
Another recent report suggested that thousands of Amazon warehouse workers are fired every year for “failing to move packages quickly enough.” The report by tech website The Verge also said workers’ productivity is tracked using automated systems, and if they fall far enough behind on their work, they’re sacked by automated systems.
Amazon, which according to the Post employs more than a quarter million people in its U.S. warehouses, is busily working to automate warehouse work. It has deployed an army of goods-moving robots in warehouses, and has run robot-making contests to promote development of “picking” and “stowing” machines. On Tuesday, it received another in a series of patents for robotic appendages for manipulating products in warehouses.
The Seattle firm’s newly patented “finger assembly” is intended to be attached to a robotic arm, and has a retractable talon, which could be made of steel or plastic, according to the patent document.
“The talon in the extended position is adapted to at least partially support a load from an item lifted by the robotic arm,” the document from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said.
A patent does not necessarily lead to deployment of a particular technology, so whether robots with talons end up working in Amazon’s warehouses remains to be seen. The company has told this news organization that its tens of thousands of robotic movers have helped it expand its business and hire many more workers.Related Articles
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The e-scooters are here to stay, Long Beach.
The City Council voted at its Tuesday, May 14 meeting to approve an ordinance that would permanently allow the vehicles to roam Long Beach streets — and could more than triple their numbers.
Scooters are currently operating under a pilot program in Long Beach, which the city launched in July. Under the pilot, 1,800 scooters are allowed in the city. But the permanent program will increase that number to 4,000 for the first six months and move to 6,000 after that.
The unanimous vote was a first reading and will come back to the panel for a final reading at its meeting next week. If the council approves it once more, the ordinance will go into effect 30 days later.
The long-term program will allow up to six companies to operate in Long Beach. Currently, scooters from five companies are available: Bird, Lime, Spin, Skip and Razor.
Uscooter previously operated in the pilot program but has since dropped out.
Public Works Director Craig Beck said those scooter companies will not get any type of priority or favorable treatment in the permanent program. Every company, including those already running in Long Beach, will have to submit a new application.
Companies will be chosen on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as they are able to meet all of the city’s requirements. Beck added that the program was written so as not to be limited to electric scooters; companies that rent electric bikes could be eligible to operate in the program, as well.
One of the requirements that vendors will have to adhere to that was not included in the pilot program is the ability to geo-fence, or use technology in the scooters to prevent them from being ridden in areas where they’re prohibited, like in parks or on the beach path.
Companies will also be required to provide comprehensive monthly reports to the city that includes data on how many scooters are being used, where they’re being used, how long trips are and more.
As part of the vote, City Councilman Rex Richardson said he wanted to make sure the program is an equitable one, where scooters and bikes are accessible to all Long Beach residents.
He said the city’s bike share program did not include measures to ensure the bikes made their way up to his district in North Long Beach, so that never happened.
“The lesson I’ve learned,” he said, “is we need to put these things in the policy on Day One.”
Richardson said he’d like to see companies be required to distribute 40% of their scooters in parts of the city that are shown to be the most affected by pollution through CalEnviroScreen ratings.
In addition to having a better understanding of how companies are operating in the city, Beck said the program would also equip Long Beach with more tools to enforce rules like the one Richardson proposed.
The idea of informing the vendors about the city’s regulations when they apply and assessing their applications based on those rules, Beck said, is to tell them: “If you want to operate in Long Beach,” he said, “this is what you’re going to have to comply with.”
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