Public Bank Bill, Rejected By L.A. Voters, Introduced in Sacramento

Monday, March 11, 2019

By My News LA

Although his efforts to lead the creation of a public bank in Los Angeles fizzled out when voters rejected the proposal in November, City Council President Herb Wesson expressed support Monday for state legislation that seeks to develop a public banking system in California.

Wesson said he envisioned that a local public bank would “give small loans to small entrepreneurs, a bank that’s main bottom line is going to be to make our community a better place.”

The push to create a public bank was first proposed by Wesson in 2017, and a City Council committee held several meeting on the topic before the question was put to Los Angeles voters in November but only received about 44 percent support.

Many of the key details on how or if the city could actually create its own bank remained unanswered going into the November election. Wesson’s City Council motion on creating the bank acknowledged the uncertainty, noting, “There are many milestones that must be met in order to achieve the formation of a municipal bank. Changes in federal and state law are necessary and significant decisions regarding the governance structure of a municipal bank must be made.”

Santiago’s bill, which is co-authored by Assemblyman David Chu, D-San Francisco, would allow public banks to engage in both banking and real estate activities, but the public bank would be required to partner with a private bank to provide retail services.

The public bank could provide affordable loans and lines of credit to local businesses and nonprofits, and fund public infrastructure projects such as rebuilding after wildfires, Santiago’s office said.