Who We Are


To encourage and support the development of socially and environmentally responsible city, county, and regional public banks in California. Each of these public banks will support the economic development of its region and follow transparent, ethical, sustainable, and regenerative investment guidelines; strengthen existing financial institutions through its partnership with local community banks and credit unions; and serve the needs of its entire community by ensuring the meaningful participation of their underserved members.


Public banking serves as a powerful tool to keep taxpayer dollars in local communities. Cities and counties currently hold billions of dollars of public money in Wall Street banks. Legally, these corporate banks control this money and can use it for strictly profit-motivated purposes, without regard for environmental impacts, social good, or betterment of the local economy that provided the funds. Their investments prioritize harmful industries including private prisons, immigrant detention centers, weapons manufacturers, fossil fuel pipelines, and other investments that place profit over small local businesses, regional infrastructure such as public housing and recreation, and care for the planet. These too-big-to-fail banks engage in risky and fraudulent practices similar to or worse than those that crashed the global economy in 2008.

The California Public Banking Alliance (CPBA) is a coalition of public banking activists in California founded in 2018 to create socially and environmentally responsible city and regional public banks. Public banking advocates in Los Angeles, San Francisco, the East Bay, South SF Bay, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, Humboldt-Eureka, the Central Coast, and San Diego worked together to write and pass AB 857, the California Public Banking Act, in 2019. This legislation made California the first state in the nation to authorize the chartering of municipal public banks.

Since the passage of AB 857, multiple local governments including San Francisco, Los Angeles, the Central Coast, and the East Bay, have passed legislation to move forward with implementing public banks in their localities. We have the opportunity now to build a new alternative banking system through locally-controlled socially and environmentally responsible public banks, enabling cities and counties to recapture public dollars and have a say over the financing of our own communities.

Beyond banking municipalities, CPBA is also working to bring essential financial services to the 25% of unbanked and underbanked Californians. AB 1177, the Public Banking Option Act (CalAccount), signed into law by Governor Newsom in October 2021, will begin the process of offering fee-free and penalty-free debit cards to all Californians making available basic financial services such as check cashing, deposits and bill paying.

In addition to our work at the local and state-level, CPBA is also involved with federal legislation to support public banking. The Public Banking Act, a 2021 bill co-sponsored by Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) would make it easier for states and local governments to form public banks.