SF Gate – March 15, 2022. A vision for a public bank in the East Bay– and possibly only the second one in the country– got a boost Tuesday when Alameda County Supervisors voted to give $75,000 to a group aiming to start one.
Supervisors voted unanimously to give the money to Friends of the Public Bank East Bay, which has already taken steps to start a bank. (Supervisor Richard Valle was excused from the meeting.)
The money from the supervisors is for planning activities, according to a letter to the board from Supervisor Dave Brown. The money is coming from Brown’s fiscal management reward funds.
“A public bank would provide many public benefits to the community,” Brown wrote. “It would create a long-term multigenerational source of capital for East Bay communities, and would cut infrastructure construction costs significantly by providing low-interest loans.”
Brown added that such a bank “would return profit and interest to local communities and bring transparency and democracy to banking and investment of public funds. Lastly, a public bank would help strengthen local banks and credit unions by backing their loans and letters of credit.”
Friends of the Public Bank East Bay have already completed a viability study for a public bank, according to the group’s website. A viability study is a necessary step under the California Public Banking Act.
The California Public Banking Act was established by Assembly Bill 857 and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019. The law enables government entities to form public banks.
Friends of the Public Bank East Bay are now working on a business plan, another step in the process required by law.