Will San Francisco Be The First City To Launch A Public Bank?

Will San Francisco Be The First City To Launch A Public Bank?

Above Photo: courtesy S.F. Examiner

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San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors released a new report last week that puts SF strongly in the running for the first city in the nation to launch a Public Bank. As the San Francisco Examiner explains, Supervisors Malia Cohen and Sandra Fewer are advancing the idea of establishing a municipal bank, which would end The City’s use of profit-driven large national commercial banks for banking services. 

As Wall Street financial institutions come under increasing fire for their continued stream of fraud scandals and perpetual investments in dirty fuel, Public Banks are rapidly gaining traction as an ethical and profitable solution. “Within a few years, the municipal bank should be able to generate sufficient revenue to be able to cover its costs and serve as the primary financial institution for The City,” the report said.

The report also confirmed San Francisco has the legal authority to establish a Public Bank.

After reviewing State codes in detail, the City Attorney’s Office concluded that “State law does not preclude the City from creating a bank as a separate entity.” In fact, “a public bank serving a public purpose would be supported by case law.”

The report suggested a municipal bank could launch and make loans in the first year starting with its initial equity, and “gradually build up its assets as loans are repaid with interest and new loans are originated.”

The report follows a resolution, approved in April, to create a Municipal Bank Feasibility Task Force. That resolution cites Public Banking Institute right at the top, so we’re pleased to see our work assisting these elected officials.

NEXT STEPS

The San Francisco Retirement Board is expected to discuss the fossil fuel divestment vote this month. 

The application process to serve on the Municipal Bank Feasibility Task Force is now open, with a Dec 22 deadline to apply. Interested applicants can apply here

The Tax Collector has hired a new staff member to help study a Public Bank.

A hearing on the report’s findings — requested by Fewer and Cohen last week — is expected to occur early next year in conjunction with the formation of the Municipal Bank City Task Force.

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