Los Angeles Advances on the First Municipal Public Bank in the United States

by Public Bank LA
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The Los Angeles municipal bank would be the largest publicly held municipal bank in the nation. It will create a socially responsible and publicly accountable source of capital for investment in public goods, small businesses, and green infrastructure.

LOS ANGELES, California — The Los Angeles City Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst (CLA) released a Request for Proposal (RFP) seeking consultants to author a viability study and business plan for a proposed Los Angeles public bank. This RFP issuance represents the culmination of a historic effort to realign the city’s financial infrastructure with its values and the pressing needs of its nearly four million residents. Once complete, this plan will outline next steps for Los Angeles to establish a public bank via a state-issued charter.

The City is seeking proposals from organizations with knowledge of municipal finance and modeling social finance entities and experience engaging directly with stakeholders to set the priorities and principles of their financial institution. The RFP directs applicants to propose how they would evaluate the existing banking market in Los Angeles, including the current federal compliance of local banks and performance in banking City funds. Applicants will assess a public banking model along financial, risk, operational, and business lines, estimating startup and staffing costs, governance structures, capitalization, strategy and financial projections. In a second phase, applicants will develop a statement of purpose for the bank and complete an application to the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI), the state’s banking regulator and chartering agency.

Los Angeles City Council voted on October 5, 2021 to direct the CLA to issue the RFP after the council’s Economic Development and Jobs Committee chaired by Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price, ratified the amended motion originally proposed by Councilmember Herb Wesson. The motion expanded the Request for Proposals to include requirements described in Assembly Bill 857, the California Public Banking Act, a 2019 state law permitting the chartering of public banks by cities and counties to support community economic development and address infrastructure and housing needs for localities.

Read our press release on Medium.

 

 

A World Where Finance Is Democratic

by Public Bank LA
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By Michael McCarthy, Berggruen Institute Fellow for Noema Magazine. 

It’s the year 2043 and you’re running late for a meeting that will shape the future of the place you live.

You’re riding Los Angeles’ new electric speed rail instead of driving on congested freeways, because a new democratic process for allocating funds has completely reshaped the city in recent years. You step off the train in the Public Finance District, where the streets were converted into pedestrian zones after huge investments in transportation eliminated the need for cars downtown.

The cleanliness of the sidewalks would have come as a shock even 10 years ago. Gone are the days when people with nowhere else to go lived on them. Instead, the city has allocated finance into public housing and health projects that have gone a long way toward solving the problems of the city’s worst off.

Today, you have a chance to participate in the process that helped these changes come to be. You pull out your phone to check the message you received months ago: “Minipublic Duty Notification: You have been selected at random to participate in the citizen assembly for the People’s Bank of Los Angeles in its Green Futures division. The assembly will make decisions about financing that will determine what green public goods our city will invest in in the future. Your voice and judgement are essential.” So you pick up the pace, heading in the direction of the public bank.

This vision of the future can become a reality by democratizing finance. Finance capitalism has generated a litany of social ills: tremendous upward redistribution, stagnant growth, increased worker precarity, macroeconomic instability and the hastening of ecological demise. When we look to the failures of global coordination, finance seems to always be right there, holding the smoking gun — or financing its sale and the pulling of its trigger.

Continue reading on Noema Magazine

Californians Need A “Bank of Good”

by Public Bank LA
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Public banking is on a roll! People across the nation are turning out to learn more about public banking — and Californians are at the forefront of making public banks a reality for the first time in generations. Public banking activists, politicians and financial experts are busy producing viability studies and business plans so that public banks can come online in the near future.

On Wednesday March 30, 2022, over 170 community members joined the California Public Banking Alliance (CPBA) Town Hall featuring elected officials from cities and regions actively working to form public banks. They see public banks as a powerful tool to keep taxpayer dollars reinvested in local communities. We’re grateful for the leadership provided by legislators from five cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Long Beach, Richmond, and Santa Cruz) joining us to discuss their commitment to making public funds work for the public by their courageous efforts to establish local public banks.

If you missed last week’s town hall, 

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Thank you to all participants for joining in a robust town hall chat. We’ve added answers to your questions and comments in this document.

Read our event wrap-up on the CPBA Medium page.

Lend your skills and talents to put an end to Wall Street greed and join the historic efforts to create the Public Bank of Los Angeles and the first municipal public bank in the nation! 

Fill out our Organizer Form.