Who We Are

 

OUR MISSION:

To establish a socially and environmentally chartered municipal Los Angeles Public Bank to develop the local economy and provide fair and equitable financial services for the city, businesses, and residents. The Los Angeles Public Bank will support the economic development of the Los Angeles 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 Los Angeles communities by ensuring the meaningful participation of underserved members. 

WHO WE ARE:

Public Bank Los Angeles (PBLA) is a volunteer initiative founded in 2017 to create a socially and environmentally responsible municipal bank for the City of Los Angeles. Public Bank LA evolved from Divest LA, a nationally recognized grassroots movement which succeeded in divesting Wells Fargo from the City of Los Angeles' commercial banking services. The movement was rooted in the DefundDAPL phenomenon and resistance from all vulnerable communities victimized by unethical banking practices. The Divest LA Change.org petition to LA City Council was signed by nearly 38,700 supporters.

In 2018, Public Bank LA led Measure B, a Los Angeles ballot initiative to amend a section in the LA city charter to take the first steps towards the creation of a municipal public bank. With only four months to organize and less than 1/10 of the average budget needed to win a city-wide initiative, the measure did not pass but received 44% of votes in approval, with over 430,000 Angelenos supporting the ballot.

In 2019, Public Bank LA, a founding member of the California Public Banking Alliance (CPBA), passed Assembly Bill 857, empowering California cities, counties and regions to form public banks. AB 857 was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 2, 2019, legalizing public banking in California for the first time in history. This was the first legislation passed in modern times authorizing municipalities to set up their own public banks.

During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, Public Bank LA and the California Public Banking Alliance collaborated on a State Public Bank bill to expand the existing California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) and increase its capacity for recovery lending for small business and community development infrastructure. In October 2021, Public Bank LA led the advocacy efforts behind Los Angeles City Council's unanimous vote to move forward with creating a viability study and business plan for the LA public bank.

Beyond banking municipalities, Public Bank LA helped pass AB 1177, the CA Public Banking Option Act, with co-sponsor SEIU California, in the 2021 legislative session. AB 1177 (CalAccount) was signed into law by Governor Newsom in October 2021 and 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. PBLA is also working with Congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the re-introduction of the federal Public Banking Act, a bill that would make it easier for states and local governments to form public banks.