Brett Garrett, Santa Cruz

Cities such as Oakland and Los Angeles are eager to divest from large banks that invest in fossil fuels or engage in unethical business practices. These cities can benefit from Assemblyman David Chiu’s Assembly Bill 857, which will establish a framework for licensing public banks, owned by local or regional government entities.

Public banks under AB 857 must meet the same standards as a commercial bank, including collateralization and FDIC insurance. Because a small agency could not meet those standards, Dan Walters’ claim that AB 857 would allow “the tiniest mosquito abatement or water district” to set up a bank is incorrect.

Public banks under AB 857 cannot compete against community banks. Instead, community banks could expand their services by partnering with a public bank—quite the opposite of Walters’ claim. Community banks thrive in the state of North Dakota which has operated its own public bank for 100 years.

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