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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

California cities allowed to form public banks

State Issues State Legislation CDBO

State Issues

On October 2, the California governor signed AB 857 to authorize the creation of “public banks” in the state to support local economies, community development, and address infrastructure and housing needs for localities. Under AB 857, public banks are defined as “a corporation, organized as either a nonprofit mutual benefit corporation or a nonprofit public benefit corporation for the purpose of engaging in the commercial banking business or industrial banking business, that is wholly owned by a local agency, as specified, local agencies, or a joint powers authority.”

Among other things, cities who submit applications to the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) to obtain a certificate of authorization will be required to provide a viability study, as well comply with “[a]ll provisions of law applicable to nonprofit corporations” and obtain deposit insurance through the FDIC. AB 857 also requires “a local agency that is not a charter city to obtain voter approval of a motion to submit an application to the [DBO].” The number of new public bank licenses the DBO is authorized to approve is limited to two per calendar year, with no more than 10 public banks operating at any time. In addition, public banks may only offer products to retail customers through partnerships with existing financial institutions, and are barred from competing with local financial institutions. AB 857 expires seven years after regulations under this law are promulgated.

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