In June 2023, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved moving forward with funding the Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire consultants to author the feasibility study and business plan for a proposed Los Angeles public bank. The 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 the next steps for Los Angeles to establish a public bank via a state-issued charter. 

The Jain Family Institute (JFI) and the Berggruen Institute collaborated to develop comprehensive models for the Los Angeles public bank’s lending initiatives. These models encompass various critical areas, such as affordable housing, green energy, small businesses, governance, and financial justice. These reports serve as a guiding framework for the Los Angeles public bank to effectively allocate resources and support social and environmental progress in the city. The JFI and Berggruen Los Angeles municipal public bank briefings were published in May 2023.

After the historic Measure B campaign that saw over 430,000 Angelenos voting yes on a Los Angeles public bank, Public Bank LA became a founding member of the California Public Banking Alliance which sponsored and spearheaded the landmark Public Banking Act, Assembly Bill 857. This legislation empowered California cities, counties, and regions to form their own public banks, which are accountable to local communities and state regulations rather than Wall Street profit mandates. AB 857 was made law and cleared the way for Los Angeles to start a bank without a ballot measure. Public Bank LA’s work focuses on the City of Los Angeles and the broader LA area.

Public Bank Los Angeles followed our first victory by helping pass California’s second public banking bill, the Public Banking Option Act (AB 1177), signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in October 2021. AB 1177 creates the CalAccount Blue Ribbon Commission tasked with producing a market analysis of the CalAccount program. Upon implementation, CalAccount will provide free, universal financial services to unbanked and underbanked Californians. The Commission, which is chaired by California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, convened in September 2022 and meets on a monthly basis. CalAccount 2023 meetings are accessible to the public, and the agendas are available on the Treasurer’s website.

These legislative victories will bring responsible banking services to municipalities and the general public, ensuring that cities can redirect scarce public dollars to fund essential services and enabling people to shape the economic development of their communities. They will also help to eliminate racial and economic inequalities by guaranteeing universal access to essential banking services.