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SF Supes Approve Plan To Create First Public Bank In U.S.

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN/CBS SF) -- San Francisco's Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that moves the city closer to creating the first public bank in the U.S.

The Reinvest in SF ordinance, authored by Supervisor Dean Preston, creates a working group of community leaders and financial experts to come up with a business plan to submit to the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation for approval.

In addition to a business plan, the group will also come up with a timeline for the city to apply for a public banking license.

"The pandemic has laid bare the deep disparities that exist along social, economic, and racial lines," Preston said. "As we chart a path to economic recovery, we need to look beyond corporate banks that prey on our most vulnerable communities."

According to Preston, a public bank would allow the city to reinvest millions of its revenues toward initiatives that support working San Franciscans, including economic recovery, affordable housing, green infrastructure and small business loans.

Of the nine seats on the working group, three will be held by experts with financial institutions, four by community representatives and one each by representatives from the city's Controller and Treasurer's offices, according to Preston's office.

Organizers, including previous supervisors, have been advocating for a public banking system in San Francisco for nearly a decade. In 2019, Assembly Bill 857, the Public Banking Act, authored by state Assemblymembers David Chiu, D-San Francisco, and Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, became the first legislation to provide framework for municipalities to establish public banks.

Preston first introduced the ordinance to create the working group in January.

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