Release: Councilmember Carroll FIfe Moves The City of Oakland Towards Establishing a Public Bank and the Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District (EIFD), Legislation Passes

Date Posted: December 20th, 2022 @ 3:51 PM
Last Updated: January 12th, 2023 @ 4:04 PM

Oakland, CA - During the December 20th Oakland City Council meeting, elected officials accepted the viability study for The Public Bank East Bay, as well as set the City of Oakland’s intention to be a founding member in the formation of the bank along with the cities of Berkeley and Richmond. In addition, a report and recommendations on the timeline and process for implementing an Enhanced Infrastructure Financing District was heard. We look forward to working with the Finance Department to maintain the momentum on establishing EIFD(s) to serve the deep needs in our communities.

Councilmember Carroll Fife in a statement:

“I am truly excited to finally introduce this legislation for the viability study of a public bank here in the East Bay. This project has been in the works for many years and now has the potential to become reality. We are far overdue for banking institutions whose primary mission is to make prudent financial investment decisions that support local resiliency and robust growth in our region versus lining the pockets of unaccountable executives. Adopting these two pieces of legislation is the first step toward economic self-determination for progressive cities in the East Bay.”

During the Great Recession of 2008, unemployment and foreclosures skyrocketed and a number of private Wall Street banks either collapsed, were forced to merge with larger institutions, or were bailed out with taxpayer dollars. One bank that was able to withstand the fluctuations and volatility of the market was the Public Bank of North Dakota. Established over 100 years ago to serve working class farmers and residents in the state, this bank has been able to withstand the ebbs and flows of chaotic market trends while providing deeply needed resources such as small business loans, economic and workforce development funds, post-secondary education support through reasonable student loans - all while growing their general fund. Over 40% of financial institutions around the world are public banks, yet the United States is home to only one.

The Public Bank East Bay seeks to provide services that are responsive to deep needs like development of deeply affordable housing, workforce development and infrastructure that supports environmental resilience. The resolution accepting the viability study and resolution of intention were passed at the committee level and have now been approved by the full council. The next steps are collaboration with partnering cities and the County, the completion of the bank’s business plan, and an application to the state regulatory agency for a license. The business plan will need to be approved by the Council before an application is submitted to the State. Once the license is issued, the bank can open for business.