Supes to vote on public bank plan

Plus: Exposing the ongoing PG&E scandal, and a hearing on rent relief — that’s The Agenda for June 13-20

By TIM REDMOND JUNE 13, 2021 (

The Government Audit and Oversight Committee passed unanimously a plan that could lead to a public bank in San Francisco, and the item will come before the full board Tuesday/15.

The concept has been years in the making, and the bill by Sup. Dean Preston would set up a committee of experts with the task of drafting plans for a municipal bank within one year.

Sup. Dean Preston is promoting a public bank.

There are lots of options on how the bank could operate and what it could do. That would be worked out by the panel. The bank could, according to the supes Budget and Legislative Analyst,

Cultivate and enter into lending agreements with a network of affiliated institutions: local and regional credit unions, banks, loan funds, and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs).

Ultimately, the public bank could provide traditional banking services – taking deposits and making consumer loans.

That would likely be years away, but the BLA report notes that:

Both models feasible and could operate profitability. We recommend that the City establish a non-depository MFC, at least initially, for lower operating costs, bigger impact, and no requirement for FDIC approval.

So far there are six cosponsors, enough to pass the measure but not enough to survive a mayoral veto. Sup. Rafael Mandelman, who is not a cosponsor, voted yes in committee, so one more vote would pass this with a veto-proof majority.

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The GAO Committee will hold a special hearing Friday/18 on the city’s rent-relief program. Some 32,000 tenants are behind on their rent, and while there’s federal money available to help, almost none of it has arrived in San Francisco.

Also: Many of the tenants eligible for rent relief don’t know about it.

Preston has been pushing the Mayor’s Office to use Prop. I money as a bridge to keep people in their homes (and yes, to keep small landlords out of foreclosure), but she has so far declined.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company continues to make it difficult and expensive for the city to connect its own public power to municipal facilities.

This is just one piece of a massive scandal – San Francisco generates cheap, renewable power at its Hetch Hetchy power plants, but the city has to pay PG&E to carry that power into town and to connect it to facilities owned by the city.

The Land Use and Transportation Committee will hold a special hearing on th4e issue Friday/18. Sup. Hillary Ronen has asked representatives of PG&E to show up. Often, they just don’t.

This is a huge issue, worth tens of millions of dollars. I wonder if PG&E will appear – and if not, what the Mayor’s Office will say.

Tim RedmondTim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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