on May 22, 2023
San Francisco Submits Plans for a Public Bank to Fund Sustainable and Equitable Economic Recovery
This press release was originally issued by Supervisor Dean Preston.
San Francisco, CA — As the city and the country grapple with the ongoing instability and collapse of the banking industry, the San Francisco Reinvestment Working Group advances a plan to create a municipality-owned bank. The Public Bank proposal offers a game-changing tool as the city navigates ongoing concerns with the post-pandemic economic recovery.
The plans focus on the next steps and investments that the city can take to create a public bank, including financing for affordable housing, small businesses, and green investments. The
RWG’s approval includes a business and governance plan for creating a publicly owned municipal financial corporation (MFC) and for converting the MFC into a full San Francisco public bank.
“As we continue to chart a path to economic recovery and a sustainable economy, the Working Group’s business and governance plans provide the road map for our city to create the first municipal public bank in the nation, a crucial strategy to ensure that our city funds are used to reverse inequities, not perpetuate them,” said Supervisor Dean Preston. “The final plans submitted by the RWG is a huge step forward in turning the public bank concept into a reality.”
Traditional private banking has failed to offer sufficient access to financial services for residents and small businesses, especially in communities of color. The consequences of that lack of
access include inequitable economic, employment, health, affordable housing, and environmental outcomes that continue to this day.
“If the plan is adopted, San Francisco will be creating the first municipal public bank in California, which will provide a relatively speedy return on investment and serve as a model for other cities. With a $40 million investment spread out over the corporation’s first three years, we can create the infrastructure to benefit San Franciscans and achieve moderate profits that can be reinvested throughout the city,” said Andrea Batista Schlesinger, a Managing Partner at HR&A Advisors. “This plan could help San Francisco achieve significant benefits for people and the planet through a new, financially sustainable model.”
The business and governance plans were a year in the making. The Working Group worked closely with HR&A Advisors, leaders in inclusive economic development, who have produced similar public bank studies in Seattle and Philadelphia and led the analysis for the California Public Banking Option Act; Gary Steven Findley and Associates, experts in establishing de novo banks and providing guidance on management, operations, and compliance in California; and Contigo Communications, San Francisco-based practitioners who co-construct solutions that reflect the needs of community members.
“The reinvestment working group has done excellent work; throughout this process, they’ve delved into the existing gaps for small businesses, affordable housing, and green energy, especially post-pandemic. Our city urgently needs a public bank for economic recovery, and the plan provides officials with a no-brainer blueprint,” said Jackie Fielder, co-founder of the San Francisco Public Bank Coalition.
The plans will be presented to the Board of Supervisors at a hearing in July, after which the Board will take action to formalize and implement the process of starting an MFC and public bank in San Francisco.
For more information on the Reinvestment Working Group, visit
Additional Press Coverage
“SF Takes Big Step Toward a City-Owned Bank as Local Lenders Falter,” The Frisc (May 2023)
Photo: Shen Pan via Unsplash