So, I was all ready to get all righteous and indignant Last Friday over Bank of America’s absence of banks and ATMs in West Oakland when calmer and (probably) wiser) heads prevailed.
It started when BofA sent out an anouncement about the grand opening of the Leonard J. Meltzer Boys & Girls Club in West Oakland. Vern Yip of HGTV’s “Deserving Design” show crafted the fabulous facelift and the bank paid for it.
The announcement also mentioned that BofA had spent $61 million to spruce up a whole bunch of banking centers, none, zip, zero of which are located in West Oakland. I mean the bank doesn’t even have an ATM there.
But Cal Stanley, Boys & Girls Clubs of Oakland president, talked about how fantastic the place looked, “the best its been in 40 years,” was how he put it. You can see how right he is by these photos, and read the Tribune story about the grand opening here.
Stanley said of course he didn’t like that BofA had bypassed the West Oakland community for direct banking services, but he pointed out that it had given the Boys and Girls Club a two-year, $200,000 operating grant that really helped the organization provide a safe haven for a lot of kids that need it. He said the financial giant had been a really good partner with the club. It also gave the club a $30,000 check at Friday’s grand opening.
Emily Shanks, BofA’s, East Bay market president, told me the bank had invested about $2.4 billion in various programs to boost lending and other economic opportunities for Oakland residents and businesses.
She also wished BofA had a brick and mortar banking presence in West Oakland, but that was not her decision. She said the bank had “not found the proper location with access and security.” There’s also the question of whether West Oakland has enough critical mass (my words, not hers), meaning the decision makers aren’t sure West Oakland has the population to support a branch or ATM there.
I say it does. Those youngsters at the Boys and Girls Club shouldn’t have to leave their own community to deposit their paychecks when they grow up.