City Council votes to explore possibility of transferring funds out of Wells Fargo

Gracie Malley/Staff
The Berkeley City Council is considering moving its funds from Wells Fargo into local credit unions.

The Berkeley City Council unanimously passed an item Tuesday night that could set the stage for transferring the city’s assets out of Wells Fargo.

The item, proposed by Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin and Darryl Moore, asked the city manager to explore the impact of transferring roughly $300 million in city money out of Wells Fargo and into alternative banking options like local credit unions and community banks.

“By saying that we recognize the role Wells Fargo played and that we’re not going to do business with them because we don’t approve of what they did — that’s a pretty powerful statement,” Arreguin said. “It’s really taking the Occupy movement to the next level.”

Since the item was approved, the Berkeley city manager will begin gathering information on the feasibility of the potential move and report back to the council with this information by May 1, according to the recommendation. The city’s current contract with Wells Fargo expires at the end of this year.

At the meeting, Councilmember Max Anderson proposed looking into the possibility of having a collaborative effort between multiple local credit unions to handle Berkeley’s banking needs.

“This is not 1% versus 99% … we’re really trying to get financial institutions to invest locally,” he said at the meeting. “This way every bank that seeks our business would take a good look at how they can invest more concretely in the community.”

The city last had the choice to renew or end its contract with Wells Fargo in 2009. Though there were discussions of moving out, the city ultimately renewed its contract, deciding to revisit the issue later.

Staff writer Adelyn Baxter contributed to this report.

Jaehak Yu covers city government.