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Representatives Waters and Green Request Documents from Consumer Bureau on Recent Settlements

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“Consumer Bureau”) has recently announced several settlements against entities for engaging in unlawful practices without requiring the payment of redress to consumers harmed by the illegal conduct,” the lawmakers wrote. “This stands in stark contrast to the Consumer Bureau’s practice under the leadership of former Director Cordray. During Director Cordray’s tenure, the Consumer Bureau recovered nearly $12 billion in relief for harmed consumers over its first six years.[1] American consumers deserve a Consumer Bureau that will fight to recover their hard-earned money when they are cheated.”

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WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, and Congressman Al Green (D-TX), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, wrote to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger to request documents relating to recent settlements that do not require companies that have violated the law to provide redress to consumers who have been harmed.

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“Consumer Bureau”) has recently announced several settlements against entities for engaging in unlawful practices without requiring the payment of redress to consumers harmed by the illegal conduct,” the lawmakers wrote. “This stands in stark contrast to the Consumer Bureau’s practice under the leadership of former Director Cordray. During Director Cordray’s tenure, the Consumer Bureau recovered nearly $12 billion in relief for harmed consumers over its first six years.[1] American consumers deserve a Consumer Bureau that will fight to recover their hard-earned money when they are cheated.”

In the letter, the lawmakers requested documents regarding recent Consumer Bureau settlements with Sterling Jewelers Inc., Enova International, Inc, and NDG Financial Corp. et al.

See below for the full letter.

The Honorable Kathy Kraninger
Director
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
1700 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20552

Dear Director Kraninger:

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“Consumer Bureau”) has recently announced several settlements against entities for engaging in unlawful practices without requiring the payment of redress to consumers harmed by the illegal conduct. This stands in stark contrast to the Consumer Bureau’s practice under the leadership of former Director Cordray. During Director Cordray’s tenure, the Consumer Bureau recovered nearly $12 billion in relief for harmed consumers over its first six years.[1] American consumers deserve a Consumer Bureau that will fight to recover their hard-earned money when they are cheated.

On January 16, 2019, the Consumer Bureau announced it had reached a settlement with Sterling Jewelers Inc. (“Sterling”) for numerous claims, including that the company engaged in unfair practices by enrolling consumers who had a Sterling credit card in payment protection insurance without their consent.[2] Under the terms of the settlement, Sterling is required to pay a penalty to the Consumer Bureau of $10 million, but does not have to refund consumers any of the money paid for payment protection insurance.[3] According to the Consumer Bureau’s complaint against Sterling, payment protection insurance generated $60 million in revenue in 2016 alone.[4] The Consumer Bureau has previously required payments to consumers in similar cases where it found that consumers were enrolled in payment protection products without their consent.[5] The Committee is deeply troubled that the Consumer Bureau would allow a company to keep the profits they made from their illegal sales practices.

On January 25, 2019, the Consumer Bureau announced a settlement with Enova International, Inc. (“Enova”), an online lender, for engaging in unfair practices by debiting consumers’ bank accounts without authorization.[6] The settlement requires Enova to pay a $3.2 million civil money penalty to the Consumer Bureau, but contains no provision for paying redress to consumers.[7] The factual findings in the administrative consent order indicates that Enova debited payments on thousands of consumers’ outstanding loans where it did not have authorization and “extracted millions of dollars in unauthorized debits from consumers’ accounts.”[8]

On February 1, 2019, the Consumer Bureau announced a settlement with NDG Financial Corporation and other Defendants (“NDG Financial”) that did not require them to pay either a penalty or restitution to consumers.[9]  The Consumer Bureau initiated its action against NDG Financial when the agency was still led by former Director Cordray. In its December 2015 amended complaint, the Consumer Bureau alleged that NDG Financial engaged in unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices by collecting on payday loans that were made in violation of state law.[10]The amended complaint specifically sought “damages and other monetary relief as the Court finds necessary to redress injury to consumers resulting from [NDG Financial’s] violations of federal consumer protection laws including but not limited to restitution and the refund of monies paid.”[11] Yet, the settlement agreement seeks no such relief for the wronged consumers.

Section 1055 of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (“CFPA”) explicitly authorizes the Consumer Bureau to obtain relief for consumers, including the refund of money, restitution, or the payment of damages or other monetary relief. 12 U.S.C. § 5565(a)(1)(2).

The Committee has serious concerns about how the Consumer Bureau is exercising its enforcement authority, especially how it is determining whether to require companies to pay redress to consumers that have been harmed. The fact that two of the three settlements involve online lending raises serious questions about the Consumer Bureau’s commitment to protecting America’s consumers from predatory online lending practices.

As part of the Committee’s oversight over the Consumer Bureau,[12] please provide the following records by no later than March 5, 2019:

  1. All documents and communications referring or related to the issue of restitution in the settlement in Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and the People of the State of New York, by Letitia James, Attorney General for the State of New York, v. Sterling Jewelers Inc., Case 1:19-cv-00448, including but not limited to, all memoranda (whether draft or final), any and all drafts of the proposed consent order, and all meeting minutes.
  2. All communications between the Bureau and Sterling or its representatives referring or related to the issue of restitution in the settlement in Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and the People of the State of New York, by Letitia James, Attorney General for the State of New York, v. Sterling Jewelers Inc., Case 1:19-cv-00448, including but not limited to, any and all drafts of the proposed consent order.
  3. All documents and communications referring or related to the issue of restitution in the settlement in In the Matter of Enova International, Inc., 2019-CFPB-0003, including but not limited to, all memoranda (whether draft or final), any and all drafts of the proposed consent order, and all meeting minutes.   
  4. All communications between the Bureau and Enova or its representatives referring or related to the issue of restitution in the settlement in In the Matter of Enova International, Inc., 2019-CFPB-0003, including but not limited to, any and all drafts of the proposed consent order.
  5. All documents and communications referring or related to the issue of restitution in the settlement inConsumer Financial Protection Bureau v. NDG Financial Corp. et al., Case 1:15-cv-05211, including but not limited to, all memoranda (whether draft or final), any and all drafts of the proposed consent order, and all meeting minutes.
  6. All communications between the Bureau and NDG (or any of the other Defendants named in the settlement) or their representatives referring or related to the issue of restitution in the settlement in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. NDG Financial Corp. et al., Case 1:15-cv-05211, including but not limited to, any and all drafts of the proposed consent order.

Please address any questions regarding this request to Committee staff at (202) 225-4247.

Sincerely,

MAXINE WATERS
CHAIRWOMAN

AL GREEN
CHAIRMAN

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

cc:       The Honorable Patrick McHenry, Ranking Member

[1] https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/six-years-serving-you/

[1] https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/blog/six-years-serving-you/

[2] Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and the People of the State of New York, by Letitia James, Attorney General for the State of New York, v. Sterling Jewelers Inc.,  Case 1:19-cv-00448 (Jan. 16, 2019), available at  https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-settles-claims-against-sterling-jewelers-inc/.

[3] Id.

[4]Complaint at ¶41, available at  https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/bcfp_sterling-jewelers_complaint.pdf

[5] See e.g. . Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Consent Order In the Matter of Bank of America, N.A. and FIA Card Services, N .A. 2014-CFPB-0004 (April 9, 2014)  (providing approximately $269 million in restitution to consumers for deceptively enrolling consumers in payment protection products) available at  https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-orders-bank-of-america-to-pay-727-million-in-consumer-relief-for-illegal-credit-card-practices/ ;  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Consent Order In the Matter of Fifth Third Bank, 2015-CFPB-0025  (Sept 28, 2015)(requiring  approximately $3 million in restitution to consumers for deceptively enrolling consumers in payment protection products) available at https://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201509_cfpb_consent-order-fifth-third-bank-add-on.pdf;

[6] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Consent Order In the Matter of Enova International, Inc., 2019-CFPB-0003, (Jan25. 8, 2019), available at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-reaches-settlement-enova-international-inc/ .

[7] Id.

[8] Consent Order  at ¶¶ 14, 18, available at  https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_enova-international_consent-order_2019-01.pdf . 

[9] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. NDG Financial Corp. et al., Case 1:15-cv-05211-CM (February 1, 2019) available at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/consumer-financial-protection-bureau-settles-ndg-financial-corp/

[10] Amended Complaint at ¶¶ 275-95 available at https://s3.amazonaws.com/files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/cfpb_northway_amended-complaint_122015.pdf

[11] Id. at ¶337(b).   

[12] Rule X, Rules of the House of Representatives, 116th Congress

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Oakland Co-op Buys Historic Esther’s Orbit Room Space

The revitalization of Esther’s, and EB PREC’s mission, has a deep personal connection for Session, EB PREC’s executive director and a Black, third generation West Oaklander who has struggled to keep her childhood home.

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Noni Session, of The East Bay Permanent Real Estate Collective, stands outside the legendary Esther's Orbit Room on 7th Street in West Oakland, whose doors had been closed for about a decade. Photo by Zack Haber on October 12.

“It’s like life just stopped here,” said Noni Session, as we stood inside a large dusty room on Seventh street in the Lower Bottoms neighborhood of West Oakland on Indigenous People’s Day. The black, sparkly ceiling emitted a celestial vibe. Rows of liquor bottles sat partially full behind a 20-foot wooden bar while vinyl ’70s style stools rested in front. Gentle yellow light was omnipresent. A calendar opened to May 2010 hung in front of a mirror.

Words on a colorful but faded sign out front showed this place was once “Esther’s Orbit Room,” a vibrant cultural hub for Black Oaklanders that stayed open for about 50 years before it shuttered its doors shortly after its owner, Esther Mabry, died at age 90 in 2010. On September 30, the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative (EB PREC) closed on purchasing this space. They plan to revitalize it as an extension of their overall mission to help Black, Indigenous and people of color remain and thrive in the East Bay.

The revitalization of Esther’s, and EB PREC’s mission, has a deep personal connection for Session, EB PREC’s executive director and a Black, third generation West Oaklander who has struggled to keep her childhood home. In the ’80s she and her father stopped at Esther’s regularly before they would go fishing at a nearby pier. At that time, it wasn’t just a bar and restaurant but also a shop where her father could buy bait and she could get a treat.

Memories of Esther’s Orbit Room are still alive in the neighborhood. As Session and I talked, we were fortuitously interrupted two separate times by Black, long-term residents who just happened to be passing by and noticed the open door. They both briefly shared fond recollections of the place, and excitedly asked about the reopening. One of these people was 60 year old Pamela Brown.

“[Esther’s] was a happy place,” Brown said. “There were not that many places Blacks could go and be comfortable, but that was one of those places.”

Brown remembers Esther’s always being packed in the ’70s and ’80s and that “the vibe was just awesome and friendly.” She loved the southern comfort food they served: greens, pork chops, black eyed peas and hamburgers. Brown’s uncle, Nathaniel Harrison, remembers it being a great place to socialize around that time and that people were always dancing to the jukebox. Although Brown and Harrison were too young to experience it, legendary musicians like BB King, T-Bone Walker and Ike & Tina Turner performed at Esther’s in the 60s.

As I asked Session about what EB PREC’s revitalization project could look like, she told me about dreams she’s been having lately that place her inside Esther’s and wake her in the night to visions of “old school, Black church mixed with afro-futuristic aesthetics.” While several specific design ideas interest her, like installing colorful stained glass window art and putting a mural up of Maasai people walking across planets, she is excited that there is still a lot of uncertainty about the space. That uncertainty exists because its re-creation will be a massive collaboration involving many people who aren’t even in the EB PREC collective yet.

How EB PREC Works

Session is just one cog in a wheel that keeps EB PREC spinning. Well over 400 people currently form the collective in a complex process of communal ownership. While Esther’s will be EB PREC’s first commercial business, it’s not their first project. In 2019, and 2020, they purchased two East Bay homes that currently house 13 resident collective members, almost all of whom are BIPOC.

These residents all pay less than $900 per month toward costs required to secure and maintain the homes. At the end of the year, residents can get paid back any surplus if their payments exceed these costs. It’s all part of EB PREC’s process of replacing landlords with communal ownership and permanently taking housing and land off the speculative market in order to keep it affordable.

“There’s no supply and demand issue when it comes to housing; the demand comes from the demand for investment assets,” said Ojan Mobedshahi, EB PREC’s Finance Director. “Our move is to de-commodify land and we never consider putting it back on the market to profit from it.”

One way EB PREC has raised the capital to make these affordable homes accessible and the Esther project possible is by also including community owners in the collective who live in the area and each pay $10 a week, a year, or a month, depending on what they can afford. The community owners offer feedback and guidance on EB PREC’s projects and also have a direct role in electing some of EB PREC’s board members.

Individual investors also play a crucial role in EB PREC by buying shares of the collective for $1,000 each. None of them will strike it rich. EB PREC offers these people a targeted 1.5% yearly return on shares, about what one would expect to secure from a savings account and much lower than what one would expect from a typical real estate investment.

The collective’s website stresses that a key boon in becoming a shareholder is the ability to “feel good about your money being invested in community.” But unlike community owners, investors don’t share an active role in decision making. EB PREC also gets loans from foundations that are aligned with their vision and offer low to no interest loans.

The work and/or money of EB PREC’s five-member staff, 13 owner residents, and hundreds of community owners and investors has made it possible to secure two Bay Area homes and start revitalizing Esther’s, a project they see costing around $5 million. To finish the Esther’s project though, EB PREC needs a new classification of people to join them called commercial co-owners. They see the large indoor spaces hosting a bar and café that they hope will have music performances as well as a healing arts center while the backyard will host a farmers’ market. They’re seeking BIPOC people with expertise in those areas to run and take communal ownership of those spaces with EB PREC.

“Even in my dreams many of the walls are just prepped for art instead of having art on them,” Session said, pointing around to the spaces in Esther’s. “It’s not like how can we cover all the walls with our ideas but how can we prepare a palette that holds our mission and also holds space for other people’s creativity and control?”

Session sees the symbol of the palette in her dreams as the space that commercial co-owners and the community can help to fill. She has many questions like: What kind of cafe will be in the place? What kind of plants can the backspace have? What kind of music will be played in the space? What kind of healing arts practitioners will come? What kind of food will be served?

“We know we can’t be totally clear on what this space will be until it has its humans,” Session said. “Right now, we’re sort of its steward humans.”

As EB PREC searches for BIPOC commercial co-owners, they’re again seeking more resident collective members as the Esther’s property also has residential units that can house at least six people. They hope to build a community of BIPOC business owners and residents to bring vibrant life to Esther’s once again.

Building from Seventh street’s vibrant Black past 

To look back at how the original Esther’s Orbit Room was founded in the early ’60s could likely read as a fairy tale to the modern reader as the economic conditions, particularly for Black people, were radically different at that time. Esther Mabry, a Black woman who came to West Oakland from Palestine, Texas at age 22, in 1942, worked as a waitress at Slim Jenkins Supper Club, a legendary Seventh Street jazz and blues club, and was able to save enough from tips to start her own restaurant in 1950.

She named it Esther’s Breakfast Room. By the early ’60s, just around the time Slim Jenkins Supper Club and other similar establishments were closing, Esther and her husband William, a worker at the now closed Alameda Naval Air Station, had enough capital to buy a new space and open Esther’s Orbit Room.

Esther’s and William’s ability to open their business was likely aided by World War II and its subsequent postwar economic boom of the ’40s and ’50s that brought decent paying jobs, disposable income and homeownership to much of West Oakland’s Black population. Seventh Street was lively at that time and full of Black-owned businesses, including dozens of Black-owned jazz and blues clubs.

“It was the place to be,” Mabry said in an interview from 2002. “They used to have music playing and the hot tamale man. They would have shows and dances and theaters. You could just go from one club right to another. But no one’s there anymore.”

Writer Jennifer Soliman briefly and poignantly shows much of the complex reasons for the demise of these economic and social conditions in her historical essay “The Rise and Fall of Seventh Street.” They included federal urban renewal projects and the creation of BART, both of which lead to the destruction of Black-owned homes and the displacement of much of the Black population. In the same 2002 interview, Mabry lamented that there were no longer Black business owners in that location and said, “I’m the only one that’s left.”

These days, starting a successful business on Seventh Street based solely on the capital two people earn who don’t have deep generational wealth may seem like a pipe dream. But in one instance, a cooperative model has worked. The BlPOC worker owned Mandala Grocery Cooperative, which sits across from West Oakland’s BART station, employs seven people and has been open over a decade.

Session hopes EB PREC’s new collective project will help bring some of the vibrant Black life Seventh street once had back to the area by creating an economic and artistic anchor point around Esther’s. For that to happen, Session said she realized more than just housing was needed for BIPOC people, but an economy that they co-create. She hopes the Esther’s project can contribute to that and serve as a model for others.

In the meantime, Pamela Brown eagerly awaits what’s to come from the rebirth of a place that brought her so much joy decades ago.

“This is such a good idea,” Brown said. “It’s a great place to be revitalized.”

The Oakland Post’s coverage of local news in Alameda County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.

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Coming Soon to California: A ‘Zero-Fee’ Public Banking Option

Proponents of public banking in California say Wall Street banks have failed low-income communities, particularly people of color. They also say the public banks will provide easier access to capital that will be critical to helping small businesses and neighborhoods rebound after the pandemic.

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A woman sits at her dining room table with laptop and financial reports doing her monthly budget. She is smiling at the ease of use as she works on her smart phone banking app to do monthly finances, pay taxes and save money for the future.

On October 4, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation paving the way for a new public banking system in California.

AB 1177, known as the ‘California Public Banking Option Act,’ creates a zero-penalty, zero-fee, and zero-minimum-balance platform for basic financial services.

These services include direct deposit from employers and public benefits, automatic bill pay to registered payees, recurring payments and donations to account holders’ organizations or charities of choice, and an infrastructure to support account holders in building credit.

“AB 1177 will help Californians stay protected from overdraft fees and penalties and give them an opportunity to save money and build wealth while fighting the racial wealth gap,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), lead author of the bill.

“California is leading the nation’s public banking movement and we must keep working to provide no-fee banking services to all Californians,” he added.

Santiago wrote the bill with the intention to help close the financial services gap that leaves 1 in 4 Californians unbanked or underbanked. Modeled after the state’s public retirement program CalSavers, the bill forms a commission of representatives from the Treasurer’s office, the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation, financial access experts and community members to oversee market analysis on how the program should be implemented.

Proponents of public banking in California say Wall Street banks have failed low-income communities, particularly people of color. They also say the public banks will provide easier access to capital that will be critical to helping small businesses and neighborhoods rebound after the pandemic.

“Financial exclusion and scarcity have been a tool for oppression, discrimination and systemic inequity for too long. Public banking options such as BankCal, along with new technology that allows for free exchange over the internet, are urgently needed to decentralize power, privilege and financial control,” said Briana Marbury, executive director of the Interledger Foundation, a non-profit that advocates for standards and technologies that support an open and integrated global financial system.

Opponents of the bill believe that government-owned banks open the door for corruption and that the cost of any mismanagement of funds will come out of taxpayers’ pockets.

A 2015 article published by the Cato Institute critiques past public banking projects, highlighting shortcomings and failures.

Mark A. Calabria, who was chief economist to former Vice President Mike Pence and former director of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency authored the article.

He cites devastating losses Germany’s public banks suffered during the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008.

Calabria also points to public banking failures closer to home.

“The recent history of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, quasi‐ public banks at the federal level, illustrates that mismanagement and corruption are alive and well at the intersection of the public and private,” he wrote.

However, Trinity Tran, co-founder of the California Public Banking Alliance, argues instead that AB1177 does not create a new bank but “creates a statewide retail banking option through which every California worker can access zero-cost services.”

While California is known for its groundbreaking legislation, it will not be the first state with a banking system like this. North Dakota’s public banking system was founded back in 1919.

Marbury believes that the bill is only the first step toward a broader initiative that would revolutionize accessibility to financial growth and equality.

“This is an exciting development, but not far-reaching enough. Public banking initiatives should be introduced in other states across the U.S. to ensure equal access to financial services for the most vulnerable sectors of our population while elevating the economic health of society as a whole,” she said.

In addition, global financial inclusion should encompass both “brick and mortar” bank access for everyone and a more inclusive internet,” she added.

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Gov. Newsom Signs Package of Laws Supporting Restaurants, Bars

California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a COVID-19 recovery package Friday supporting small hospitality establishments around the state, including restaurants and bars.

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Oakland, CA, USA February 21, 2011 Folks enjoy a sunny day with al fresco dining at the historic Last Chance Saloon, made famous by author Jack London, in Oakland, California/ iStock

California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved a COVID-19 recovery package Friday supporting small hospitality establishments around the state, including restaurants and bars. 

Signed at a restaurant in Oakland, the legislative package includes Assembly Bill (AB) 61, Senate Bill (SB) 314 and SB 389 – bills that, among other provisions, extend COVID-19 special permissions like outdoor dining and to-go licenses for alcoholic beverages. 

Funding for the package will come out of the governor’s California Comeback Plan which allots $10.2 billion in small business support. So far, the state has spent $4 billion on an emergency grant program and $6.2 billion in tax relief for small businesses. 

“These innovative strategies have been a lifeline for hard-hit restaurants during the pandemic and today, we’re keeping the entrepreneurial spirit going so that businesses can continue to create exciting new opportunities and support vibrant neighborhoods across the state,” said Newsom. 

The state support comes at a time when many Black-owned small businesses in California, including restaurants, are struggling to recover after being hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) research, 13 % of Black-owned businesses have had to close down due to the pandemic, compared to 8% of White-owned ones. For Latino-owned businesses that number is even higher at 18 %. 

Due to the pandemic, Black businesses have experienced higher revenue loss, more layoffs of employees and less success in getting government funded relief like assistance from the federal Paycheck Protection Program. 

“We have all seen the fallout from the pandemic and recession and the effect on BIPOC people and BIPOC small businesses owners has been devastating,” said Tara Lynn Gray, Director of the California Office of the Small Business Advocate. She was speaking at an IGS event last week titled “Diversity and Entrepreneurship in California: An Undergraduate Research Symposium.”

“These are problems that have to be addressed. Access to capital continues to be a challenge,” Gray continued. “We are seeing bankers like Wells Fargo, Citi and JP Morgan Chase making significant investments in BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) small businesses, communities and individuals. That is a trend I would like to continue to see.”

Gray pointed out there are a number of state programs like the Small Business COVID-19 relief funds that prioritize providing relief funding to underserved businesses in the state. 

Authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Encino) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) respectively, AB 61 and SB 314 establish a one-year regulatory grace period for businesses operating under temporary COVID-19 licenses to get permanent expanded licenses, such as outdoor dining authorization.

The one-year grace period will begin once the pandemic emergency declaration has expired. 

“Outdoor dining has been a critical lifeline that has helped these establishments keep their doors open during these challenging times,” said Gabriel.

 “AB 61 provides important flexibility so that restaurants can safely expand outdoor dining and continue to serve the communities they call home. I applaud Governor Newsom for his thoughtful leadership in protecting both public health and small businesses as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gabriel continued.

Wiener also stressed the importance of pandemic protocols for small businesses in California.

“SB 314 ensures the public can continue to enjoy outdoor dining with alcohol and that our small neighborhood businesses can continue to benefit from this change. The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, and it’s important we make changes to modernize our entertainment and hospitality laws to allow them more flexibility and more ways to safely serve customers,” he said.  

SB 389 allows restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars that sell food to continue to sell to-go alcoholic beverages through Dec. 31, 2026.

“This is an important step toward helping our restaurants, which have been hit hard by the pandemic,” said Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), SB 389’s author. 

“It will ensure their recovery, protecting jobs and our economy. I thank Gov. Newsom for supporting this new law,” he continued.

 

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