Council Votes 8-1 (Schipske Dissenting) To Exempt Three Pending Applications -- Two Proposed Title Loan Operations, One Consumer Finance Lender -- From Moratorium


(Oct. 2, 2012) -- At its meeting tonight (Oct. 2), the City Council voted 8-1 (Schipske dissenting) to approve a substitute motion by Councilman Patrick O'Donnell (seconded by Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal) to exempt three applications "in the pipeline" (applicants have paid their fees) from a one year moratorium on payday lending, car title loan lending and short term consumer finance lending land uses.

The Council action effectively lets an application for a title loan lending firm (South Wrigley, PCH/Pacific, 6th district) and a consumer finance lending firm (ELB 2000 block Ximeno, 4th district) advance to the City Council on appeals and a third (title loan firm in the 8th district) to proceed to the Planning Commission where they can be approved or disapproved "on their merits."

Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske had proposed the moratorium and Vice Mayor Robert Garcia and Councilmembers Al Austin and Steven Neal joined in agendizing the item...but Schipske's three co-agendizers ultimately voted to exempt from the moratorium three pending applications "in the pipeline" (applications as filed complete, fees paid)...including the applications that spawned the proposed moratorium in the first place.

During public testimony, an attorney representing the PCH/Pacific applicant (Pennbrooke Financial Services) indicated that 6th district Councilman Dee Andrews' office has been working on "29 conditions" for the South Wrigley location. This revelation [it's the first we've heard of it] strongly suggests that Councilman Andrews plans to support the operation with conditions when it reaches the Council...a stance that would put him at loggerheads with a number of veteran community advocates (including members of the Long Beach Central Project Area Council, established when the Central Redevelopment Project Area Committee disappeared with Sacramento's dissolution of Redevelopment) who oppose the proposed PCH/Pacific title loan location.

A week earlier, Garcia and O'Donnell were the only two Councilmembers to vote against a motion by Schipske to "continue" a hearing on the 4th district consumer finance lending location. (Continuing the hearing gave Schipske time to agendize the moratorium.)

Several members of the public spoke in support of Schipske's proposed moratorium and criticized the substitute motion exempting the three pending applications from it, noting that the moratorium came about in response to the proposed 4th district consumer finance lender that the substitute motion would exempt from the moratorium.

Mayor Foster weighed in, saying that in other regulatory contexts an exemption for applications "in the pipeline" is considered basic fairness. Vice Mayor Garcia said the exemption didn't mean the applications would be approved, only that they'd be considered for approval or disapproval. Garcia also contended that in previous moratoriums, the Council had exempted applications "in the pipeline," but Councilwoman Schipske responded by citing examples of other moratoriums in which the Council didn't allow exemptions. She ultimately dissenting on the Council vote allowing the exemptions from the moratorium.

The Council hearing on the appeal (by members of the public) of the proposed 4th district consumer finance lender is scheduled for November 13. To our knowledge a date hasn't been set yet on the South Wrigley (PCH/Pacific) title loan facility; appeals to the Council in that matter [in which a tie Planning Commission vote resulted] have been filed by the applicant and appellants. .

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