The new Chase branch on the corner of Oak and Divisadero is set to open November 8th, but several planned boycott events are aiming to put a damper on the festivities.
The Occupy401Divis movement, a group of neighbors inspired by the Occupy Wall Street protests, has organized on Facebook in response to what they see as two main injustices.
First, they believe community input on Chase’s presence in the neighborhood was unfairly limited, as the branch was able to avoid the constraints of SF’s formula retail law.
Second, the branch ousted two beloved businesses — Country Cheese Co. and Five Star Truffles — a displacement which the movement concedes was legal but not necessarily good for the community.
As such, they are planning several boycott events in the next few weeks, and are refusing to relent until some pretty significant demands are met:
- “Chase must pay the taxes it avoided paying on its profits in 2010 (a grand total $1.988 billion dollars).”
- “Chase must refinance mortgages for all California borrowers who are current on their payments but owe significantly more than their homes are now worth.”
- “All San Francisco Chase branches must reverse their February 2011 policy of charging a monthly fee to people with balances under $1500 (aka those who can least afford an additional fee).”
- “Chase will provide $3 million in funding (with no strings attached) for a community project to restore the Harding Theater… for use as a multi-use community facility.”
We asked organizer Amy Weiss to elaborate on that last demand.
“I tried to encapsulate some of Chase’s most troublesome actions/policies that are currently hurting communities near and far,” she said. “Support for the renovation of the Harding Theater as a multi-use community space would be an amazing benefit to our particular neighborhood.”
Weiss added that the demands are still open to revision until the first day of the boycott, pending feedback and suggestions from the community.
When asked about the motivation behind Occupy401Divis, Weiss told Haighteration, “I am doing this work because I think it is important to take a stand against Chase, a corporation whose policies and investments are geared towards short-term profits at the expense of community well-being in our city, state, country, and beyond. Planning this boycott is my way of contributing as part of the 99%.”
There will be at least three boycott events at the branch over the next two weeks, beginning with a Halloween-themed event outside the branch this coming Monday. For details, visit the No Chase Bank on Divisadero Street Facebook page, or email email@example.com.
We’re seeking comment from Chase, and will update this story accordingly.
We’ve just received the following response from Chase spokesperson Eileen Leveckis:
“Over the last year, we have met with numerous community members during the branch-opening process. Since moving forward with the branch, we have been a major sponsor of NOPNA’s Annual Block Party and have recently partnered with the McKinley Elementary School (at the end of Divisadero St.) to support their arts and science education programs by becoming the lead sponsor of next year’s DogFest. We look forward to continuing to engage in meaningful partnerships with the community.”
Leveckis adds the following statistics:
- Since 2009, Chase has added 6,000 jobs in California. Just this year alone, we’re adding nearly 2,000 jobs.
- We’re lending over $2B to small businesses, and contributing over $23M to charities across California ($9M in Northern California, $14M in Southern California.).
- Chase has made extensive efforts to help homeowners. Over the last two years we have helped more than 704,000 homeowners avoid foreclosure nationwide. We’ve added 4 more homeownership centers in California for a total of 18 centers, where struggling borrowers can meet face-to-face with a Chase loan modification specialist. Chase is also participating in the newly-expanded HARP program that President Obama just announced.
- In 2010, Chase provided nearly $25 billion in financing for local governments and non-profit organizations in California
- We paid more than $74 million in state and local taxes in 2010
- We purchased more than $1 billion in goods and services from California companies in 2010
- Chase’s Community Revitalization Program donated or sold at a discount houses worth over $130 million in total real estate value to community development organizations.
“Finally, regarding checking accounts, we are offering customers of Total Checking four ways to avoid a monthly service charge, including direct-deposit and daily balance options.”