Bank of America no longer will be a bank of Bishop

By Deb Murphy

First JC Penney packed up its Arizona jeans and left town, not it’s Bank of America.

KSRW got the same canned confirmation printed in The Sheet; the departure date is September 11.

The reason: “changing needs and habits.” Conceding the decision was “a difficult one… driven primarily by changing banking behaviors as more clients overall have adopted our online and mobile banking offerings because of the convenience they provide.”

Tell that to Bishop Visitor Center host Chuck Kilpatrick who opened his first bank account in 1951, at BofA. It’s not hard to picture Kilpatrick trying to chat up an ATM, but he won’t get much of a conversation out of the machine.

The official statement provides some solace—“customers…can still access accounts” etc., etc. through mobile and online banking or at other locations.” That other location is in Ridgecrest, a two hour, 12 minute drive from Bishop.

As for current employees, corporate “will work to help place employees…in similar level roles within the company and offer severance for those eligible.” The bank’s regional representative couldn’t tell us how many locals work at the branch.

Between 2017 and 2018, BofA lowered its budget by 2.5 percent. From 2010 to 2017, the bank dropped 74,000 employees and reduced the number of branches by 27-percent. Then, oddly enough, a report by consumer advocate Clark Howard indicated BofA would add 500 branches over the next four years.

A 2017 report by J.D. Power didn’t pick up on the trend of online/mobile bank use. Seventy-one of bank customers surveyed for the report visited a branch an average of 14 times in 12 months.

Running those numbers by BofA probably won’t change the corporate mind. So, is the Owens Valley falling off the radar and is there any way to generate a more significant blip?

Bishop City Manager Jim Tatum may not have an immediate, fool-proof answer, but at least he makes you feel better.

“The community will have to pull together,” he said in a phone interview, “and figure out the needs; figure out what’s viable, what makes sense. We may end up looking completely different.”

The City Council started a dialogue with business and property owners earlier this year. Now, said Tatum, it’s time to listen to what people have to say and move forward.”

Some of the possibilities on the table are converting downtown commercial buildings to multi-use, including housing. Other viable options include gutting some of the larger retail buildings and leasing out spaces to small, start-up operations—like a business incubator.  Businesses evolve, Tatum said. Now Bishop has to figure out where that evolution is headed. “The onus is on the property owners,” he said. “It’s a tough problem, but you gotta believe” it’s solvable.

Tatum anticipates some movement in the next month or so. “We’re going to shake it up,” he said.

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18 Responses to Bank of America no longer will be a bank of Bishop

  1. ABC June 4, 2018 at 2:24 pm #

    I opened my very first bank account at the BofA Bishop branch circa 1986 which served as my main savings account until the mid 90’s when I received a $25 service charge for over drafting my account by 35 cents. I immediately dropped BofA, switched to a Credit Union and have never looked back (nor have I received an overdraft charge). Big banks are big business and have been fleecing customers for decades now. Vote with your money and only put it with an organization that a) supports the community and b) supports it’s customers.

    • InYoFace June 6, 2018 at 10:19 am #

      I left BofA years ago after my debit card wouldn’t swipe anymore, they wanted $5 for a replacement card. I cancelled all my accounts with them and moved over to Oak Valley and Ally (online bank). Good riddance

  2. Mono Person June 4, 2018 at 11:19 am #

    BofA pulled out awhile ago in Bridgeport, now we have Eastern Sierra Community Bank. It is only open Tues, Thur. And Fri – 11:00-3:00…you guys are lucky…

  3. sierragrl June 4, 2018 at 8:46 am #

    The only power Inyo and Mono Residents have here is to pull our business from BofA. Change your accounts to one of the remaining banks (perhaps keeping one BofA acct that is rarely used for occasional out of town use) AND close any BofA credit cards. They are not providing customer service and eliminating our business with them is our only recourse!

  4. Steve June 3, 2018 at 4:10 pm #

    People need to wake up, lot’s of online ownership opportunities to make a great living. Stop thinking JOB. JOB = Just over Broke and a slave to debt

  5. CarbonFootPrint June 3, 2018 at 2:57 pm #

    Good Riddance . The local banks and credit unions do a much better job.

  6. JaneE June 3, 2018 at 9:07 am #

    The world is changing, like it or not. 40 years ago I would run out of checks long before the register was full. Now the register can go for pages without one check being written – everything is auto deposit and auto pay.

    In the good old days, if you didn’t get the check to the bank, there wouldn’t be any way to get money till the next day, or next week, if you got paid on Friday night like most everyone. When you did get to the bank people were packed wall to wall and a half hour wait was speedy service. No way to call and let people know you would be late, either.

    Better or worse – depends on what you are talking about and to whom.

    • Tinner June 3, 2018 at 5:10 pm #

      What’s a “register”?
      Just kidding, yup, the world is changing.

    • sierragrl June 4, 2018 at 8:51 am #

      Try buying a car with $20s from the ATM….I guess that’s what we’ll be stuck with. How does one get cash for cash purposes? Not to mention, BofA created this ‘problem’. They routinely encouraged people to sign up for accounts that penalized them for going into the bank. They planned this at least 10 years ago and so far are getting away with it.

  7. Charles James June 2, 2018 at 10:23 pm #

    How many rural communities actually need more than one or two brick-and-mortar banks to service our local populations, especially with online banking and online payments so easily available? How many retail, brick-and-mortar-stores do we need when we go buy things when there is a larger variety of choices online and often less expensive than in local stores. Food restaurants and grocery stores seem to still be one of the few exceptions that appear to be, at least so far, immune to the onslaught of online commerce’s convenience and prices.Even that is changing with Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods.

    There has been a continuing drop in rural populations across in the U.S. for decades. Inyo County is hardly unique or exempt. Our population has been stagnant for decades. Student enrollment in local schools continue to drop. There is a lack of local jobs which pay livable wages that can support a family. There is a lack of entertainment. The idea that there is plenty to do here is a fallacy to many. Not everyone enjoys the “great outdoors.” There has also long been a lack of decent, affordable housing.

    Have you ever asked yourself, “Why do we have so many hospitals and health clinics in our area with so few people?” It seems better to have fewer facilities with more patients than too many not having enough clients and revenue to stay open.The same can as easily be said of our public schools. Why are taxpayers and home owners forced to pay for so many small schools and small school districts, and burdened with public school bond indebtedness? Many of our towns are no more than15 to 30 miles apart.

    Regional planning seems to be based more on hope than reality. The truth is, the tourist economy basically provides mostly low-paying jobs with little opportunity for advancement or growth. It seems that every time anyone tries to bring in a commercial enterprise or business to the area, local environmentalists, “no-growth” groups, and the “not-in-my-backyard” crowd shut them down. Those with good intentions in protecting the environment often destroy any hope that local adults and families have of living in an economically stable and business-friendly area that promotes growth. Although environmentalists often deny that is their purpose is to keep out business, the result is the same: Loss of jobs and the lack of a robust economy is forcing employees and their families to move out of the area to the cities.

    The diaspora of youth has been ongoing for a very long time in Inyo County. As local job opportunities continue to diminish I am reminded of a comedy routine by the late-Sam Kinison on “World Hunger” aired back in 2007. His advice to donors was to “stop sending money to famine relief organizations.” His suggestion to famine sufferers, screamed at the top of his lungs, was “Move to where the food is!” He pretends to pick up a handful of sand, letting it run through his fingers. “YOU LIVE IN A DESERT!, he screams, “See this? This is sand! Nothing grows in sand,” he says. His solution: “Rent a U-Haul and move to-where-the-food- is!”
    A slight change to Kinison’s advice seems reasonable for many that struggle to live here in Inyo County today: “Move-to-where-the-jobs-are!”

    That would be in the cities.

    Kinison’s routine on World Hunger can be seen on Youtube at:

    • Charles O. Jones June 4, 2018 at 9:45 am #

      Recreation is a resource, and it has been one of the primary resources in this region for the better part of a hundred years. Many here recognize that resource and understandably fight to protect it. Throughout this country and world there are plenty of examples of where short-sighted people, looking for a quick buck, have damaged or depleted such valuable resources. Often times that damage can be seen for decades or even centuries to come. Growth and temporary prosperity often comes with tremendous costs.

      As with everything, there’s a balance to be had. You may not like the balance here. I for one am quite happy to not have the big factories or the industrial scale agriculture that you can easily find in other regions of this state. I appreciate the fact that much our open space is protected from the trappings of more developed areas. And I believe the generations to come will be appreciative of those who had the foresight to protect one of our region’s most precious resources.

      • InyoMatters June 5, 2018 at 7:12 am #

        COJ, thanks for sharing your comments.

        As someone who philosophically and politically leans “slightly forward and slightly to the left of center,” with an occasional, tilt to the “right of center and slightly “backwards” (tongue-in-cheek), I agree with your premise that “there’s a balance to be had.” I’ve been a big fan of the 1982 advocacy documentary “Koyaanisqatsi,” (a Hopi Indian word for “life out of balance”)
        which visually made a cinematic argument for the potential destruction of unbridled commercialism. But not all commercialism is evil nor does it always result in environmental devastation.

        As to your comment that “You may not like the balance here,” I would point out that I did not say what my personal position is towards “local environmentalists, “no-growth” groups, and the “not-in-my-backyard” crowd,” only that they exist, just as do “pro-growth/pro-business” groups. Personally, I do not identify or support groups that favor or advocate unbridled commercial development and exploitation of land and other natural resources, with minimal government restriction and regulation. I have many friends in the environmental community that I hold with great respect and affection, and yet we don’t always agree on everything. So what?!

        On the other hand, I do believe that our government, as in so many areas of our lives, has over-reached in its regulatory efforts, with the result that it has stymied innovation and financial incentives at great cost to our economy and to our fellow citizens. You may, as you say, be advocating for the future, but I like to think that we can both look forward to the future without destroying economic opportunities for those that live and earn a living here in the present, i.e., Bishop and the rest of the Eastern Sierra communities. I strongly suspect that you may be retired, semi-retired, or you are not working two or three $10-$12 an hour jobs to support yourself or your family, as many do here in our area. Or maybe your “needs are minimal.” Regardless, you have a right to your opinion, even if it does basically screw the economic quality of life for those that are currently scraping by and trying survive here. Even if they want ed to stay here, the choice for many of them is that they have to move to places where there are jobs and opportunities, i.e., the cities.

        Look, I also “seek balance.” The difference between us might be in how we interpret the question, “What ‘is’ balance?'” And as much as some people really disliked former-president Bill Clinton’s disingenuous response to a grand jury during the Lewinsky scandal in answer to whether or not he has sex with her (he did) boiling down to “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is; on the far less “sexy” argument of the meaning of “balance,” it may well be that ‘Bubba’, sadly, had a point.

        • Charles O. Jones June 6, 2018 at 11:06 am #

          InyoMatters/Charles James?? One and the same???

          Maybe you didn’t specifically express your personal position towards: “local environmentalists, “no-growth” groups, and the “not-in-my-backyard” crowd,” But with comments claiming they “destroy the hope” of locals or “screw the economic quality of life”… etc. As a reader, how would you interpret such comments?

          Economic challenges are a reality throughout America, particularly in small towns. The economic challenges you’ve bemoaned are clearly not limited Inyo/Mono or the Eastern Sierra. People working multiple low paying jobs has sadly become the norm for many American communities. We have a shrinking middle class. And supporting leadership that furthers the disparities between “the haves” and “the have nots” only contributes to this trend.

          While similar economic problems may be found throughout the country, this region has something that most others do not – “the great outdoors” as you put it. Or, “A Big Back Yard” as the city of Bishop likes to call it. So when were pursuing “balance”, I believe we need to give tremendous consideration to the preservation and the protection of one of our most valuable resources. You’re certainly free to consider such a belief as destruction of hope, or screwing people over, etc. I consider it to be practical and responsible.

    • philip anaya June 4, 2018 at 2:59 pm #

      My friend Charles must realize, now that he is reminded, that Bishop is more than a rural community. It is a regional center with important entities headquartered here. We have Cal Trans, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the CHP, the BLM, the Inyo National Forest, Northern Inyo Hospital, the LADWP, So Cal Edison, the DMV, The City of Bishop and many more important business’s such as High Country Lumber , Home Lumber, Browns Supply, Smart and Final, Vons, Kmart, Manor Market & Hardware and plenty of hotels, motels, restaurants, Reagans and Mack’s, Wilson’s, the Gear Exchange and many other enterprises, UPS, Fed EX , US Postal and the Airport, the Fair Grounds, UC Facilities and Cerro Coso College. All of these entities benefit the local economy in a huge way.
      Bank of America made a big mistake leaving Mammoth and now an even bigger mistake leaving Bishop. Not only are they not going to be opening any new accounts between now and September in Bishop they are going to lose valued customers who need, prefer and value the connection with a human being in the bank.
      New visitors who come to the Eastern Sierra from all over California and all over the world
      will usually come to visit over and over again. The magnificent viewscapes of the Sierra Nevada work their magic on the hearts and souls of all who come here and all who live here. There is the wonderful community of folks that, when you begin to know them, matches the magnificence of the Eastern Sierra setting. Sadly, suits making decisions in far away urban centers have little appreciation seemingly, for the beauty of our Valley and they only have dollars and no sense in their eyes.
      About environmentalists. The Eastern Sierra is rich in environmental consciousness. Most who dwell here have a connection to the earth and the Owens Valley and value every rock, every grain of sand and dust, the plants, animals, streams, creeks, lakes and mountaintops along with their loved ones.
      While there are those who leave the Valley, there are those that stay and those that come home and those that finally arrive, with “this is it” imprinted in their hearts.
      Not having the Bank in town will be a inconvience. I will miss the wonderful Ladies at the Bank so much more…….

      • Charles James June 5, 2018 at 8:12 am #

        Hey, my friend Phil,

        You had me at “my friend, Charles.” And I truly do value your friendship…and opinion. You have my “thumbs up.” Very eloquent comments.

        I don’t disagree with anything you wrote, but the reality is that Inyo and Mono Counties are “rural counties” by almost any definition of the phrase. BOA’s decision was, they say, “economic,”and based on changing technology and banking habits of its customers. As “Sierragrl” pointed out, BOA (as are most large corporations) is a greedy little bastard…but, what’s new about that?

        Our country is not governed by what is best for “The People” (if it ever has been) any more than big business is run as a “service to its customers.” It’s not “We, the people”; it’s “They, the stockholders.” We keep voting for this and we continue to “reap what we sow.” And why not? Even after 9/11, President George W. Bush encouraged all of us, in defiance of the terrorists, to essentially, to “go shopping.” Shopping?! As one commentator wrote a the time, “We KNEW what he meant. He meant jump in your gas-guzzling SUV and drive to Walmart to buy more crap from China.” And we did…and we still do!

        Bank of America isn’t worried in the least bit that it will lose customers in Bishop or in any other rural community. The numbers are on their side. After all, they just got a huge tax break, and on top of that, Congress is giving them back all the tools they used to create the Great Recession of 2008. Remember the banks which crashed the stock market and the housing market, and resulted in the loss of many jobs and retirement investments?

        Yes, there will be customers that will never again, if they can avoid it, use BOA in the future. But as “JaneE” pointed out, as did “ABC”, we have alternatives…and actually they are better alternatives.You can still access your money from ATMs across the country from your local banking institution whether you use a “big bank” or a smaller, local one. The biggest loss (and I think the saddest) is, as you pointed out, the loss of yet, more local jobs. The piece of the pie is not shrinking; the pie itself, in rural America, is shrinking…and has been for a long time.

        As you say, Phil, the loss of BOA is “an inconvenience.”

        Good hearing from you, my friend. See you at the next LADWP or next Board of Supervisors meeting, fighting as you always do, for the less-fortunate and the environment! I appreciate your efforts.

        • philip anaya June 5, 2018 at 4:59 pm #

          As usual you are too kind CJ.

          The entities that are the regional headquarters, the visitors who come and leave their dollars here, the tribes that bring federal dollars into the local economy, in short any economic activity that brings dollars from outside the Eastern Sierra is the foundation and what sustains our local economy.
          That being said how can do we grow and maintain our local economy without wrecking what we all love here. DWP does not want an expansion of the population. They have not completed the LTWA required sales of surplus property. Empty buildings in Bishop, empty DWP buildings in Bishop seems to be ok with them as a larger population would make mean less water to export.
          All the other entities seem to be good to go with some growth but DWP is definitely the exception and they are the elephant in the room.
          Giving plenty of thought to what would be a viable business, something that we could use here…. I haven’t come up with any possibilities with one exception and this one exception would not put any dollars into my pocket.
          Been thinking of the need to develop Cerra Coso College into a four year institution with a future of post graduate studies specializing and utilizing our natural earth laboratory that surrounds us. Not only should the sciences, engineering and liberal arts be emphasized, but there should be a graduate programs for Public Administration and Outdoor Business Administration and what about hydrology. Students if given the opportunity to intern with our many local regional entities would benefit greatly from the experience that urban universities can not offer with job opportunities all over the world and here in the Owens Valley. A local 4 year institution will need a faculty and a greater facility,. A four year institution would need student housing classrooms, a cafeteria and health care all which could mean local economic growth and opportunity across the board.
          Mr. McCoy’s vision of Cerro Coso has to become greater than the wonderous start he has made establishing and laying the foundation for the education of future generations in the Eastern Sierra.

  8. silver spurs June 2, 2018 at 11:15 am #

    This town is drying up faster than a mud hole in Death Valley. Nobody seems to care.

    • sierragrl June 4, 2018 at 8:44 am #

      This has nothing to do with Bishop. It’s solely based on making more profit for the bank. Providing customer service to it’s customers is expensive and not what BofA shareholders care about. Plain and simple. They can get away with it, so they do it.


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