AVALON — After more than 66 years, Security Pacific National Bank will close its sole branch on Santa Catalina Island, once again leaving this tiny tourist town with only one full-service bank.
The small branch in Avalon, with only 10 full-time employees and 2,500 individual and commercial accounts, will close Nov. 20, a victim of automation, Security Pacific spokeswoman Mary Trigg said Wednesday.
It was one of the few remaining Security Pacific branches without an automated teller machine, she said, and "the cost to automate the branch, to bring it in line with our other offices, is very expensive for us."
"We also saw (that) the potential for growth (is) very limited," she added.
The Avalon accounts, believed to total about $20 million in deposits, will be transferred to a Long Beach branch at 595 E. Ocean Blvd. Trigg acknowledged that the closing may mean the loss of many Avalon customers. She said employees will be offered positions at mainland Security Pacific branches.
Security Pacific opened its branch on Santa Catalina in 1919, the same year that William Wrigley Jr., the chewing-gum magnate, bought the island and began developing it. For nearly 63 years, it was the only full-service bank on the island.
Bank of Catalina
On Dec. 31, 1982, a group of investors from Avalon, San Pedro and Long Beach opened National Bank of Catalina. Bank of Catalina, with nearly $22 million in deposits and $16 million in loans, is preparing to open a second branch in Signal Hill next month.
Trigg said Bank of Catalina's success was not a factor in the company's decision to close its branch. But Allan T. Gibson, president of Bank of Catalina, said he believes that his bank did play a role in the decision.
"A bank needs to continue to grow to maximize its earning," Gibson said. "Aside from taking some business away from them, we limited their growth potential."
One Security Pacific customer--Avalon City Councilman W. F. (Oley) Olsen III, who owns a vending machine company--said he will transfer his account to Bank of Catalina. Olsen said that, because of the nature of his business, his transactions often involve depositing large amounts of quarters, making it impractical to mail deposits.
"I need a bank I can walk into, not mail something to," he said. "When the first 25 miles of the commute is over water, it becomes a little difficult to get there."