By: Javi Calderon
Birmingham City Council Considering Moratorium on FastCash
Following the model of a cityordinance passed in nearby Midfield, Alabama, the Birmingham City Council will vote on Tuesday on whether or not to place a moratorium onbusinesses that offer quick cash or quick credit products like payday loans, check cashingand car title loans.
In Midfield, the ordinance caps thenumber of such businesses operating within the city at its current number of12. If any of those 12 leave, the city will grant one new competitor a license.Midfield Mayor Gary Richardson claims that these restrictions are in line withzoning limits for any kind of business, yet the city is already facing alawsuit from a lender who claims that the ordinance is in violation of freecommerce laws.
In Birmingham, however, there is noordinance, just a moratorium. If passed, the growth of the deferred depositindustry in the city will only temporarily be halted.
Councilwoman Valerie Abbott, chairof the city Planning and Zoning Committee, stressed that the ban is onlytemporary in order to allow the council to examine the legality of taking morepermanent measures.
The moratorium was proposed by thechairwoman of the Economic Development Committee, Lashunda Scales. Scalesargues that the city has become inundated with nontraditional lending stores tothe point that they are hampering the city’s economic development by limitingthe available retail space for businesses that would provide more economicdiversity.
While Scales is certainly on amission to curb the spread of payday loan and cash advance stores inBirmingham, she also understands the need for, and draw to, these types ofbusinesses. She points out that these businesses offer cash-strapped customersa service that they otherwise could not receive.
Part of the battle of protecting low-income citizens,according to Scales, is through education, legislation and encouraging banks tooffer products that would compete in that market.