A California lawmaker called on the new BankAmerica Corp. to beef up its community development efforts in the state.
Speaking Monday at a hearing here, Democrat Louis J. Papan, chairman of the state Banking and Finance Committee, said NationsBank Corp.'s acquisition of the former BankAmerica should not have been approved by federal regulators without a specific, binding community reinvestment commitment to California.
"I am not sure whether NationsBank's leadership has the requisite knowledge or expertise to proportionately and efficiently deal with the diversity of California, its peoples, and their needs," Mr. Papan said.
The new $595 billion-asset BankAmerica is based in Charlotte, N.C., the home of the former NationsBank.
R. Eugene Taylor, a former NationsBank executive now president of the new BankAmerica's West Coast division, said that bank officials in California will make all decisions about local community development investments and charitable contributions.
"We will get the community development resources we need. ... And we will make decisions right here in California about how to utilize those resources," he said.
After the deal to create the new BankAmerica was announced April 13, the two constituent banks pledged to make a combined $350 billion in Community Reinvestment Act-related investments over a 10-year period.
Community groups said the pledge does not include adequate details about where the money would be invested.
Mr. Taylor reiterated BankAmerica's stance that changing demands and capacity in different markets would dictate where the funds go, rather than goals set ahead of time.
At the hearing, several community groups pushed for a series of specific requirements. The Greenlining Institute, for example, recommended the development of a separate CRA pledge for California of roughly $120 billion over the next decade. That compares with a $140 billion, 10-year commitment made by the old BankAmerica.
Community activists also requested that BankAmerica report annually to California lawmakers regarding its lending activities in the state.
Community groups added that they were particularly worried about the bank's commitment to California after president David A. Coulter resigned Oct. 30. Mr. Coulter had been chief executive of the old BankAmerica.
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, speaking briefly at Monday's hearing, likened the departure of Mr. Coulter and other San Francisco-based officials from BankAmerica's former home base to the death of a loved one.
"We have lost Bank of America ... and I hope what arises from those ashes will fill that void," Mr. Brown said. "But right now, widowhood is awful."