The city council of Santa Monica and the voters of San Francisco have adopted ordinances banning access fees charged by banks to noncustomers who use the banks' ATMs to withdraw money from another bank. These bans could deal a serious blow to consumers and small banks.

It's difficult to imagine the ordinances will withstand the legal challenge under way. For one thing, activities and fees of national banks cannot be regulated at the local level. Then there are the constitutional issues involving the taking of private property and denying banks equal protection of the laws (the ordinances do not apply to non-depository institutions).

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