SAN FRANCISCO - A prominent community group says Bank of California is doing a dismal job of making home mortgage loans to blacks and Latinos.
The California Reinvestment Committee is basing its claim on a recently completed analysis of 1993 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act filings by the 20 largest banks and thrifts in California. The filings are the most recent data available.
According to the analysis, $7.7 billion-asset Bank of California, a unit of Mitsubishi Bank Ltd., got three home mortgage applications from blacks in California during 1993 and two from Latinos. One of these applications was approved.
No other institution studied by the group offered fewer loans to, and had fewer applications from, blacks or Latinos.
"This is an indicator of a lack of openness by Bank of California to low-income and minority households," said Alan Fisher, the committee's executive director.
A Bank of California spokeswoman confirmed the data but disputed the conclusions. She said the institution has made substantial efforts to open banking relationships with minorities and lower-income people.
For example, Bank of California started a program in late 1993 called Community Outreach that focused on lending to low- and moderate-income people. The program originated a total of $27.6 million of loans in 1994, she said.
Nearly all of these were refinancings of home loans and will not show up in the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act filings, which tally new loans.
The spokeswoman said looking only at new loans is unfair since Bank of California is not a big player in this business. Indeed, according to the California Reinvestment Committee, Bank of California accepted only 102 home mortgage applications in 1993.
But Mr. Fisher said Bank of California has made a lesser effort than other big banks. He said he is trying to start a dialogue with the institution to persuade it to do more.
Mr. Fisher said similar talks with other banks have helped lift the proportions of mortgage applications from blacks and Latinos slightly from their 1992 levels. Specifically, in 1992, 3.96% of all mortgage loan applicants at the 20 largest California institutions were black, and 17.37% were Latino. In 1993, the rates rose to 4.41% and 17.9%, respectively.
Mr. Fisher said he expects to have particularly strong leverage with Bank of California, because its parent is merging with Bank of Tokyo.
The latter owns a controlling interest in San Francisco-based Union Bank, and experts expect some kind of sale or merger involving the California units to result, although no change has been announced. Mergers can be held up if regulators find an institution has not fulfilled its fair-lending obligation.
Last month, another activist group based here, the Greenlining Coalition, threatened to protest the merger of the Japanese banks unless they made a major Community Reinvestment Act lending commitment.