Planning Commission Wants Council to Crack Down on Payday Lending

Payday lending offices offer immediate financial relief to many of San Jose’s most cash-strapped citizens, but the high interest rates can leads to crippling debt when more loans are required to pay off the first. It’s a vicious cycle that brings interest rates to as high as 460 percent in some cases.

This week the city’s planning commission made new recommendations on how to curb the proliferation of offices. Suggestions included more than doubling the distance of 500 feet between offices to a quarter-mile, providing guidelines on how to implement a cap on the number of lenders—because a cap always works great with this council—and prevent new offices from locating in low-income areas.

Lobbyist Manny Diaz is no longer working for payday lending offices, nor is he registered with the city anymore—word is Diaz was pretty ineffective, as the above paragraphs might indicate—but we’ll try and track down who’s doing the talking for the businesses that many call predatory lenders. San Jose reportedly has 38 payday lending offices right now.

The council plans to take action on the commission’s recommendations May 15, four days after the deadline for people to apply for a soon-to-be vacant position on the commission. Attorney Christopher Platten, who some of you might remember is leading labor’s legal fight against the city over Measure B, will complete his second term on the commission at the end of the fiscal year.

Depending on the council’s view of certain commissioners’ performance, more spots could become available.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.

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