OAKLEY -- An Oakley business serving those who need quick cash now might be able to add another type of loan to its offerings.

The Oakley City Council this week responded to Advance America's request for permission to offer car title loans by unanimously approving an urgency ordinance that allows this type of service under certain conditions.

The ordinance requires that the business first have a conditional-use permit, which Advance America now must apply for.

Special Counsel Bill Galstan said that he was told the business previously had been operating legally; it is unclear from the city's staff report whether it now will need a permit to continue its current operations.

The ordinance takes effect immediately and will remain for up to 90 days, giving the council time to change or add to it before adopting a permanent one.

Advance America, which opened a store in Oakley in 2010 and remains the only business of its kind in the city, already was providing customers with ready money in the form of small, short-term loans and cashing checks for those who don't have a bank account, can't get to their bank quickly, or don't want to wait for a check to clear.

Now it wants to add car title loans to its menu of options, an increasingly popular method of borrowing that allows individuals to use their vehicle as collateral.


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State law allows businesses that issue these type of loans to charge an unlimited interest rate on loans above $2,500, which raised concerns among council members.

"Too often people in desperate situations can get taken advantage of," Councilwoman Diane Burgis said.

In an effort to exercise some control over Advance America's operations, the mandatory conditional-use permit comes with a variety of rules governing how these businesses operate, including where they must place security cameras and the stipulation that they take customers' thumb prints.

Councilman Kevin Romick emphasized that he doesn't want quick-cash lenders to be open all hours of the night.

"Generally speaking, if you're out at 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning looking for a loan, you're probably not on the up and up," he said after the meeting, adding that people carrying around a fistful of cash invite the possibility of robberies.

Romick acknowledged that the permit regulations don't address the possibility of such businesses gouging customers but said the city will be looking for ways that it can amend the ordinance to accomplish this.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Reach her at 925-779-7141.