Biz Buzz: Coast National’s parent firm makes pact with Federal Reserve

Coast Bancorp, the holding company for San Luis Obispo’s Coast National Bank, has entered into a written agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to help maintain the company’s financial health.

As part of the agreement, issued by the Reserve Bank on Thursday, Coast Bancorp’s board of directors has been ordered to take steps to use its financial and management resources to “serve as a source of strength to the bank,” including making sure the bank complies with a previous written agreement entered into with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in February 2009. The OCC is a government agency that regulates nationally chartered banks and is the primary regulator of Coast National Bank.

Coast National Bank entered into the formal written agreement with the OCC after the regulator found “unsafe and unsound banking practices relating to credit risk management, problem credit supervision and violations of law at the bank.”

Among other things, OCC regulators ordered the bank not to extend credit to troubled borrowers unless the bank’s board approved and unless an extension of credit promoted the best interest of the bank.

Gwen Pelfrey, the bank’s chief operating officer, said bank officials are already complying with what the OCC has outlined, and that the Federal Reserve Bank action “mirrors that of the OCC formal agreement.”

“The things they (Reserve Bank) have asked for are the same items that are already in the OCC action,” she said.

Under the latest agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank, which supervises and has the authority to take formal enforcement actions against bank holding companies, the holding company can’t declare or pay any dividends without the prior written approval of the Reserve Bank and the director of the Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation of the Board of Governors. Moreover, it cannot take dividends or any other form of payment “representing a reduction in capital from the bank” without the Fed’s prior approval.

Also, Coast Bancorp cannot incur, increase or guarantee any debt, or purchase or redeem any shares of its stock without the Fed’s prior written approval. The holding company must submit a written plan to the Fed, including a cash flow projection for each calendar year after 2010, within 60 days.

The agreement also states that written progress reports must be submitted to the Reserve Bank within 30 days after the end of each calendar quarter.

With more than $153 million in assets and $139 million in liabilities, Coast National Bank posted a $4.9 million loss for the year ending Dec. 31, 2009, according to the FDIC website.

As of Dec. 31, the bank had a tier-1 capital ratio — a measure of a bank’s capital adequacy — of 11.71 percent, which is considered well-capitalized under federal regulatory guidelines.

— Julie Lynem

SLO County has new career centers

The California Workforce Investment Board recently opened two new One Stop Career Centers in San Luis Obispo County.

The centers assist job seekers by offering Internet access, phones, and fax machines; job listings, career counseling, and referrals to employment-related programs.

The new One-Stop Career Center is located at 1800 Grand Ave. in Grover Beach.

Additionally, the Creekside Career Center in San Luis Obispo moved to its new location at the Goodwill Headquarters at 880 Industrial Way and has been renamed the Business and Career One Stop of San Luis Obispo.

Services are still available in the North County at the Estrella Career Center on the Cuesta College campus in Paso Robles. All three centers are open Monday through Friday except holidays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Shoreline Workforce Development Services, a division of Goodwill Industries, received funding in July from the Workforce Investment Board to be the operator of the One Stop system in San Luis Obispo.

Shoreline is responsible for organizing services at the three local centers with the state Department of Social Services, the state Employment Development Department, Cuesta College and Path Point.

— Julia Hickey

Book praises SLO area for local foods

A handful of Central Coast businesses are singled out for praise in the new book “Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods.”

Written by Tracey Ryder and Carole Topalian of Ojai, the book focuses on the local-foods movement, highlighting farmers, ranchers, fishermen, chefs and “foodies” in six regions of the United States.

The San Luis Obispo area receives a mention in the chapter California and the West.

The authors begin with a nod to ’Ncredible Edibles, a San Luis Obispo company that specializes in food-filled landscaping, water harvesting and other sustainable practices.

“These folks are on fire, transforming abandoned backyards or grass front lawns into food forests,” Ryder and Topalian write.

The book also mentions Clark Valley Farm in Los Osos, Central Coast Brewing in San Luis Obispo and Nature’s Touch Nursery and Harvest, which has stores in Atascadero and Templeton.

In addition, the book praises three companies in northern Santa Barbara County: American Flatbread Pizza (also known as Full of Life Flatbread) in Los Alamos, Fairview Gardens in Goleta and La Nogalera Walnut Oil in Buellton.

“Edible: A Celebration of Local Foods” is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

— Sarah Linn