Institution integrates banking operation

Mission Community Bank is consolidating its banking operations in San Luis Obispo County, a move the bank hopes will improve efficiency and cut costs.

The bank is shutting down its teller service at 3380 S. Higuera St., an office that also serves as Mission Community’s administrative headquarters.

The change is effective July 27, said spokesman Kevin Moon. Customers have been told that their accounts will be shifted to the Mission Community branch at 581 Higuera St., the bank’s original location in downtown San Luis Obispo. The ATM at the headquarters on South Higuera Street will remain.

Three employees have been affected by the elimination of teller service there, said Moon, noting that they have been reassigned to other locations.

At the same time, the bank is closing its office at 154 W. Branch St. in the Village of Arroyo Grande and consolidating that operation into the branch at 1550 E. Grand Ave, Moon said. Five people worked at that location. Two have decided to return to school and the bank found positions for the remaining employees.

Moon said customers at both locations were notified as early as April, but he did not know how many total customers would be affected by the changes.

Mission Community built the 14,000-square-foot, two-story building at 3380 S. Higuera St. about two years ago in an effort to consolidate Mission Community’s administrative offices and Business Banking Center into one location.

But Moon said bank officials recognized that the banking portion, which had been open for about a year, had not been “performing particularly well.”

“There was not as much distance between our downtown office, which opened in 1997-98 and this office to make a difference,” he said. “In trying to put the two banks together (Mission and Santa Lucia), we came to the conclusion that it would not be a big deal in terms of our customer base to close the banking portion and move customers to the downtown office.”

Last year, Mission Community bought Santa Lucia Bancorp of Atascadero with the help of Irvine-based Carpenter Fund, a private equity firm. In examining overall bank operations, officials came to a similar conclusion about the branch in the Village of Arroyo Grande, a small office not far from the more visible location on East Grand Avenue, Moon said. In addition, many customers are increasingly using online banking.

“In this day and age, with so much banking business in electronic format, the days of looking at a standalone branch as where the customers go, that is probably long gone,” he said.

In addition to San Luis Obispo and Arroyo Grande, Mission Community Bank, which opened in 1997, has offices in Atascadero, Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria, and a loan office in Oxnard.