Something We Can No Longer Bank On

Wading straight into a raging controversy — does Westport have enough banks, or could we use several dozen more? — the Planning & Zoning Commission is ready to act.

A public hearing next Thursday (Sept. 16) will consider a proposed text amendment that would — be still, my heart! — restrict where banks can be located within our borders.

A bank that no human being has ever been spotted entering or exiting.

As trend-setting as Westport is, we may not be leading the pack here.  According to P&Z director Laurence Bradley, other towns have recently passed similar measures.

The reason:  “Banks have a tendency to detract from the fabric of vibrant commercial areas, as they do not generate a lot of foot traffic and they are not opening evenings and weekends.”

Bradley added that with an average bank-to-household ratio of 1:320, Westport is “substantially ‘over-banked'” when compared to our neighbors.

Wilton has 1 bank for every 508 families.  Fairfield — often held up as the image of what “Westport used to be,” and lauded for a vibrant downtown that has zoomed past ours in terms of nightlife, restaurants and general hipness — lags far behind us in bankitude.  Folks there make do with 1 bank for every 656 households.

Whatever the P&Z decides, “06880” hopes there’s enough gas left in the tank to tackle an issue far more serious than over-banking:

Nail salons.

(Thursday’s meeting is set for 7 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.  However, the bank text amendment is not the 1st item on the agenda.)

45 responses to “Something We Can No Longer Bank On

  1. Why not set quotas for every type of establishment? Why stop at banks? Does anyone have the smarts to think these sorts of ordinances through? Let’s just build at town that Dan likes, screw everyone else.

  2. Thinking about limiting the number of banks in Westport (and Fairfield County in general) is certainly closing the doors on an empty barn.

  3. Westport residents are about to get crushed by a reval that will shift tax burden from commercial property to residential property. And P&Z wants to further devalue commercial real estate in town by messing with the supply/demand equation. Brilliant. Don’t get me started on the RTM’s decision to turn the West Bank /National Hall area into a ghost town. Can we dispense with the amateur government please?

  4. When the new bank was built on the southwest (?) corner of the Post Road and Compo Rd. [diagonally across from People’s] , I thought… the last thing Westport needs is another bank – I wonder how long they’ll last there.

    Now I’m realizing the last thing Westport needs is P&Z messing with the laws of supply and demand. Years ago P&Z tried it with the 1500 foot rule for bars and just recently that was revoked… next thing they’ll try and limit drug stores, ice cream shops… or perhaps pizza places.

    Hey Dan Woog, maybe it’s time to ask 06880 readers what businesses they would like to see limited by the P&Z. I bet you’d see lots of comments!

    • We should so a survey of soccer fields. If we have more per capita than nearby towns we should elminate some and restrict their locations. You can’t make this stuff up. We are governed by nitwits.

      • That would definitely be an interesting survey, Jeffxs. And I can tell you what it would find: Compared to every town in the area, Westport is vastly “under-soccer-fielded.” Be careful what you wish for.

        • What I wish for is competence on the part of those who make up the political class in Westport. After 32 years of observations, I have come to realize that the empirical evidence points the other way. How about opening a casino, wouldn’t that increase foot traffic? The proposal represents a potential windfall for existing banks. In Chicago we would ask who is buttering Bradley’s bread.

  5. Jeffxs-“Mr Negativity”at it again! If you think there is so much wrong w/ Westport and those that govern it why don’t you do something about it instead spewing your cesspool of negativity!

    • The Dude Abides

      kbw: Jeffxs has a distinct voice of candor that makes one think. Your words of cynicism are worse. On a more serious note, nearly 3,000 of the 8,000 banks in this country are “under-water” with the FDIC having a “hit list” of nearly 1,000 presently. And these banks are not “too big to fail.” So the old rules of supply and demand may just solve the issue without our so-called government meddling in the mix.

    • Asked and answered in an earlier thread.

  6. The Dude Abides

    On a sidenote, the bank you have pictured is Patriot National Bank, an institution heavily invested in construction loans and from my sources, gasping for air to stay alive in this un-friendly building bust.

  7. The entire concept here is to gain some commercial property that can actually survive and PAY TAXES as well as enliven a semi-dying, once incredibly hip, vibrant town. Those of you who seem to think that supply/demand will do the trick this time around probably are still believers in “trickle down” and the Laffer Curve let alone the (formerly?) coked up Larry Kudlow. I first began visiting Westport 44 years ago this summer. In the 70’s I rented houses for the summer and became a resident in 1980, this month. Two of my children as well as my (current) wife have been Staples students during Dan’s tenure. And I think Westport’s government has done a terrific job the last 13-14 years.

    It is disappointing to read the beyond negative comments of the same gang (and I do mean gang as in “gang up on someone or something”) each day as I read Dan’s terrific blog.

    • So you think P&Z should be allowed to decide how many banks there should be in town?

    • I’m a believer in ‘trickle-down economics’, more than I am of ‘trickle-up poverty’.

      I’ve seen both and I would take Reagan’s economic model of ‘supply-side economics’ over Obama’s ‘spread the wealth’ of trickle-up poverty.

      You may disagree with me, but you would be disagreeing with the majority of this great Country and will have confirmation in 52 days and counting.

      The only one happy right now is Jimmy Carter, his ranking just went up from dead last, to second from dead last in the ranking of great Presidents!

      • Oh, and I forgot to link this AP story from today that says poverty has gone up the most since they have kept records of any President. Lyndon Johnson holds the record for second place after he declared his ‘war on poverty’; see a trend here?!

      • I am not sure that when you inherit a 3 trillion dollar deficit, two wars and a sinking Wall Street that any economic policy is really going to work. The GOP took over in 1994 under great times and did well until following 911 when they went into a spending spree chasing the invisible Osama. I agree that perhaps both Houses will change in November but not so sure that the Republicans are the answer. They weren’t exactly fiscally conservative under ’43. Say what you will be about Jimmy but he may be one of the best ex-Presidents we have ever had.

        • Obama has created more debt in 19 months than all Presidents COMBINED from George Washington through Ronald Reagan.
          Read it and weep:

          • Rude and Smooth

            That just isn’t true and you can cite all your websites you wish. The old saying of believing half of what you hear and none of what you read holds true with your antics of finding convenient articles to argue your point. TARP was under the Bush Administration and the Stimulus a reaction by the Obama presidency to the Wall Street downturn that was much overlooked during 8 years of ’43. Most of the legislation passed by the current Congress does not go into effect
            for years so the expenditures are not incured for years. Further, Obama has had one budget he has proposed compared with 13 of FDR and 8 of Bush or Clinton. Your comparative conclusion is nonsensical.

          • The $800 billion pork barrel was Obama’s program. ( Remember the promise that unemployment would not go over 8%.) The CBO forecasts that should Obama’s policies be enacted going forward, we will experience deficits of $1 trillion or more for as least 10 years. The $1.7 trillion deficit for the current fiscal year is the largest in history.

        • There was not a $3 trillion deficit in January of 2009 any more than there were Martians on Main Street this weekend. In 1994 we were not experiencing great economic times, that is why the Republicans won control of both houses. Obama has chosen to continue the two wars and keep open Gitmo. Unfortunately for Democrats, Obama’s economic record is his and his alone. Banks have been regulated for almost 100 years. Regulations have not stopped bank failures or economic instability. In the late 1970’s during the Carter regime, a loosening of bank regulations began because of the disintermediation that accompanied double digit interest rates and the Feds fears that it would lose control of the financial markets should it continue.

          • Rude and Smooth

            Actually it was the deregulation of the S&L’s by Reagan in ’82
            that spurred the wild cat speculation of the institutions and led
            to insovlency. The commerical banks followed as a result of the collapse of the fall in ’87.

          • Thanks Jeffxs!
            Rude and Smooth can’t handle the truth!..and just dismisses facts as random Internet myths.
            And Princeton ’82 thinks Jimmy Carter was the best President ever!…yeah, okay…now I have an idea of what type of person I’m dealing with here. And a Yugo should have been Car of the Year then too!
            See you in November boys! and then we’ll talk again in 2012!

          • The S&L’ s were never deregulated so it didn’t happen under anybody. Regulation Q was phased out under the Monetary Control Act of 1980. Reagan was not President at that time, Carter was. Reg Q changed, but the industry remained regulated. It was the phase out of Reg Q that forced the S&L’s to compete with commercial banks for deposits. The S&L’s could not play that game.

  8. What do you suppose will allow any business to stay open if not supply and demand? The toothfairy? As to the quality of Westport’s government, I guess your evaluation reflects your standards doesn’t it? Some of us expect more.

    • Rude and Smooth,
      You don’t think Jimmy Carter’s ‘Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 and then again pushed by Bill Clinton and Barney Frank had nothing to do with the Sub-Prime and subsequent bust?
      Hate to bust your bubble, but it wasn’t Ronald Wilson Reagan.

      • Rude and Smooth

        As to the above comments, I don’t really like either party but I think it is sophmoric to blame Obama for much of the economic woes of today. Jeffxs has a point as to the continuance of certain policies (e.g the wars) that have not helped but I take exception that TARP was certainly Bush-Paulson and the Democratic Congress. Further, I believe it was stated that Carter was the best “ex-President” which I concur. Certainly Johnson, Ford, Reagan, either Bush and Clinton have done little compared with Jimmy’s Habitat for the Humanity and other such endeavors. To Mr. Raho: You seem to take this so personally as to indicate that you will be “right” come November or 2012. This isn’t a Red Sox-Yankee skirmish. It is the future of the country. It is not good guys versus bad. Your rhetoric of such nature does more to turn off listeners than to convert them.

        • Jimmy Carter is a fraud who ran for Governor of Georgia with Lester Maddox as Lt. Governor. I lived in Georgia when carter was governor. He is a truly dim bulb.

          • Rude and Smooth

            I don’t dispute his incompetence at government although
            “dim” seems a little severe considering he held a Ph’d. But
            his humanitarian efforts, by comparison to other former Presidents,
            is impressive.

      • Innocent Bystander

        I am not sure everyone to the right seems to put President
        Reagan on a pedastal. His first term was diastrous with
        the economy in a tailspin and his popularity way low. He raised
        taxes six times and his trickle down economics hardly worked.
        His Star Wars compulsion was a financial and military failure
        and while he is credited with ending communism (“Tear Down that
        Wall”), he could not reach a non-proliferation agreement with the
        Russians. His Iran-Contra debacle almost led to impeachment and
        although hardly his fault, he was clearly senile toward the end of his second term. So I don’t why that during the ’08 election that the GOP was Reagan this and Reagan that. He was a likable guy who did a good job of “acting” like a President. The despictable Nixon was far more innovative in policy than the Gipper.

        • Under Reagan, inflation declined, unemployment declined, interest rates declined, the stock market soared, and the bond market began a 25 year bull run, and real growth resumed. Reagan and Volker ended 10 years of stagflation. I wouldn’t mind a repeat of the Reagan/Volker record, we would all be better off.

          • He did all that and defeated Communism!
            Only in a liberal’s mind is that a bad thing.

          • Rude and Smooth

            Do you recall October 19, 1987??? Such prosperity was abundant during the Bubba years indicating that the President, however incompetent or competent, has little to do with the economy.

          • Mr. Raho: Watch the labels for they mean nothing. I am reminded of JFK’s reaction to such branding: “If by ‘Liberal’, you mean someone who is soft on policies abroad, who is against local government and who is unconcerned with the taxpayer’s dollar, then I am not that kind of ‘Liberal.” But if by ‘Liberal” you mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who who welcomes new ideas without rigid reaction, someone who cares about the welfare of the people, someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, then I am proud to say I am a ‘Liberal.” 9/14/60 Fifty years ago Tuesday and you are still using the same ole terminology.

          • Rude: In 1987 the stock market was up for the year, the real economy grew, and unemployment was far below 9.6%. I’ll take it.
            Jimmy Carter did not earn a Ph.d anywhere, that is a myth. Which Humanitarian efforts? Describing Apartheid in Israel? Toadying up to Hamas? Carter is a complete and total fraud from top to bottom. Remember the “killer rabbit.” How abour Carter’s UFO sighting? The man is a joke.

        • Princeton: JFK cut the highest marginal tax rates, and rebuilt military spending. Have you seen any other Democrat propose similar policies lately?

      • Mr. Raho:
        You must have missed earlier postings by Curious on this site.
        The Dude Abides, Innocent Bystander, Rude and Smooth, Cranky old Man, Old Gunney, Conspicuous Constipation and, yes, most likely Jeffxs, are all the same person often taking different sides in debates that this one person decides to stir up. He uses many many more aliases besides those. Rude a/k/a Innocent a/k/a Dude having closed 119 banks in 5 states as an atty for the U. S. Treasury hardly needs a lecture on Reg Q from Jeffxs—-unless someone is creating false controversy to draw well meaning people like you in.
        The technique has a rich tradition. Alexander Hamilton employed it during the American Revolution. It is the purest form of free speech. Yada yada yada.
        Someone said elsewhere on this site that he wished people wouldn’t respond to negative off-topic comments. The person making those off-topic comments typically supplies the replies as well.
        To be fore warned is to be fore armed!

        • The heart of the matter was not Reg Q but the disintermediation brought about by government meddling in the financial markets. As someone who was a banker in the 1970’s, I can say that the elimination of Reg Q was a game changer, but it was not a cause but an effect. Banks and S&L’s remain regulated today, they were never “deregulated.” By my calculation, there are only two of us here ever, you and I.

        • I have made a serious review of your allegations and find them to be without merit. For one, all such call names may be the same person but have a similar message with the exception of Jeffxs, who always stands alone. There is hardly a pseudonym psychosis evident unless, of course, you are the aforementioned writers. Further, not only did Alexander Hamilton use various names but Samuel Clements fancied many call names in his letters to the “Hartford Courant”. As has also been pointed out previously, why is the messenger more important than the message?? In my review, I don’t find any entries under your present pen name nor anything of substance or added interest. Further, I believe Mr. Raho has done quite well in handling his own exchange of comments and Mr. Woog in supervising his blog. Lastly, your assumption is incorrect: Reg Q far superceeded the failure and subsequent closure of nearly 368 commercial banks in the first bank crisis where the the new laws, under FIRREA, were applicable.

          • You have misapprehended my entire argument which was based upon a testable hypothesis and not an assumption made a priori. Government interference in the market place creates destabilizations and the mis-allocation of scarece resources. You seem unable to grasp the dynamics of the S&L “crisis”, which was wholly manufactured by the Government, but so be it,

          • The Dude Abides

            Jeffxs: I have an entirely different reality of the S&L crisis and the failure of commercial banks that followed in the late 1980’s-early 1990’s. I was active in the govenment’s “Southwest Plan” involving Savings and Loans that were taken over by ruthless developers as a result of the federal legislation in 1982, as noted above. Many of them were used as personal ATM machine with “brother-in-law” loans and the like. I relate their demise to the greed of those who had previously been prohibited from being such shareholders. The commercial banks that failed later were more a result of the economic turndown and stupid loans in good times that backfired. Much like today. It is true, I have no idea what you are talking about?

        • Arthur Champlin

          “It is the purest form of free speech. Yada, yada, yada”. That may be one the dumbest things I have ever read on this blog.

  9. Innocent Bystander

    The banks made some bad loans prior to an economic turndown. They are suffering. No bailout for commercial banks. It may be a simplied “supply and demand” but it is what it is. Westport sold its soul to the commercial establishment beginning with Stauffer Chemical in the 70’s. They now live and die by such. Good local government in the good times, not so good in the bad. No one is ganging up on anyone here. But if you think everything is “just fine” with 19 million unemployed, two wars and a recession that will continue to affect this town, you are way off base.

  10. Arthur Champlin

    You have been associated with this town since 1970 and you are disappointed by the negativism, dissent and ganging up on each other?? By God man, have you been wearing rose-colored glasses for forty years. That is the essence of Westport and what makes this place “hip” and special. Don’t put out the fire. It needs dousing with gasoline. Most of our citizens have gone to sleep in Stepford comas.

  11. Leave Out the Government

    Let supply and demand decide. For many years there were three markets on Main St and two supermarkets across the street from each other on the Post Road. Plus another supermarket just up the hill. And other markets scattered throughout town. And two hardware stores on Main St and others scattered throughout town. Now others can make more money selling other things besides sandpaper, nails, bread and dog food. It didn’t take the government to decide.

  12. Rude and Smooth

    Leave Out the Government: I totally agree with you in regard to local government but when it comes to banks, there is the necessity of federal government intervention as to examining the institutions and closing them when they become insolvent.