In your editorial regarding the zoning overhaul in Baltimore City (“Transforming Baltimore,” Oct. 29), you noted that it might be a good thing in some circumstances to subject zoning decisions to the political process rather than have clearly defined rules and processes. To support your contention, you cited an example of check cashing businesses having to be approved by the council and noted that the council member could serve a valuable role in protecting the community.
The question becomes, “Protect the community from what?” Check cashers (better described as financial service centers) provide under-served communities the ability to conduct basic financial transactions in businesses operating with state check cashing licenses and having to submit to the regulations overseen by the state’s Division of Financial Regulation that limits the fees that can be charged and provides for consumer protections. In addition, many check cashers are classified as money service businesses and as such they are required to register with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, abide by the Bank Secrecy Act and other federal regulations.
Both the state and federal regulators conduct on-site examinations to ensure compliance. Numerous studies have confirmed that consumers make a deliberate choice to conduct transactions at financial service centers because the services offered are both relevant and convenient to the consumer and provided at a transparent and fair price. The proposed over-reaching zoning requirements on check cashers will do nothing but further limit the ability of many city residents to be able to conveniently conduct their financial transactions as they desire.
Neil Goldstein, Baltimore