A large group of protestors wasted no time making their voices heard in support of a city ordinance that would regulate payday lenders and their interest rates on Wednesday.
The measure was brought forward by Councilman Diego Bernal, who believed regulation was needed, with interest rates of up to 800 percent being reported.
"Someone loses their transmission, gets a $2,500 dollar loan and has to pay back $9,000 dollars? It’s a disgrace,” said a passionate T.C. Calvert, speaking for the Neighborhoods First Alliance.
Supporters of the measure showed up in large numbers, as did those who make a living in the business.
“City Council should not be telling them how to best manage their finances,” exclaimed Diana Reyes, who represented Advance America.
That statement, she said, was a response from a survey that was taken by those who used payday lenders.
Various representatives from Lone Star Title Loan and Ace Cash Express also pleaded with the council, stating that it was a state matter and should not be part of a civic agenda. They used testimonials of happy customers to make their point.
"They keep coming back to us because we can say yes when those banks say no,” said one branch manager.
A city councilman from Dallas, which has passed a similar ordinance, weighed in, too.
"There’s not one single payday lending store (in Dallas) that’s gone out of business that I’m aware of,” said Councilman Jerry Allen of Dallas.
He believed that San Antonio should follow Dallas and Austin in passing the measure.
In the end, the council passed the ordinance, backing Diego Bernal.
Bernal assured the crowd that it was not a personal attack on payday lenders, but rather an attempt to provide a safety net for those who take out the loans.
San Antonio now becomes the third city in Texas behind Austin and Dallas to pass such an ordinance.