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PCBC turns 50 with a back-to-basics plan

By   /   Monday, March 22nd, 2010  /   Comments Off on PCBC turns 50 with a back-to-basics plan

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Half a century after its founding, Pacific Capital Bancorp, the parent of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, is looking to return to its roots.

Santa Barbara National Bank opened March 18, 1960, at 20 E. Carrillo St. with 18 employees. A staid and tradition-bound community bank until an acquisition flurry in the 1990s, Pacific Capital became a regional banking force with 46 branches from the Los Angeles County line to the southern edge of the Silicon Valley and more than 1,000 employees.

But a decade and a half of growing profits, mergers and new lending practices took Pacific Capital far away from its Central Coast home and led to trouble with soured real estate loans and pressure from regulators. After a tough year, Chief Executive Officer George Leis said the bank is working back to the original business model, a move that California Lutheran University economist Bill Watkins said could help the bank raise capital and remain independent as the economy turns around.

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