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California banks opt for longer window hours

While automated tellers are sprouting like dandelions around the US, face-to-face transactions with humans at financial institutions are growing on weekends in California. And that includes Sundays, as so-called bankers' hours become a thing of the past.

A number of savings-and-loan associations and some banks have maintained Saturday hours in recent years. Now the focus is on Sundays with two soon-to-debut institutions.

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Bel-Air Savings and Loan Association, scheduled to open in October in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood, plans to extend weekday hours and have its doors open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. ''We won't have an ATM (automated teller machine) since we'll be open on weekends,'' explained R. Lance Thomas, president.

Weekend hours also will allow access to safe-deposit boxes, an important feature for affluent west-side residents.

A Sunday session also is planned by the National Bank of Catalina, scheduled to start this fall on Santa Catalina Island, 22 miles from the California mainland. As the only bank headquartered on the island, it will be competing for business with a branch of Security Pacific National Bank, Los Angles. The island's permanent population is 2,400, but on weekends, when Security Pacific is not open, the island swarms with visitors. Santa Catalina attracted more than 1 million tourists last year.

National Bank of Catalina plans Saturday operations and extended weekday hours year-round in addition to Sunday hours during the peak season.

Actually, Sunday banking hours in California started in 1955 with the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim. A branch of Bank of America is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week most of the year, except on Mondays and Tuesdays when Disneyland is closed during the winter. Accommodating the many Disneyland visitors who run short of ready cash, the Bank of America office averages 600 checks cashed daily.

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