Red Tape Snipped in Establishing Laguna Beach S

Times Staff Writer

Orange County’s 23rd independent savings and loan is to open Monday in Laguna Beach, testimony to the tenacity of 18 area businessmen who tired of the long wait for state and federal approval to open a new S&L; in California.

Westport Savings Bank will occupy a former Coast Savings & Loan Assn. office on Coast Highway. Its Mission Viejo-based parent, Westport Savings Bank Corp., already is applying for state permission to open a branch in Mission Viejo. The new institution actually is an offshoot of a Central California S&L; founded in the 1970s and purchased about a year ago by the Orange County investor group as a means of shortcutting the average two-year wait for new S&Ls.;

By purchasing Kings Harvest Savings & Loan Assn. of Hanford, just south of Fresno, the investors, headed by Newport Beach financier Coalson Morris, got an established institution with three offices, two in Hanford and one in nearby Lemoore, and more than $70 million in assets, including a $40-million portfolio of mortgage loans.

They also were able to speed up the timetable for opening an Orange County savings institution by applying for state permission to operate as Kings Harvest in Northern California and as Westport in Southern California, and to open a Westport office in Orange County. Because everything was done under the auspices of an established S&L;, the paper-shuffling took much less time.


The investors also established Westport Savings Bank Corp. as Kings Harvest’s corporate parent, made Kings Harvest a division of Westport Savings Bank and moved the corporate headquarters from Hanford to Mission Viejo.

Charles H. T. Abts, a former senior vice president of the California League of Savings and an executive of several Southland S&Ls;, including Great Western and Columbia, has been named president and chief executive of Westport and Kings Harvest.

Morris is chairman of the boards of the Perry Morris Corp., Newport Beach, and Corporate National Bank of Orange, as well as chairman of Westport’s seven-member board of directors.