Eight of the 11 former Ventura County branches of Santa Barbara Federal Savings that were acquired last month by Bank of America will be shut down, the bank announced Friday. A Bank of America official would not say how many ex-employees of the defunct Santa Barbara thrift will lose their jobs in the changeover.
Neither Bank of America spokeswoman Betty Riess nor managers at the former Santa Barbara Federal locations would estimate how many of the firm's 500 employees throughout Southern and Central California will be out of work.
One former Santa Barbara employee, who said she faces being laid off in November, estimated that about one-third of the firm's work force is in Ventura County. "For all we know, every one of us will be out of work just before Christmas," said the worker, who asked for anonymity.
Another employee who faces being let go said she and her co-workers feel they were misled by Bank of America. "At first, they said we had such a beautiful office. Now, they're going to close the place down. All we have to look forward to is six weeks' severance pay."
According to Riess, the Santa Barbara employees "have been working on temporary contracts since we bought the company. Depending on their skills and the bank's needs, we expect some of them to be retained."
Riess said all deposits in the closed Santa Barbara offices will be transferred to nearby Bank of America branches at the close of business Nov. 7.
The former Santa Barbara Federal offices have been operating as temporary Bank of America branches since Aug. 9.
Customers' accounts will not be affected by the closures, said Riess. "There is absolutely no reason for customers to be concerned," she said. "All Santa Barbara accounts will be honored at the new locations."
In some cases, Riess said, "it will just be a matter of people having to walk across the street to do business at a Bank of America branch. In other cases, the new location could be as far as a couple of miles away."
But some customers aren't happy about the change. Dick Ramsey, who said he has been banking at Santa Barbara's branch at 3260 Telegraph Road in Ventura for 10 years, said: "It didn't bother me when the feds took over. But Bank of America is a different story. I'm going to change banks."
At one branch that is to remain open, an employee who refused to be identified said holders of Santa Barbara Federal checking accounts can continue writing checks until they receive new ones with Bank of America imprints.
The defunct thrift, based in Santa Barbara, had 44 branches and about 500 employees statewide when it was sold to Bank of America by the Resolution Trust Corp., the government agency that takes over troubled financial institutions.
Most of the branches were in Ventura, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Kern counties. Only nine of the 44 branches will remain open as Bank of America units, Riess said.
In Ventura County, the three former Santa Barbara Federal offices that will continue to operate as Bank of America branches after Nov. 7 are: 5800 Santa Rosa Road, Camarillo; 510 New Los Angeles Ave., Moorpark, and 2830 Cochran St., Simi Valley.
The eight offices to be closed in the county, and the Bank of America branches to which their accounts will be transferred, are in the following locations.
* In Ventura: 93 S. Chestnut St. and 3260 Telegraph Road, both to 2698 E. Main St.; 9432 Telephone Road to 1130 S. Victoria Ave.
* In Oxnard: 350 Esplanade Drive to 1855 N. Oxnard Blvd.; 2501 Saviers Road to 2475 Saviers Road.
* In Camarillo: 425 Arneill Road to 2400 E. Ponderosa Drive.
* In Fillmore: 838 Ventura St. to 552 Sespe Ave.
* In Santa Paula: 634 E. Main St. to 715 E. Main St.
Riess said the eight offices to be closed will remain the property of the Resolution Trust Corp. "I suppose they will either sell them or lease them out," she said.
Letters telling of the changeover were mailed early this week to customers of the former Santa Barbara branches, Riess said.
Bank of America, the nation's second largest bank in terms of assets, paid $41 million for Santa Barbara Federal, which was weakened by delinquent real estate loans. In the deal, Bank of America acquired $1.5 billion in deposits and about $62 million in the defunct thrift's assets.
In a much bigger deal, Bank of America has agreed to merge with Security Pacific Bank. Industry analysts have speculated that thousands of workers across the state may lose their jobs as a result of that transaction.
Times correspondent Paul Payne contributed to this story.