Our History


The Central Coast's leading Credit Union, serving members since 1958

Trace our long history from our humble roots to becoming one of the largest and most successful not-for-profit financial cooperatives on California’s Central Coast.

So many changes were happening in our region during the post-war boom. The military area known as Camp Cooke during and immediately after World War II soon developed into Vandenberg Air Force Base at the dawn of the missile age.

As the Air Force Base become a prominent fixture, its employees wanted to create a financial institution offering savings accounts and low-cost loans. Vandenberg Federal Credit Union (VFCU) was launched in the late 1950s, offering its first loan to a staff sergeant purchasing a car.

VFCU quickly established its reputation, earning an "Excellent" rating from the Federal Examiner for exceeding all standards for federally chartered military credit unions.

During this time, federal legislation created the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which supervises federal credit unions and insures deposits.

VFCU continued growing, exceeding $1 million in assets among more than 15,000 active members.

VFCU saw significant and interesting technological changes that we take for granted today:

  • An in-house computer system to replace the previously leased version
  • A new telephone system and the introduction of a California toll-free number
  • A new check-processing machine
  • The first Automatic Teller Machine (ATM), which was installed at the Main Office on base and named a "VandyTeller" following a naming contest

The Credit Union offered credit cards for the first time in 1985, soon followed by mortgages. And there were also notable expansions and relocations during this 10-year period:

  • A larger Main Office relocated on the Base.
  • The original Lompoc and Santa Maria branches opened.
  • The Vandenberg Village branch had its groundbreaking in early 1984, opening in December of that same year and was one of the first branches to offer safe deposit boxes and drive-up windows.
  • In 1985, the Orcutt Branch opened in the Oak Knolls Shopping Center, making the total count of five offices with six ATMs.
  • In 1987, the Lompoc Branch relocated to the current H St and Central Avenue location.

Technology continued to drive the Credit Union's growth. For the first time, telephone staff and selected branch locations were available early each day and late in to the evening. And finally, ATM cards could be used as debit cards at grocery stores, gas station and convenience stores.

New and/or upgraded ATMs were installed locally, too. This was also the first time VFCU participated in and/or sponsored more than 100 community events on the Central Coast, providing thousands of dollars to schools and community organizations.

Also of note, two branches opened during this time.

As VFCU celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1998, new developments occurred to speed up auto loan applications and to include VFCU in the nationwide Shared Branch Network.

But the biggest change during this time occurred in 2003 when Vandenberg Federal Credit Union was renamed CoastHills Federal Credit Union. The Credit Union's membership field had expanded beyond the Air Force Base and the new name made it clear CoastHills was here to serve everyone on the Central Coast.

CoastHills reached additional milestones during this period:

  • Opened new branches in Santa Maria and Five Cities
  • Merged with Atascadero Federal Credit Union
  • Reached $500 million in assets
  • Added our 50,000th member
  • Developed a Business Services department to support the local small business community
  • Hosted the inaugural Rancho Vino, which raised $25,000 for local food banks

A 50th anniversary celebration also marked the first time CoastHills reached $100,000 in donations to local area food banks through the CoastHills Community Foundation proceeds raised during Rancho Vino and Blue Jean Bash.

CoastHills became a State Chartered Credit Union in 2014, opening the field of membership from Santa Cruz through Ventura counties. The Credit Union soon reached $1 billion in assets and become the second-largest locally owned financial institution within our five counties.

Several other important debuts occurred:

  • Opened branches in downtown San Luis Obispo and Thousand Oaks
  • Started the High School Scholarship Program
  • Enhanced our online banking platform and mobile baking application
  • Introduced Super Checking and EMV debit/credit cards

Construction of the new corporate headquarters was completed in 2019, which includes a state-of-the-art member branch with ample parking, four drive-thru lanes and a large community room for employees and members to utilize.

This was the beginning of additional notable growth as a 90,000-square foot headquarters opened in Santa Maria in 2020, the same year we surpassed 70,000 members for the first time.

During the pandemic years, we provided more than $55 million in SBA PPP Loans to 1,032 local businesses at a time when some other financial institutions ignored small businesses and 99% of those loans received full forgiveness.

By end of 2021, CoastHills became a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), which allows us to provide additional critical support to low-to-moderate income households on the Central Coast.

A month later, CoastHills rang in 2022 by opening a 12th branch in Arroyo Grande as we continue to grow and focus on the needs of our Central Coast communities.

CoastHills Credit Union is a full-service financial institution with 12 Central Coast locations throughout Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

FAQs

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