The U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission has rejected an appeal to overturn the U.S. Postal Service’s decision to close the Venice Post Office and consolidate operations with a nearby facility.

In a decision issued Jan. 24, the PRC dismissed the appeal filed by the Venice Stakeholders Association and held that the transfer of retail operations from the Venice Post Office at 1601 Main St. to the carrier annex property at 313 Grand Blvd. constitutes a relocation, which is not subject to appeal.

The stakeholders association, in its appeal, noted that the plan will result in the elimination of a large retail post office with five customer windows for a much smaller retail operation with no more than two customer windows. The dramatic decrease in size of the retail operations is equivalent to a closure, the group argued, but the Postal Service countered that the plan is a relocation because retail services will continue to be provided 400 feet away, to which the PRC agreed.

“Petitioners’ remaining claims that the relocation amounts to a ‘constructive closing’ are not persuasive,” the PRC decision states. “To meet the community’s need for postal services, the Postal Service is renovating the carrier annex including the provision of retail window service and post office boxes.”

Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, said the group’s attorneys are looking into the prospects of a potential lawsuit to challenge the postal regulatory board’s decision.

Richard Maher, spokesman for the Postal Service in Los Angeles, said the agency expected a decision in its favor based on other cases involving relocations, and the Postal Service now intends to move ahead with its plan.

Venice residents have united on a variety of fronts to fight the closure of their post office, which was built under the Work Projects Administration and contains a 1941 mural by Edward Biberman. The community is seeking a nomination of the structure on the National Register of Historic Places, which they hope will help preserve its historic characteristics and access to the “Story of Venice” mural.

Whether or not the post office is approved on the national historic register, its historic characteristics will be maintained through covenants conveyed to the future buyer as an attachment to the building’s deed, Maher said.

“The Postal Service has intended all along to treat it as (historic) and we will move ahead in that spirit,” he said.

If further closure appeals prove futile, Ryavec said community members are working with officials to devise mitigation measures to be attached to the deed to ensure the historic features are protected. The community will additionally work to ensure that the annex proposal is in compliance with issues such as zoning and planning regulations and parking requirements, he said.

The post office had been taken off the market pending the appeal decision, but the Postal Service hopes to have the property relisted soon as it moves forward with the relocation process, Maher said.

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