A Works Project Administration-era post office in Santa Monica has been approved for a relocation plan despite objections from community members and city officials.
The U.S. Postal Service announced Aug. 17 that it has approved the proposal to relocate retail services from the Santa Monica Post Office at 1248 Fifth St., to a carrier annex facility less than a mile away at 1653 Seventh St.
Postal officials have said the move is among pending relocations or closures nationwide as the Postal Service seeks to reduce costs and generate revenue through the sales of its buildings.
According to a recent report, the federal agency, which is not supported by tax dollars, experienced a net loss of $5.2 billion in the third fiscal quarter. Contributing significantly to the loss was $3.1 billion in expenses for a congressional mandated prefunding of retiree health benefits, the report said. Total mail volume has also dropped 20 percent in the past three years, the agency said.
Some residents have objected to the plan, arguing that the current post office is in a central part of the city and the annex property is away from the downtown area, creating potential safety concerns for those who would have trouble accessing it. Residents have also expressed concerns about possible impacts to the historic characteristics of their post office, which was built in 1937.
Santa Monica City Council members unanimously approved a motion Aug. 14 to notify the Postal Service of their desires for the Fifth Street post office to remain open to the public and continue providing retail and mail services.
Following the Postal Service’s announcement, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Santa Monica) issued a statement about his opposition to the decision.
“Today I was troubled to learn that the USPS plans to sell the main branch of the Santa Monica Post Office. The entire city relies on the Santa Monica Post Office to mail packages, buy stamps, and rent post office boxes. It is as much a part of the community as Palisades Park, Santa Monica Pier and City Hall,” the congressman wrote. “While I understand USPS is under enormous pressure to cut costs, closing this iconic building, which has served the residents of Santa Monica since 1938, will do little to improve the Postal Service’s long-term financial position.”
Postal Service representatives held a community meeting in Santa Monica on July 19, and a written public comment period was open from June 26 through Aug. 3 to gather public comments. All public input received was then forwarded to USPS headquarters in Washington, D.C., where the final decision was made, Postal Service spokesman Richard Maher said.
Under the approved plan retail lobby service, post office box delivery and bulk business mail acceptance will move, but a date for the relocation has not yet been determined. There will be no change in post office box numbers or ZIP code, and the agency plans to sell the Fifth Street building after operations are transferred, Maher said.
The decision may be appealed within 15 days to:
Vice President of Facilities,
Pacific Facilities Service Office, 1300 Evans Ave. Ste. 200, San Francisco, CA 94188-0200.