Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Venice) has joined in support of an appeal to the U.S. Postal Service’s decision to close the historic Venice Post Office.
Hahn is calling for the Postal Regulatory Commission to remand the Postal Service’s decision to sell the post office at 1601 Main St. and relocate retail operations to the nearby annex property, supporting an appeal to the commission by the Venice Stakeholders Association.
Many residents have united to challenge the closure of the Main Street structure, which was built under the Work Projects Administration and contains a 1941 mural by Edward Biberman.
The stakeholders’ appeal states that the plan would 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 essentially a closure, or at least a partial closure, and thus is subject to an appeal, the stakeholders group says.
In a letter to Jack Callender of the Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) Office of General Counsel, Hahn said residents have told her that the current level of customer service at the post office has not met the Postal Service’s standard of providing window services within five minutes. She expressed concerns that the loss of three customer windows at the new facility will lead to an even lower level of service for residents.
“I have been informed in meeting with Diana Alvarado of USPS’ Pacific Facilities Services Office that it has decided to close three customer service windows and relocate the remaining two windows to the Venice Carrier Annex at considerable expense. This is unacceptable,” Hahn wrote.
Richard Maher, spokesman for the Postal Service, said the move is not classified as a closure or discontinuance because retail operations will still be provided 400 feet away at the annex site.
Referring to the decrease in the number of customer windows, Maher said it is not unusual for the number of windows to be reduced because they are based on the number of transactions, which have been declining at facilities across the country.
Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, said the law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher LLP will represent the group’s appeal of the post office closure on a pro bono basis. The firm filed for a two-week extension of the filing deadline for the group’s brief to allow counsel adequate time to prepare the appeal, he said.
“We believe that the Postal Service has made some errors in its execution of the closure process,” Ryavec said. “We also think they need to re-think this decision and re-focus on selling the postal annex, an old Safeway store, instead of the historic post office, which has more than enough capacity to house all the Venice-area postal carriers and customer services.”