City Council District 5
City Council District 5

 

Saving The Landscape Station Post Office

March 30, 2010

The citizens of Berkeley have until the end of April to formally comment on the closure of the Landscape Post Office on Solano Avenue.  Here are ways to make your opinion known:

  1. Sign a petition opposing the closure.  The petition is available at the KNA Copy Centre at 1865 Solano Avenue.  (We understand that though addresses are optional on the petition, signatures accompanied by addresses will have more weight in the decision process.)
  2. Circulate a petition in your neighborhood.  Blank petitions are also available at KNA Copy Centre.
  3. Send a personal letter, or signed petitions, to:
Ellie Loose
Re: Landscape Station Post Office
United States Postal Service
1675 7th Street
Oakland, CA  94615-9500

Any letter or petition must be received in Oakland by Thursday, April 30, 2010.  Be sure to send them by at least Saturday, April 24, 2010.

People should sign even if they do not use the PO services because Landscape Station is an essential part of the fabric of our community.

  • The Landscape post office helps local and nearby businesses, where postal patrons shop after visiting the post office. Businesses at the top of Solano Avenue have been hard hit by the recession and closure of Landscape would be another blow.
  • Many seniors and people without cars routinely walk to Landscape Station to conduct their post office business. It would be a hardship for many of these people to lose this resource.
  • Many local businesses and residents have long maintained PO Boxes at Landscape Station. Losing or relocating those boxes would be difficult, especially for businesses.
  • Landscape is a profitable station. The USPS seems to assume that patrons will simply shift their business to other branches, but it's also possible that the USPS will lose more customers to private companies such as FedEx and UPS, thereby producing a greater economic loss by closing Landscape.
  • Closing even all 162 branches proposed for closure will make virtually no impact on the US Postal Services' multi-billion dollar annual deficit. The way to solve the USPS financial problems is for the USPS to re-examine its business model, and for citizens to press Congress to adequately subsidize national mail delivery, an essential national and local service hard hit by email, private sector competition skimming profitable business segments, etc.
  • The Post Office has been at the top of Solano for more than 60 years. It's an integral part of our community.

 

Background: Posted March 9, 2010

As reported in my last news letter, the United State Post Office has proposed closing three post office branches in Berkeley, including the Landscape Station at the top of Solano Avenue.  The financial woes of the Postal Service have received much press lately and the closure of branch offices is one small step towards solvency.

On Wednesday, March 3, 2010, the USPS hosted a neighborhood meeting at Thousand Oaks School and invited residents specifically in 94707 to come voice their opinions about the proposal.  Dozens of people spoke eloquently about the negative impacts the closure would bring to the neighborhood and business district, and the hardship for businesses that identify their business mailing address with a post box at that station.

Beyond what we all agree will be the neighborhood consequences of a closure, here are a few other things we learned:

  • USPS is currently looking at closing 161 stations country wide, 3 of them in Berkeley

  • Berkeley/Albany/El Cerrito have the highest concentration of post office, one per square mile, more than any other area in the country.

  • Though the Landscape business is profitable, their on-site expenses do not reflect their burden of the costs of national mail delivery through the USPS.

  • Many residents felt as if service at the Landscape Station had deteriorated in recent years, creating a self-fulfilling reduction in patronage.

  • Residents often experience unacceptably long lines at the two closest post offices (Albany and North Shattuck), discouraging them from using services there.

  • Many proposed closures were taken off the list because of significant public outcry.

There is no doubt in my mind that the USPS has to make radical changes in order to improve their bottom line.    The case that we need to make to USPS staff and our federal representatives is that closing this station is a bad business decision.  Because of significant private competition, consolidation does not necessarily mean customers will use other USPS facilities.  They may well become regular customers of private mail box businesses, UPS and Fed Ex.

The larger picture is not simply the closure of our beloved Landscape Station.  If the USPS cannot resolve this crisis they may well go away all together and we will witness the next phase of privatization of government services. The current USPS business model is not sustainable. So when you communicate to our Senator and Congress people, be aware that if we really want a viable and comprehensive federal postal service like the model we have now, it needs to be subsidized by the federal government.  They cannot survive with the required mandates to deliver to everyone, everywhere at a standard rate and still be competitive with the private sector. 

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