Pasadena has had its postal issues in recent years.
I ranted and railed, as did others, when the “Pasadena” frank disappeared from our mail after well over a century. Now everything we send is franked “Santa Clarita,” ’cause that’s where everything goes, even if you’re mailing a postcard across the street.
It was a sentimental plea, and it’s true that I’m against all things Santa Clarita; in any case, I didn’t succeed in saving “Pasadena.”
The move was in the interest of efficiency, same as having a Fed Ex package go through a regional hub even if that place seems far away, I suppose.
And I suppose that the press release from the USPS that led to our front-page story of today about the East Pasadena post office moving to a smaller facility several blocks down Colorado from its current location next month is right: The downturn in the economy is affecting the P.O. the same as everyone else.
Fewer pieces of mail are moving. That’s why lots of blue boxes on corners are either disappearing or having pickup hours cut back as well.
But, while many of you digiterati may pay your bills electronically and never need a stamp or a place to put an envelope that needs to get out by 3, I go to post offices all the time.
Well, I go to the one down the block from our Pasadena office, the Catalina branch, all the time. After many years, I know when to go in and not find a line. (Hint: Skip the entire month of December.) I know all the people behind the counter there. Real nice folks.
I went into a downtown Covina post office recently, and it was a mistake — long line of people mailing big things to Central America. But the service as usual in recent years was fine — one clerk came and worked the line to see if there were people doing simple things she could help them with.
But I am informed that there are complex federal regulations that have been in place for a decade governing steps that have to be taken before the USPS can just up and move from one place to another. And I have pasted those regulations below for all to see, if you’re interested.
Unless I’m mistaken and those regulations apply only to a city or area’s main post office, and not to anything that might be considered a branch office, then the postal service is doing this all wrong. It’s moving with just over a month’s notice to the public, and it’s not
getting local high officials involved or holding anything like a hearing. If you’re interested, you can judge for yourself if I’m right. If you’re someone from the P.O., and you think I’m wrong, please let me know in what way I’m wrong.
The following is an excerpt from the federal policy on P.O.s:
FACILITY RELOCATION REGULATIONS
39 CFR Part 241
Expansion, Relocation, Construction of New Post Offices
241.4 EXPANSION, RELOCATION, AND CONSTRUCTION OF POST OFFICES
(1)This section applies when the USPS contemplates any one of the following projects with respect to a customer service facility: expansion, relocation to another existing building, or new construction, except when the project is to meet an emergency requirement or for temporary use. Emergency situations include, but are not limited to, earthquakes, floods, fire, lease terminations, safety factors, environmental causes, or any other actions that would force an immediate relocation from an existing facility. Temporary relocation of space is used for, but not limited to, holidays, special events, or for overflow business. Use of emergency and temporary space will be limited to 180 days in duration. Any additional incremental time periods of up to 180 days each must be approved by the Vice President, Facilities.
The purpose of the procedures required by this section is to assure increased opportunities for members of the communities who may be affected by certain USPS facility projects, along with local officials, to convey their views concerning the contemplated project and have them considered prior to any final decision to expand, relocate to another existing building, or construct a new building that is owned or leased.
(c) Expansion, relocation, new construction.
When a need is identified that will require the expansion, relocation, or new construction of a customer service facility, postal representatives responsible for the project will take the following steps in accordance with the time schedule shown:
(1) Personally visit one or more of the highest ranking local public officials (generally individuals holding elective office). During the visit, the postal representatives will –
(i) Identify the need and fully describe the project that is under consideration to meet it, explain the process by which the Postal Service will solicit and consider input from the affected community, and solicit a working partnership with the community officials for the success of the project.
(ii) emphasize that in meeting a need for increased space, the first priority is to expand the existing facility; the second priority is to find an existing building in the same area as the current facility; and the third option is to build on a new site; all within the downtown area, if possible.
(iii) ask that a Postal Service presentation of the project be placed on the regular agenda of a public meeting or hearing. If no such meeting is planned within the next 60 days or the agenda of a planned meeting cannot accommodate the project, the USPS will schedule its own public hearing concerning the project, and will advertise the meeting or hearing in a local general circulation newspaper.
(iv) give the local officials a letter describing the intended project.
(2) Notify the lessor of the affected facility of the project, in writing.
(3) Send an initial news release to local communications media.
(4) (i) Post in the public lobby of the affected post offices a copy of the letter given to local officials, or the news release, or, space permitting, both. If such information is available at the time, include in the posting a public notice of the date, time, and location of a public meeting or hearing at least 7 days prior to the meeting or hearing.
(ii) Except as provided in this paragraph, attend, or conduct, one or more public hearings to describe the project to the community, invite questions, solicit written comment, and describe the process by which community input will be considered. If it is believed at the time that the existing facility is not able to be expanded or that expansion is impracticable, disclose that fact and the reasons supporting that belief. If, during the public meeting or hearing process, a new development should occur to allow for an expansion of the existing facility, the Postal Service will make a good faith effort in pursuing this alternative. Under exceptional circumstances that would prevent postal representatives from attending a public meeting or conducting a postal hearing on the planned project within a reasonable time, and subject to approval of the Vice President, Facilities, the Postal Service may distribute a notification card to all affected customers, seeking their comments or other feedback. An example of exceptional circumstances would be a project in a sparsely populated area remote from the seat of local government or any forum where a postal conducted meeting could be held.
(iii) At any public meeting or hearing, advise local officials and the community of their appeal rights and the process by which an appeal can be made. Information provided must include time limitations and an address for the appeal.
(5) Review comments and notify local officials of decision. Not less than 15 days after the date of the most recent public meeting, or after receipt of notification cards, make a decision that takes into account community input and is consistent with postal objectives (e.g., expansion, relocation to another building, or construction of a new owned or leased facility), and notify local officials in writing. This notification must include information on the availability and terms of review under paragraph (c)(6) of this section. At the same time, post a copy of the notification letter in the local post office for the community. Take no action on the decision for at least 30 days following notification of local officials and the community.
(6) Within the time period identified in paragraph (c)(5) of this section, any person may request in writing that the decision be reviewed by the Vice President, Facilities, at Postal Service Headquarters. No particular format is required for requesting review, but the request must be in writing and identify the post office or location affected; and should identify the decision objected to, and state the reasons for the objection. The Vice President, Facilities, will obtain the views of the decision maker, review relevant parts of the project file, and if necessary request more information from the appellant. Upon review of the facts, the Vice President, or a representative, will issue a written determination, if possible, within 15 days. In no event will the Postal Service take action on the decision being reviewed until 15 days following issuance of the final review determination. If the determination on review is to set aside the decision, the project process will return to the public hearing stage of paragraph (c)(4) of this section.
(7) Advertise for sites and existing buildings, in accordance with existing postal procedures.