By Aaron Blevins, 11/08/2012
Public meeting to discuss potential relocation is Nov. 15
West Hollywood’s post office retail operations on North San Vicente Boulevard may soon be relocated as part of a national effort by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to reduce costs. It is the third local post office to face a possible relocation in recent months.
Richard Maher, spokesman for USPS, said the retail services will likely be relocated to make room for mail carriers from Beverly Hills, who will operate out of the San Vicente Boulevard location if approved.
USPS approved the relocation of the Maple Drive Beverly Hills office in October, and its retail operations will move to a yet-to-be-determined location, pending an appeals process.
“This is a nationwide effort to consolidate our operations,” Maher said.
Even though the carrier operations will remain at the current location, consumers could have a new location to frequent for their postal needs in West Hollywood. Mayor Jeffrey Prang said the possible move is frustrating.
“Unfortunately, that location is a very user-friendly location,” he said.
Prang said the location has plenty of parking, and is easy to get to and find. While the city has no governance over the post office, officials will do what they can to help, he said.
“I think the city will be able to work with the post office to identify locations nearby,” Prang added. “Hopefully, they will be able to find a suitable location.”
He said the move is especially frustrating because the city had worked for years to get the post office named after the city it was in, as opposed to it being the West Hollywood/Los Angeles Post Office.
Though he doesn’t want the retail operations to move, Prang said the site could have spurred economic development on San Vicente Boulevard if USPS was going to sell the property altogether, which it does not anticipate doing.
“It would be a very important site for some kind of development,” he said.
The mayor said the relocation proposal speaks to a larger issue involving USPS, as West Hollywood’s post office is a “vibrant” location for the agency. He said it is “sad and frustrating” to witness USPS’ financial troubles.
“It doesn’t speak well to their structural health,” Prang added.
According to USPS, the agency is looking to realign its infrastructure in response to a 20-percent drop in mail volume over the last three years. Thus far, the move has affected post offices in Beverly Hills, Koreatown and now West Hollywood.
Maher said USPS couldn’t release the property value of the Beverly Hills location while it is entertaining bids, but the operation costs could decrease by approximately $100,000 per year. However, it is the sale of the property that is of major interest to USPS, he said.
With consolidated operations, the agency could spend less on managers, custodians, maintenance and utilities, Maher said. Even with the alterations, the postal service is striving to make the changes without affecting consumers.
“Our intent here is to maintain the same level of service for the community,” Maher added.
He said the consolidations have been mutually beneficial in other areas of Los Angeles, referencing the sale of the Venice post office at 1601 Main St., which sold for “millions of dollars.” Maher said the property was sold to producer Joel Silver and will be repurposed into his company’s headquarters and business offices.
“It’s actually worked out good for the community,” he said, adding that the office that consumers use is close to the old location.
That will be the goal in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood as well. Maher said the agency is looking for a rental unit with 4,000 square feet in West Hollywood. The office will retain the same zip code and P.O. boxes, he said.
In California, the USPS has earmarked 18 locations for consolidation, 12 of which have been approved. Six, including Venice, have been completed. Maher said he didn’t anticipate any other closure announcements in the near future.
“I don’t have anything on the books right now in [the] area,” he added.
A public meeting will be held regarding the West Hollywood post office at 5 p.m. on Nov. 15 at the West Hollywood Park Auditorium, 647 N. San Vicente Blvd. Through Nov. 30, written comments can be submitted to Diana Alvarado; Pacific Facilities Service Office; 1300 Evans Ave., Suite 200; San Francisco, CA 94188.
Maher said he didn’t have an update on the Beverly Hills and Koreatown offices. Both approvals are in the appeals process, and appeals can be sent to Vice President, Facilities, at the address listed above.