The deadline for appeals on the Bronx General Post Office was April 13, 2013, or about 40 days before the deadline for appeals on Berkeley's Main Post Office.
In a five-page letter dated June 3, 2013, USPS Facilities Vice-President Tom Samra denied all appeals received on the relocation and sale of the Bronx General Post Office.
Samra's letter groups the appeal concerns into six categories: impact on historic resources (including the murals), failure to follow historic preservation rules, failure to follow community relations rules, failure to follow environmental law, access to postal service, negative impact on the community.
Samra dismisses all concerns with "the objections expressed do not outweigh the financial exigencies facing the Postal Service."
The entire decision and appeal process has taken place inside the Postal Service Facilities Department but the letter concludes: "This is the final decision of the Postal Service with respect to this matter, and there is no right to further administrative or judicial review."
Click here for background on the murals, the Bronx General Post Office, and the fight to keep this national treasure open serving the public good.
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner and Senator Loni Hancock join Mayor Tom Bates in calling for a one-year moratorium on the sale of historic post offices.
"Please take a number"
At the conclusion of the press conference, our elected officials went inside to hand their letters to a postal clerk. Although they had obtained a number earlier, there was still a short wait for an available window at this always busy and well-patronized post office.
The press package includes the letter from Berkeley's Mayor and City Council, the letter from Loni Hancock and Nancy Skinner, and the letter from Congresswoman Barbara Lee. Click to view or download.
7 pm Thursday May 2nd Community Meeting at 2133 University Avenue
Letter to the USPS Vice-President for Facilities from our community
"Together we are adamantly opposed to the sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office. We cannot imagine that anyone with any knowledge of the importance of this building to Berkeley would consider the relocation of its retail services and its closure. "
click to read the entire letter
BERKELEY TO APPEAL POST OFFICE SALE
Berkeley residents are united in wanting the US Postal Service to stay in its current central and historic location, and for the federal government to retain ownership of this public building. Author and geographer Gray Brechin remarked that “As elsewhere, the public comment is pro forma; the unanimous opposition of the impacted community counts for precisely nothing.” Berkeley businesses, churches and non-profits want bulk mail receiving services available in downtown Berkeley where it is accessible and convenient.
In April the Postal Service moved ahead with the sale of three other historic post office buildings: the Wall Street post office in La Jolla, Old Chelsea on West 18th Street in New York City, and the Bronx General Post Office on the Grand Concourse. As in Berkeley, these three post offices contain New Deal public artworks. The murals in the Bronx by Ben Shahn are masterpieces, monumental in scale and extremely well-known.
Save the Berkeley Post encourages its supporters to make a tax-deductible donation to the National Post Office Collaborate to support the legal efforts to stop these sales.
Click here to make a donation to the National Post Office Collaborate
The USPS notice of approval states that “there will be a marketing alternative to keep a right-sized retail presence in a portion of the existing Berkeley Post Office.” It said that it plans to rent a retail location in downtown Berkeley, either in the existing lobby of the Main Post Office or elsewhere. At present, the USPS owns the Main Post Office and pays no taxes on the property. Becoming a tenant represents a false economy and will leave the USPS vulnerable to rent increases in a high-rent commercial area.
Berkeley city officials asked for a one year time-out to work with the USPS to find a solution that met the long-term financial needs of the Postal Service and maintained federal ownership. The Postal Service wasn't interested.
As of 2003, the USPS real estate portfolio had an estimated worth of $110 billion. The process of privatizing USPS real estate holdings may yield enormous commissions to CB Richard Ellis, the giant commercial realty firm that was awarded an exclusive contract for USPS property sales. University of California Regent Richard Blum is the chairman of CB Richard Ellis and the husband of California Senator Dianne Feinstein.
STOP THE SALE!