By Michael YEGHIAYAN
A public meeting was held Thursday by the United States Postal Service in order to receive community input on the potential relocation of the Glendale Post Office. In a cost cutting effort, the office may be moved from the historical site on East Broadway to a yet to be determined new location.
A Monday meeting in Glendale City Council chambers represented one of the earliest stages of the decision making process. The USPS will now accept written comments submitted from the community until Aug. 25, after which a final decision will be made.
With the gulf separating the agency from profitability steadily growing, the U.S. Postal Service has looked to any available measure in hopes of controlling costs.
Representatives from the postal service cited decreasing revenues and increasing labor costs as major factors in the agency’s economic difficulties. A steady projected decrease in the volume of first class mail, the most profitable revenue stream for the USPS, and a staggering commitment to employee health care costs have left few fiscally viable options on the table. The agency faces a net loss of approximately $40 billion in the past six years.
“Just as all of these trends came together to create this perfect storm, no one solution will fix it,” said Maher. “It will take a multitude of solutions coming together to fix the USPS.”
On a national level, the USPS also plans to shift resources into the rapidly growing package delivery market. However, that market is heavily competitive with the presence of corporate giants UPS and FedEx. Additionally, the agency is appealing to Congress for a switch to a “six day package, five day mail” delivery system that would appeal to current consumer preferences.
“[There has been] a cultural change in the way we communicate and the post office realizes this and must adapt,” added Maher.
A study by the postal service estimates that the Glendale area could be adequately served with a 10,000-square-foot location. The current location in downtown Glendale measures at 56,000 square feet. However, even if plans for a relocation are approved, they are dependent upon the successful acquisition of a suitable replacement near the current building, potentially providing a challenge in the busy center of the city.
Representative Adam Schiff, a co-sponsor of the Postal Service Protection Act, strongly opposed the plans for relocation.
“Closing the historic Glendale Post Office will do little to improve the USPS’s bottom line and the damage done by selling the facility would be permanent – the beautiful and historic post office will forever be taken out of service,” said Rep. Schiff in a statement given by a representative from his office. “USPS has a massive financial burden that it must overcome, but the only viable solution is a comprehensive legislative approach, like the one I’ve co-sponsored, that stops the multibillion dollar over-funding of its retirement plan.”
Opponents of the potential move argued that the relatively small savings achieved by relocating the post office did not justify abandoning a historic building. A number of Glendale residents spoke out in opposition at the meeting.
“We understand the postal service’s financial difficulties and recommend that you explore other, more reasonable cost-cutting solutions such as consolidating operations and liquidating satellite offices, or perhaps entering into a shared use agreement with another government entity,” said president of the Glendale Historical Society Greg Grammer. “For example, the Glendale courthouse located down the street is in need additional space and may be interested in such an arrangement.”
The effects of the post office’s financial difficulties have already emerged with over 200,000 jobs lost by attrition in the last decade. In order to avoid location shutdowns, the agency has turned to relocations and adjustments to the hours of operations in order to reduce operating costs as part of a “national effort to optimize the network.”
Even if the relocation plans are approved, the City of Glendale will maintain all five of its post office locations. Zip codes, P.O. boxes, and delivery service are also not expected to be altered by the potential change.
The community is encouraged to offer its input on this issue and can do so by contacting Diana Alvarado, Facilities Headquarters – Pacific Area, U.S. Postal Service, 1300 Evans Ave. Ste. 200, San Francisco CA 94188-8200.