Berkeley gets the bad news: The Postal Service makes a final decision to sell the historic post office

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Mr. Tom Samra, USPS Vice President, Facilities, has rendered his final decision on the Berkeley post office.  The Postal Service will relocate retail services from the building, and it will soon be put up for sale.  You can read his statement here.

In a related development, the Postal Service filed a motion with the Postal Regulatory Commission to dismiss the appeal to stop the relocation of the historic Bronx General Post Office.

Neither the decision on Berkeley nor the motion on the Bronx comes as a surprise.  The Postal Service will not be swayed from his plans to sell historic post offices.  Community opposition doesn’t matter, the pleas of elected officials don’t matter, and legal arguments by attorneys and historic preservations don’t matter either.

Appeals concerning the Berkeley relocation were filed by Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, State Senator Loni Hancock, State Assemblymember Nancy Skinner, the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Post Office Collaborate, Ford & Huff Attorneys at Law, Save the Berkeley Post Office, the Gray Panthers of the East Bay, and approximately fifty postal customers.  The appeals just didn’t matter.

At this point, Mr. Samra’s final decision statements are pretty much boilerplate.  He reviews the concerns raised by the appeals, and dismisses each in turn.  The impact on the community, he says, will be mitigated by locating a new retail office in a convenient location.  Besides, as Mr. Samra reminds us, 40 percent of retail revenue comes from sources other than a post, which presumably means that many people don’t need a post office anyway.

He says that allegations that the Postal Service has failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, and so on, are not relevant because it is premature to consider such legislation.  The Postal Service has only decided to relocate the post office; it will deal with these other matters later.

The bottom line, says Mr. Samra, is that the Postal Service’s financial condition requires it to take steps like selling the Berkeley post office, and that’s about all there is to it.

His final decision ends, as it always does, with a declaration that “this is the final determination of the Postal Service with respect to this matter, and there is no right to further administrative or judicial review of this decision.”

Obviously, simply declaring that his decision cannot be reviewed by the courts does not make it so.  It will be up to the courts to decide whether they want to review his decision.  We shall see.

(Photo credit: Berkeley post office interior; Bronx post office interior)

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