Representatives Serrano and Lee: Postal Service Must Halt Historic Buildings Sales

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Press release: Washington, DC – Congressman Jose Serrano and Congresswoman Barbara Lee have both called for a halt to the sale of post offices.  They have each issued press releases today explaining that multiple provisions included in the omnibus appropriations bill unveiled on Monday urged the U.S. Postal Service to halt sales of historic post office buildings. One provision instructs the USPS to enact a moratorium on the sales until after the release of a pending Inspector General report on the legality of the sales. A second provision directs the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to issue a report on how to ensure the USPS follows the law in its sales of historic properties.

The Inspector General report will also examine whether the USPS is following applicable historic preservation laws in their historic building sales procedures and whether they have solicited sufficient public input in this process. Many community leaders and government officials feel that the laws have been skirted in these sales.

“The language in the omnibus appropriations bill is clear: the USPS needs to put sales of historic Post Offices on hold while we wait to see what the Inspector General’s report and the ACHP reports say,” said Congressman Serrano. “I believe that these sales have been conducted in a manner that does not fully comply with federal historic preservation laws. I understand the USPS has a serious revenue problem and is trying desperately to bring costs in line with outlays, but selling off historic properties to the highest bidder without following the appropriate procedures is completely unacceptable. I expect the USPS to immediately halt all pending sales and comply with the legislative language included in the omnibus bill.”

The passage in the bill to which Representatives Serrano and Lee are referring reads as follows:

"The Committee is concerned by reports that the Postal Service is attempting to sell off many of its historic properties without regard for the preservation of these buildings. The Committee is particularly concerned that the Postal Service may not be following Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act in the relocation and sales process of these historic properties. The Committee notes that the Office of the Inspector General is currently con- ducting an investigation into whether the Postal Service is com- plying with its statutory and regulatory requirements in the relocation of services, closure, and sale of these types of properties. Until such an analysis is complete, the Committee believes the Postal Service should refrain from the relocation of services from historic post offices, and believes the Postal Service should suspend the sale of any historic post office."

(FINANCIAL SERVICES AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2014, page 75, paragraph 2)

The Serrano press release is here; the Lee version is here.

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