Addressing more than 400 people at the Cuvier Club April 26, Ken Boyd, manager of customer and industry contact for the United States Postal Service, delivered the sobering news: “The U.S. Postal Service is broke.”
As an independent agency of the U.S. government, Boyd said, the postal service “needs to run like a business.”
That business, which employs more than 574,000 workers and is obliged to deliver mail to every address in the United States, has seen a dramatic decrease in the volume of mail delivered — particularly pieces posted with its highest-profit generator, the first-class stamp. Sales of first-class stamps have decreased by 40 percent in recent years and are “never going to come back,” he said.
Boyd said tax day is a good barometer of how USPS business has waned during the past decade. Cars headed toward the Midway Drive post office to drop of returns by the filing deadline were once backed up to Interstate 8.
“That doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.
The ease and popularity of electronic communications, online tax-filing and bill-paying options and competition from FedEx, UPS and other parcel delivery services has decreased USPS profits and forced the agency to consider relocating or discontinuing operations at facilities across the country. These include La Jolla’s 77-year-old Wall Street post office and the recently announced closures of post offices in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.
The USPS would save $30,268 annually in utilities and cleaning costs by discontinuing services at the Wall Street post office. USPS only uses about 6,000 square feet of the approximately 14,000-square-foot building.
“We’re out of money and we have a building that takes a lot of maintenance and that we don’t even use half of,” Boyd said. “That brings me standing here before you today.”
Not all the news was dire during USPS’s only scheduled meeting with the community to discuss the pending relocation of its post office. Though tempers were expected to flare, the crowd largely remained calm and respectful. USPS representatives offered some hope, repeatedly assuring the community that the relocation of its post office was not inevitable.
“There are two very important contingencies that have to happen,” said USPS regional property manager, Diana Alvarado. “We have to have an acceptable buyer and we have to have acceptable relocation space. If either one of those things doesn’t happen, this does not happen.”
In regard to protecting the historic character of the Wall Street building, Alvarado said that USPS was currently undergoing a 90-day, phase-one site study, for which it has hired a historical consultant.
“That becomes very important should the building be for sale, because they will help us define the covenants and restrictions that would have to go onto the deed,” Alvarado said. “If we were to market or sell the building, it is advertised with the restrictions on there, so any buyer will know that there are going to be restrictions on the building to maintain the building’s historical characteristics. This will require that substantial portions of the building remain in the current configuration.”