Congressman introduces largely symbolic bill to save La Jolla post office

Bob Filner, speaking with students at The Bishop's School in February. Pat Sherman photos
Bob Filner, speaking with students at The Bishop's School in February. Pat Sherman photos
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Bob Filner, speaking with students at The Bishop's School in February. Pat Sherman photos

By Pat Sherman

San Diego Congressman and mayoral candidate Bob Filner (D-51st) introduced legislation on Thursday, June 29 that would allow the La Jolla Historical Society the right of first refusal to purchase the La Jolla post office building at 1140 Wall St.

Since January, when USPS announced its intent to sell the Wall Street building and relocate postal services elsewhere in the Village, a group of community activists, historians, architects and preservationists known as the Save Our La Jolla Post Office Task Force has been working to save the post office. Strategies include finding a sympathetic buyer, such as the historical society, to purchase the building and keep postal operations there. The new owner might then lease unused portions of the building to nonprofit community groups or a compatible business to help pay the mortgage.

The task force has approached legislators such as Filner and fellow Congress members Susan Davis (D-53rd) and Brian Bilbray (R-50th) to have language inserted into the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 (S.B.1789) that would grant the historical society the right of first refusal to purchase the building.

Sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), S.B. 1789 seeks to restructure the postal service and protect it from bankruptcy. It passed the Senate April 25 and is awaiting a vote in the House.

According to govtrack.us, which tracks the status of federal legislation, Filner’s standalone legislation, H.R. 6049, has a much narrower chance of being enacted than S.B. 1789 — about 1 percent.

“We are grateful for Filner’s bold action, but continue to believe that the bipartisan effort being led by Susan Davis has a better chance of successful inclusion,” said post office task force chair Leslie Davis (no relation to Congresswoman Davis), via e-mail.

Leslie Davis said the congresswoman’s chief of staff, Lisa Sherman, is working to draft the task force’s requested amendments for inclusion into the Postal Service Act.

“These amendments may help other communities in similar situations with a similar desire to save their historic post offices and services,” Davis said. “(Lisa Sherman) has spoken with all of our (Washington, D.C.-based) representatives in a bipartisan effort on our behalf. We believe this approach has a higher chance

The task force has approached legislators such as Filner and fellow Congress members Susan Davis (D-53rd) and Brian Bilbray (R-50th) to have language inserted into the 21st Century Postal Service Act of 2012 (S.B.1789) that would of succeeding as an amendment to the bill.”

However, speaking with the

La Jolla Light

, Filner said he believes his legislation will further propel the issue into the public arena. He said the language of his bill also could be inserted into the Postal Reform Act as the required amendment. “I want people to know there’s public support for this,” Filner said. “When I talk to the post office I want them to know there’s legislation that will add some pressure.”

In the meantime, Leslie Davis said the task force continues to advocate for its first option (Plan A), to keep La Jolla’s postal services where they are, as they are.

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