How to appeal the USPS’s decision to relocate Wall Street’s postal services
■ The appeal must be postmarked by Saturday, April 6, 2013, and mailed to: Tom Samra Vice President, Facilities Implementation, Pacific Area 1300 Evans Ave., Ste. 200 San Francisco CA 94188-0200
By Pat Sherman
As elected officials met in front of the Wall Street post office March 28 to denounce a notice by the United States Postal Service (USPS) that it is proceeding with its planned relocation of services offered there, the
La Jolla Light
has learned that local real estate broker Paul Lafrenz is handling the sale of the building at 1140 Wall Street.
According to CBRE commercial real estate’s website, Lafrenz, a CBRE first vice-president, specializes in locating “the right project for the right buyer.”
The Save Our La Jolla Post Office Task Force is hoping that “right buyer” will be the La Historical Society or a similar community group sympathetic to preserving the historic post office — and not a private developer.
San Diego Congress members Susan Davis (D-53) and Scott Peters (D-52) jointly introduced legislation that would give communities across the country (including La Jolla) the right of first refusal to purchase their post office buildings if placed on
the market. However, whether that bill is heard at the committee level and ultimately proceeds to Congress for a vote largely depends on North County Congressmember Darrell Issa (R-49), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform committee (which has legislative jurisdiction over the USPS).
On Monday, a spokesperson for Issa and the committee told the
La Jolla Light
via e-mail that “Chairman Issa supports the sale of the La Jolla post office to a nonprofit entity, including one that would be willing to leaseback part of the facility to USPS, and has already informed USPS of that fact. USPS has the authority to do so under current law.”
Davis and Peters told the
last week they have both spoken with Issa about their legislation and the pending post office sale.
“I think he’s got bigger plans for the postal service than just this post office, and part of that may be losing some real estate, but nothing that the community’s proposing would interfere with that,” Peters said. “He’s been fairly open in my discussions with him, but I think he’d want to see the details on this. He wants fair market value, and that’s what the community wants to offer. There really is not a fight here.”
However, Davis said her office just received word from a contact at the independent U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission that the prospect for La Jolla preserving postal services on Wall Street is “discouraging.”
Part of the problem, she said, is that the USPS is not actively courting or considering community input.
“They (the USPS) wants to go forward with the (sale and downsizing) process everywhere and this kind of puts a crimp in it,” Davis told the
- “I think the Postal Service sees the community effort as slowing down their process. If they just move forward and do what they need to do throughout the country, then, obviously, from their point of view, it’s a quicker process.
We think that it can be a win-win for everybody — if, obviously, they have to make the same rules for everybody.”
Davis said other communities in California that have considered purchasing their post offices have contacted her office, though they’ve run into problems, “partly, I think, because they don’t have as active and involved a community (as La Jolla).”
The 1934 Wall Street post office building was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. Though the designation affords the building an extra layer of protection, it is no guarantee that the building won’t be demolished, said task force Vice-chair Joe LaCava.
“Ultimately the fear is that it will be sold to a private holder who will figure out a way around the historic designation and tear the building down,” LaCava said. “That would be the greatest tragedy in all of this.”
Though the emphasis of the task force was to pursue negotiations with USPS, bring elected officials into those negotiations, and apply pressure in a way that builds consensus, when all other options have been exhausted, LaCava said the task force will pursue litigation as its “last recourse.”
“Whether we take a collective action to pursue litigation or whether we do it as an individual (community) remains to be seen,” he said, noting that La Jolla’s suit could be strengthened by pooling information and experience with communities facing a similar loss of their post offices.
LaCava said he is guardedly optimistic that the recent relocation notice mentioned that the USPS is considering leasing back a portion of the building from the buyer to maintain postal operations there (a strategy advocated for by the task force).
“We do celebrate that,” LaCava said. “However, things can change. The lease can be fairly short to give them more time to find something (else).
“I take some comfort that there’s not a ‘for sale’ sign out there right now, but I’m also not unrealistic (about that possibility) that a sign could show up next week after they go through the appeal process.”
During the rally, District 1 City Councilmember Sherri Lightner called the USPS’s recent notice a “bullheaded, bureaucratic bungling of the highest order.”
“We have pleaded with the postal service to slow down and explore the opportunity of selling the post office to an established community group with the promise of leasing back the property at a nominal fee,” Lightner said.
“Who could say no to that? Well, apparently the U.S. Postal Service can. It is so short-sided and misguided that it takes your breath away.”
Peters said he would appeal of the post office’s recent action.
Meanwhile, USPS cannot sell the Wall Street building until it has found a site within a one-mile radius in which to relocate Wall Street’s retail operations.
“I am hopeful that (the USPS) did acknowledge what we told them a year ago, that you can’t really find another location in La Jolla that will meet your economic requirements or your space requirements,” LaCava said. “They’ve had over a year now to find it and they haven’t successfully done that.”