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Postal master: Three years into temporary job, David Bannister works to deliver for La Jolla mail customers

David Bannister is officer in charge of the La Jolla post office.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

“Ultimately, the service we give the customers in La Jolla is on me,” David Bannister says of his job overseeing the La Jolla post office at 1140 Wall St. in The Village.

Bannister has been the officer in charge of U.S. postal services in La Jolla since September 2019, putting his stamp on operations in the 92037 ZIP code while the La Jolla postmaster, Anita Tamapua, is on temporary assignment as a postmaster in another community.

Bannister said there is one postmaster general for the city of San Diego. Various locations within the city — including La Jolla — have their own postmasters.

Bannister, a Chula Vista resident, transferred to La Jolla in 2015 as a supervisor before stepping into the officer-in-charge position.

“I didn’t expect it to be this long,” he said, though he added that he’s embraced the role more recently due to its longevity.

It’s unknown how much longer Bannister will remain the OIC.

He said his job — which functions identically to the postmaster role — is to oversee “the entire delivery aspect of La Jolla,” along with customer service.

His duties range from being directly involved with scheduling and figuring out the day-to-day operations to pulling reports and looking over performance.

“What don’t I do?” he said.

“Day in and day out throughout the pandemic, we were basically a lifeline for the entire country [as] customers realized how easy it is to shop online. Our package volume skyrocketed.”

— David Bannister

The La Jolla post office runs with about five employees, excluding Bannister.

The perks of the job include the location, he said. “Where else would you want to work?”

Bannister spends about half his time at the Postal Service’s University City Carrier Annex on Shoreham Place near Interstate 805 and Governor Drive, where he oversees about 70 additional employees.

“That’s the larger part of our operation,” he said. “We have 46 routes.”

All La Jolla mail is sorted at the University City annex and carriers originate there, he said.

Delivering to La Jolla can be difficult for postal workers, Bannister said. “Having to commute from University City into La Jolla is definitely a challenge.”

Carriers take La Jolla Parkway from State Route 52 and navigate the La Jolla traffic before arriving at their routes, he said.

“Sometimes it takes you a half-hour to get from the 52 to La Jolla Shores,” Bannister said. Bird Rock carriers occasionally go through Pacific Beach to get to their destinations.

Packages for pickup and mail held for vacations are transferred to the Wall Street post office so La Jollans don’t have to travel to the carrier annex, Bannister said. “That poses its own challenge sometimes. Customers have to coordinate with us to make sure their mail’s down [in The Village].”

Bannister said it’s unusual for a carrier annex to be so far from the post office. The local annex was moved to University City in 2015 after the one in La Jolla lost its lease on Silver Street.

“My employees have been doing a fantastic job,” Bannister said. “Day in and day out throughout the pandemic, we were basically a lifeline for the entire country [as] customers realized how easy it is to shop online. Our package volume skyrocketed.”

La Jolla postal workers were amazing in dealing with pandemic restrictions and the increase in mail delivery, he said. “It’s definitely a job you have to be flexible with.”

Bannister cautioned that there’s been an upswing in mail theft recently, with thieves “fishing” in freestanding public mailboxes.

“They’ll take a piece of cardboard or piece of plastic [and] reverse wrap it with tape or put some sort of sticky stuff, tie a string to it and drop it into collection boxes to try and pull mail out,” he said. “It’s been happening a lot.”

Before dropping mail in a public collection box, “look at the posted times,” Bannister advised. “If it’s after the last collection … don’t put it in there. Give it to your carrier or wait till the next day and do it during collection times.”

Bannister urged customers who believe they’ve been victims of mail theft to call the U.S. postal inspector at (877) 876-2455. ◆