Save the Post Office Task Force makes strides in preservation effort

By Dave Schwab

The latest Save the La Jolla Post Office update was all positive as legislators have been engaged, a public meeting to “reimagine” what the Wall Street building could be has been set and an application for historical designation that would protect the Depression-era building is on a fast-track for acceptance.

“This was a very good week for us,” said Leslie Davis, interim chair of the La Jolla Post Office Task Force, whose representatives met with both Democratic Congresswoman Susan Davis and Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray last week.

“This is a bipartisan issue and I got the sense of them working together,” said task force member Joe LaCava.

Davis said the task force submitted questions to legislators to give to the Postal Service to be answered. One queries the department on its rationale for considering La Jolla’s post office as a “relocation” rather than a “closure.” Another seeks financial justification for savings to be accrued from La Jolla’s Post Office’s relocation.

It’s been estimated La Jolla’s Post Office’s Wall Street property is presently worth about $3 million.

The task force, comprised of a broad cross-section of community volunteers, has been working to counteract the U.S. Postal Service’s announcement Jan. 9 that the La Jolla Post Office at 1140 Wall St. is to be relocated and its building sold to raise revenue for the financially strapped federal institution.

Diane Kane, a former city employee and trustee of the California Preservation Foundation who did the paperwork pro bono for La Jolla Post office’s pending application for state historical designation, said

she’s been told by state postal officials that “we’re the only post office being considered as one of the 11 most endangered postal properties,” and is a “poster child” for preservation.

Davis said the task force has three plans for the outcome of efforts to preserve La Jolla’s post office.

“Plan A is to save the post office as it is today,” she said. “Plan B is for the community to own it with a not-for-profit organization. Plan C is to get a sympathetic developer to keep that building, and allow it to be reused for community uses.”

It was also announced that the U.S. Postal Service has yet to schedule a mandatory public meeting to discuss La Jolla’s post office’s closure, an event that Davis said “will start the clock running” on the process to formally close the La Jolla building and relocate postal services elsewhere.

A firm date has also been set, Thursday, March 29 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at La Jolla Rec Center, for the “Re-imagining the La Jolla Post Office” community forum. That event will feature 3 or 4 expert panelists discussing alternative uses of the Wall Street building in the event efforts fail to preserve postal services there.

La Jollans are also concerned about what will become of the Post Office’s historic mural, an Earth-toned view of the Cove in 1935 and 1936, painted by the early modernist Baranceanu (1902-1988).

The post office has said the La Jolla facility is larger than it needs to be and will find a suitable relocation site within a mile of the present facility.

La Jolla Post Office’s ZIP Code, hours of operation, P.O. Boxes, etc. would all remain the same only be in a different location, said the postal service.