News + Advocacy

Closure of the 5th Street Post Office

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The Postal Service announced on August 17 that they are proceeding with plans to sell the historic Santa Monica Main Post Office and relocate its services to the carrier annex at 1653 7th Street, south of Colorado and the future Expo line. The Santa Monica Conservancy has joined the City of Santa Monica and others in writing letters to appeal this decision.

We are following this situation very closely, and are taking two additional initiatives to assure the protection of the building if our appeals to maintain retail service at the 5th Street location are denied and the Postal Service proceeds with plans to sell the building:

  • Requesting Consulting Party status in the Section 106 Process defined by the National Historic Preservation Act
  • Asking our Landmarks Commission to prepare a nomination of the Post Office

See below for details.

Photo credit Jessie Geoffray, Santa Monica Mirror.

 

Our appeal of the Postal Service decision to close the 5th Street Post Office included the following points:

  • The Santa Monica Main Post Office is a beautiful historic structure which is recognized in the City’s Historic Resource Inventory as being eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It has been serving the community since its dedication in 1938 as part of the Federal Works Progress Administration.
  • We are very concerned that the proposed sale of the Post Office will place this historic building at risk. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is so concerned about the failure of the Postal Service to provide adequate protections that it has named the Historic Post Offices to its 2012 list of the Nation’s Most Endangered Historic Places. (See below for additional description of the concerns about Postal Service adherence to federal laws intended to protect historic properties as they are sold into private ownership.)
  • Closing the 5th Street Post Office and relocating its services to 7th Street may very well turn a profitable location into one that operates at a loss. The current location in the Central Business District is within walking distance of many local residents and businesses, and accessible by public transit. The outpouring of opposition describes the proposed location as much less convenient and indicates that the facility would be avoided by many – suggesting that it may not generate enough revenue to cover operating costs.

Our request for Consulting Party status in the Section 106 process defined by the National Historic Preservation Act: Under Section 106, the Postal Service cannot sell a historic property without a protective covenant to ensure that the historic property suffers “no adverse effects” when sold. Unfortunately, experience to date indicates the protections put in place are likely to be very weak unless local preservation organizations like the Conservancy request a consulting role. We will be making this request immediately without waiting for the results of the appeal, and will keep you informed of our progress.

Finally, the Conservancy has requested that the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission prepare a nomination of the Post Office so as to be ready to act as soon as the Post Office passes into private ownership, since they have no jurisdiction as long as the building remains a federal property. We understand that this will be on the Commission’s agenda for their next meeting, scheduled September 10 at 7 PM in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

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