News + Advocacy

Status of the 5th Street Post Office

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The fate of the Santa Monica 5th Street Post Office is featured in a New York Times article about preserving the nation’s historic post offices. Click here for NY Times article.   The March 8, 2013 article describes how frustrated local and national preservationists are with the Postal Service’s execution of the federally mandated processes intended to protect historic buildings when they are sold. A photo essay including a photo of the lobby of our post office accompanies the article.

At this time, the status of our 5th Street Post Office is in flux.   Under the Federal protection for historic buildings known as Section 106, the US Postal Service recently notified the Conservancy and other interested parties that the sale of the 5th Street Post Office would have “no adverse effect” upon Santa Monica because a protective preservation covenant would be placed on the building.

Some progress has been made toward instituting a covenant.  Two consultants’ studies describing the building’s character-defining features have been completed, one for the Postal Service and one for the City. The Postal Service is reported to be reviewing the municipal code regarding Landmark designation and protection to determine if it offers adequate protection for the building.

However, after discussions with several of the consulting parties, including the California Preservation Foundation, the Conservancy responded that we could not agree to the finding of “no adverse effect” until the City’s designation process – or an equivalent public process involving the consulting parties – was used to define and protect the character-defining features of the building, and either:

  • an agreement between the USPS and the City that the municipal code provides sufficient protection to meet the requirements of the Section 106 process;  or
  • the identification of a qualified entity to hold the required covenant, preferably the City of Santa Monica.

To date, the Conservancy has not heard back from the Postal Service on the status of the Section 106 process.

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