For 74 years, residents have lovingly shipped out letters, picked up mail and purchased stamps with spare change (OK, we acquiesce, debit cards nowadays) from the statuesque U.S. Post Office at Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue.
Built by then-president Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Projects Administration, it opened with pomp—red, white and blue bunting strung across the lawn—in July of 1938.
But less and less, there's not an actual need for the brick and mortar outlet, Postal Service officials say. About 40 percent of the agency's retail revenue comes from the Internet, grocery stores, pharmacies and office supply stores.
Though Santa Monica's main post office has dodged closure lists since 2009—when expansive plans were first announced to consider shuttering thousands of locations nationwide—it is now being targeted.
Under a plan that still needs to be vetted by the public, the retail services would relocate less than a mile away to a carrier annex facility at 1653 Seventh St. The lucrative downtown property at 1248 Fifth could be sold, said spokesman Richard Maher.
"There is an opportunity to relocate the public retail services and maintain one facility instead of two," he said. "The letter carrier delivery operations at the annex on Seventh Street will not fit into the footprint of the building on Fifth Street, but the reverse is feasible."
Just how much the relocation and consolidation would save was reported in a preliminary study but that document hasn't been released, according to Maher.
Agency-wide, losses have totaled $25 billion in the past five years, prompting reviews of 3,700 post offices, stations and branches for possible reduced hours, consolidation or closure.
About 30 of those are in Los Angeles County. Each has undergone public review, but their futures are still uncertain. The Postal Service hasn't announced any final decisions.
"Like mail volume, window transactions at our retail units have substantially declined," Phillip Herr, of the Government Accountability Office, wrote in a 2009 report. As "its mail volumes decline, USPS does not have sufficient revenues to cover the growing costs of providing service to new residences and businesses while also maintaining its large network of retail and processing facilities."
There is a moratorium on consolidations and closures until May 15 to give Congress the chance to enact an alternate plan to address the Postal Service's financial crisis. Relocations, however, are not affected by the moratorium, Maher said.
Reviews will continue though the moratorium period, including public meetings and input periods, which could begin in about two months in Santa Monica.