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Final Decision Made on Historic Post Office

In a decision that's bound to displease many Santa Monica residents, the federal agency says the sale of the Fifth Street property is in the "best interest of the Postal Service and its customers."

The fate of Santa Monica's New Deal-era post office in downtown was cemented Friday, with the United States Postal Service affirming its decision to sell the property in spite of community opposition.

The property at Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue will be sold as soon as the begninning of 2013, a spokesman said, although an exact date has not be fixed. Its retail operations will be relocated to an annex carrier facility .8 miles away at Seventh Street and Olympic Boulevard.

"While the Postal Service is not insensitive to the impact of this decision... the relocation of the Santa Monica Post Office is in the best interest of the Postal Service and its customers," Vice President, Facilities Tom A. Samra wrote in his determination letter.

(The full letter is attched to the right of this article).

As it grabbles with a multi-billion budget hole, the federal agency has sold off dozens of properties across the country to generate cash.

The decision to sale the property was announced Aug. 17, but was reconsidered after appeals were sent by the city of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Conservancy, the Wilshire-Montana Neighborhood Coalition, the Los Angeles Conservancy, the North of Montana Association and about 40 postal service customers.

Their protests centered on the building being historic and conveniently located in the heart of downtown.

On Fifth Street between Wilshire Boulevard and Arizona Avenue, the Main Post Office was 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. Some residents have likened the location of the annex facility to the desert.

Samra shot down those concerns and argued the annex facility will be easier to access, safer and efficient. He said the anenx facility is "readily accessible" by public transit because a bus station is directly across the street and offers "safer and better" access to large trucks at its loading platform.

He concluded his letter,

I considered all of the public input received, but the objections expressed do not outweigh the practical and operational benefits for both the Postal Service and its customers...

With current projections declining mail volume and the financial condition of the Postal Service, the Postal Service has a duty to make any feasible change to reduce costs and generate revenue.

It's estimated the Santa Monica relocation will save the Postal Service $3.36 million over 10 years.

Of the five post Postal Service properities sold in California after relocations were approved, four were retail Post Offices. One was sold to an art school and the others, including a New Deal-era station in Venice, were sold to be used as private business offices. The fifth facility was a USPS warehouse that we sold to a business for warehouse operations, according to spokesman Richard Maher.

"In other parts of the country, I know of Post Offices that have been sold and now used as banks, law offices, museums and even a bed-and-breakfast," he said.

Paul Rich October 05, 2012 at 10:56 PM
"will save the postal service 3.36 million over 10 years." There are homes in Santa Monica with guest houses worth 3 mil. When you consider our national debt is 16 TRILLION, yeah, this goes a long way to cutting that down. One would hope the outer facade could remain with whatever business takes it over but that's just wishful thinking. I nice restaurant called "The Post Office" ? Get for the demolition ball and a high rise.
Valerie Griffin October 05, 2012 at 11:01 PM
This decision will have a negative impact on many people throughout Santa Monica. How can they say that walking an extra mile and a half to get to the annex location is not an impact? I suppose they want to accelerate the decline in use of the Postal Service in Santa Monica. We knew it was an uphill fight, but it's still a huge disappointment. Valerie Griffin Chair, Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Coalition
Dan Charney October 05, 2012 at 11:16 PM
This is not surprising but anger producing. This city has been sold out locally and federally- it must stop. We must galvanize and stop it. It's impossible to drive, park or do almost anything for most of the day now- so that huge developers can pocket lots of money. I wonder what Samra's story is- what is controlling him? His answers and explanations are cookie- cutter blah.
Ben Dowell October 05, 2012 at 11:45 PM
As a resident, particularly one who had to use this station, I'm perfectly okay with closing it. It was very poorly run & riddled with incompetent staff. I've had bills & gifts never delivered. When I've gone on vacation, I've had my mail held at the office. When I came back, they couldn't find it. The best suggestion the woman could give me was to talk to my postman. When I explained I worked during the day, she looked at me like I was from mars & told me to take the day off work. Closing this office is a rare display of government competence.
JohnCySmith.com October 06, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Bad move by the Postal Service.. closing a popular, profitable and landmark facility in favor of one that many in Santa Monica will ever find or use. No wonder the PS is billions in the red... John C. Smith, Santa Monica City Council Candidate
j pena October 06, 2012 at 02:59 AM
99% of the community doesn't even know about this. The Post Office is always full and as they stated very profitable. This is a disgrace. If we had been really told as a community, and that takes time, we could have prevented this destruction of a local historical building that represents the heart of Santa Monica.
j pena October 06, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Sorry to criticize, I am upset, but where was your group on this? I only found out a short time ago. If you had known why wasn't there an effort to organize the residents of the Wilmont area? Nothing was done, no flyers, no one working on this. All I saw was a Facebook page with very little activity.
j pena October 06, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Perhaps this is a wake up call so we don't lose what's left of Santa Monica. I think people are very receptive to preventing the destruction of our way of life here.
Jerry Rubin October 06, 2012 at 03:35 AM
I remember playing Post Office when I was a kid. Now I wish I would have just stuck with Spin the Bottle. Sad day for Santa Monica. Thank you, Jerry Rubin
Dan Charney October 06, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Agree- the annex is in a scary place- they are very rude and I think it's a dangerous place for seniors or anyone vulnerable- it also has all the appeal of a big box store- John- tell me why - please as to who is doing it - this city is crowded, congested, over developed with more and more commercial situations- but there is no money for anything that is historical or important ? Why not? Where is the money from all this misery that has ruined our city going? Who gets it'? Now we have the post office and the senior center in windowless big box , dangerously traffic ridden or isolated situations- we have lost it- our city is all but over
Glen Tistaert October 07, 2012 at 04:08 AM
I received a letter back from Tom Samra regarding the decision to close the Santa Monica Post Office. I was reassured to learn that moving the Post Office will save .0056% on the Post Offices budget. Along a different line, the straight in parking along 7th Street, at the Annex, is very difficult to manuever into with a long pickup truck and driving down the narrow lane behind cars with bike racks sticking out or vehicles with trailer hitches definitely imposes risk especially if an 18 wheeler is coming up the street the other way,.
Dan Charney October 07, 2012 at 06:06 AM
We need to assemble a group with torches and storm something
donna October 08, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Sad...I tried to warn Santa Monica Residents. The Postal Service intentionally didn't give you much time to protest, they had already "decided." They let you have your moment to express your outrage and then went on with their business of closing it. Same thing happened to us in Venice. The Postal Service doesn't care what their customers want...that is why they are going out of business. Our Senator's husband's company will make a nice commission off the sale of your building. Congress can use our outrage to raise money for both political parties for their next campaign...and We The People...voiceless people...trying to demand our lawmakers listen to our wishes...will once again be shocked when they don't...and the cycle starts again... We the People better figure out what we are going to do about this soon or it will be to late to save our country. peace
Eddie Greenberg October 08, 2012 at 07:18 PM
The post office listened to our complaints, but there was lots of wax in their ears! What they did listen to was a Godfather or mother who made them an offer that "They," not we, could not refuse.Expediency always over the public good. This building was spoken for already, and you will see what comes next as to who manouvered this sale behind the scenes.It is now unknown.Some believe that the end justifies the means, and that maxim is taken straight out of the mouth of Joseph Stalin.My guess is either condos, a hotel or what is their interpretation of "affordable housing".Dan and many other respondents have it right on!
Jane St. Clair October 31, 2012 at 04:10 AM
What a waste of beautiful architecture and a historic landmark. Staff can be improved or replaced but buildings like this will not come again without investing a fortune for a Restoration Hardware knockoff virtual replica, when we have the real deal right here. This really makes me sad. Why not sell a half a dozen of those ugly brick box annexes instead and leave this one alone as a tribute to the charm of the city? Breaks my heart to think it's going to become some kind of Gap or Forever 21 when FDR and the New Deal brought it about.

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