Selling the historic, New Deal-era Post Office in downtown Santa Monica and —an area described by some residents as "the desert"—would save the agency an estimated $3.3 million in operational costs over 10 years.
But many residents who spoke at a public meeting Thursday night about the proposed relocation, told United States Postal Service officials that it would be bad for business.
They believe the agency is underestimating the number of customers who would turn to the Internet and other mail carriers if using the centrally-located post office at Fifth and Arizona streets were no longer an option. They made it clear that the main post office is not only historic and beautiful, but also convenient, especially for senior citizens and residents without cars.
"It's a joy every morning to go ot the Fifth Street location to go to my box," said Santa Monica resident Phyllis Elliott. "Going to the Seventh Street location would not make me unhappy.
The plan to shift services from the Fifth Street location to an annex carrier facility at 1653 Seventh St. and to sell the historic property is part of a plan to lower operational costs nationwide and to make some quick money.
With first class mail volume down 25 percent since 2006 and labor costs—which account for a lionshare of the Postal Service's operational costs—up 80 percent, the agency has seen a net loss of more than $25 billion in the past five years.
Letter carriers stationed at the Santa Monica Post Office on Fifth Street are already scheduled to move into the annex site on Seventh Street July 28 and 29. That move is separate from the proposed relocation of retail, P.O. boxes and bulk business mail services.
"This delivery operation consolidation will increase efficiency by having all Santa Monica letter carriers located in the same facility," spokesman Richard Maher wrote in an email. "The move will be transparent to the community and will not impact delivery service."
Maher said there is no public notification or input process when the Postal Services moves or consolidates letter carrier delivery operations.
Thursday's meeting drew an audience of about 50 and galvanized residents into action. A Santa Monica woman, Sara Meric, volunteered to coordinate opposition efforts. At one point during the meeting, one speaker shouted "let's fight like hell!"