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Various Authors 6:38 p.m., Sept. 24
Local elected officials and residents gathered outside the La Jolla Post Office on Wall Street this afternoon (March 28), to protest the U.S. Postal Service’s continuation in its stated plan to relocate the post office and sell off the historical building in which its operations now reside.
Longtime La Jolla resident and recently-elected Congressman Scott Peters was joined by Congresswoman Susan Davis, whose district previously included La Jolla, San Diego City Council president pro tem Sherri Lightner, Save Our La Jolla Post Office Task Force vice chair Joe LaCava, and La Jolla Historical Society executive director Heath Fox in making remarks.
“What we’d like to do, is that if there’s any sale of this building, at least preserve the function of having a post office right here,” said Peters, who recently re-introduced a bill first proposed last year by Davis that would allow community organizations such as the Historical Society to purchase properties slated for sale at fair market value in order to preserve their community use through a right of first refusal when postal buildings are offered for sale.
A value has not yet been placed on the property, even if it were to be offered to a community group for sale, nor has an exact buyer for the property if the Davis/Peters proposal is successful.
“It gets a little bit ‘the chicken and the egg,’” said LaCava about naming a potential community entity to complete the purchase. “We’ve certainly had conversations with people that are very interested in preserving the institution here, but it’s hard to have that conversation when you don’t actually know what the landscape is ahead.”
Lightner accused the Postal Service of acting “blindly” in deciding to move forward with the La Jolla property sale. “This is bullheaded, bureaucratic bungling of the highest order.”
During questioning, Peters was asked whether he or Davis had gone directly to Congressman Darrell Issa of Vista, chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and co-author of H.R. 2309, a bill that forces the Postal Service to slash costs and raise funds in an attempt to restore profitability.
“My conversation with Congressman Issa indicate that he’s most concerned about getting fair market value, and that he didn’t see a real objection as long as we did that,” said Peters. “We’ll continue to talk to him.”
Later in the question session, Andy Cohen of the San Diego Free Press asked Peters if he had engaged in any discussion about modifying a 2006 Congressional requirement that the Postal Service pay 75 years’ worth of anticipated retiree benefits into its pension fund over a 10 year period. Critics have argued that this unique requirement is more to blame than any other factor for the Service’s downfall.
“I don’t want this building to be caught up in those [issues],” replied Peters, declining to comment directly on the assertion that such a fix would eliminate the need for the sale in the first place. “I think Susan and I share a lot of the concerns that have been expressed about the viability of the Postal Service, but we don’t need to reach an agreement in Congress on that to save this post office . . . we’d like to avoid this being a part of that fight.”