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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.”

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Comments

Visduh March 28, 2013 @ 2:51 p.m.

Seems to me that La Jolla went through this just a few years ago. The larger question is whether the USPS needs to have a walk-in post office there, and if the locals actually use it enough to justify having it. Let's not forget that the post office as a concept is fading, and fast, and if the USPS ends up BK, many ugly things (far uglier than the La Jollans losing their lovely old post office) will happen. Some community foundation needs to assemble the funding necessary to buy the darned building and lease it to the USPS for a nominal sum. Most areas of the county couldn't get that sort of money together, but if La Jolla sets its mind to it, can pull it off with ease. So, La Jolla, put your money where your (complaining) mouth is.

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jnojr March 28, 2013 @ 3:43 p.m.

"We need to cut government!"

OK... we'll cut the part of government that you like and approve of.

"NONONONO, that isn't what I had in mind at all, I wanted you to cut government that someone else likes and that I don't care about! We do need fewer Post Offices, but we have to keep this one!"

And so government grows and grows and grows until it consumes us all...

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Visduh March 31, 2013 @ 9:29 a.m.

For forty years now, the USPS has not been "government." It is a quasi-public corporation that has all the worst parts of private enterprise and governmental (meaning political) meddling all in one. But this has nothing to do with government budgets or the sequestration of funds. It has to do with a declining use of "snail mail" by the public, hence reduced revenues. When the federal government decided to reform the former US Post Office Department, it cut off the funding and told the newly-formed USPS to pay its own way, but it didn't really let go of the reins. Now we reap the result of all the many errors built into the USPS.

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