After it was announced that Cardiff by the Sea’s post-office property had new owners, numerous rumors blew up on social media on February 23 over the possible eviction and end of use of the town’s 92007 zip code.
The news posed a conundrum: the new owners of the property also happen to be the most charitable guys in town. Yet, angry social media postings included threats to start petitions and a suggestion of a boycott of Seaside Market and its owners.
Pete and John Najjar own Seaside Market, located at 2087 San Elijo Avenue. The brothers purchased two buildings behind the store on Newcastle Avenue; one is the post office and the other an older two-story building formerly co-owned by its occupants, Cardiff by the Sea Dentistry and Steele Real Estate. (The post-office property’s Los Angeles owners have had the property listed for sale for years.)
The Najjars say their goal is to beautify the area by redeveloping the older buildings into a single-story commercial building and adding additional subterranean parking for their center and the village area.
“We want the post office gone?” questioned Pete in a February 26 interview. “No way. We want it to stay!”
John said that it was their market that helped rally the community in 1986 to save the post office and the 92007 zip code. When Cardiff and other communities incorporated as the City of Encinitas, Caltrans removed Cardiff’s freeway signage and Rand McNally removed the town from their maps. The United States Postal Service was also in a budget-reduction mood and threatened to close the Cardiff by the Sea branch and consolidate it with Solana Beach.
USPS spokesperson Eva Jackson said that the lease for the post office would expire on September 30th. Not to fear, says Jackson. Yes, the post office will have to move. But Jackson said that facility specialists are already in negations for possible sites in town. The 92007 zip code will not disappear.
The current post office uses limited space to service the 939 boxes and provide customer service at two counters — much less than the current 4200-square-foot building needed in the late 1960s before centralized postal sorting facilities, and neighborhood carriers were moved to the Encinitas main office years ago.
Residents from eastern Encinitas to Solana Beach often drive to the Cardiff post office because of the lack of a waiting line. A large contingent of local eBay’ers and Amazon sellers also use the quick drop-off convenience.
“[The U.S. Postal Service] is committed to finding another Cardiff location,” says Jackson. “We want to make the transition seamless.” While she couldn’t yet state the location of possible sites, the social media rumor of one — the Postal Annex in the Seaside Market shopping center — is not a possibility. The postal service doesn’t partner with private businesses that already have their own mail and shipping services and provide postal boxes.
John Najjar has an option. He was excited to propose it to postal officials. “We can provide a temporary space in our center while we build [the new, smaller post office on its current site].” John showed me the space they already have picked out for a temporary post office.
He also pointed out that the yearly lease rate they’ve offered for a new building is below the postal service’s threshold for having to involve officials in Washington DC. “The decision can be made locally,” he said.
“We need the community’s support to keep our post office here,” said John. “Any town first needs good schools, then goods, services, and restaurants, “Then a post office. It’s the center of our community. It needs to stay here.”
Historical footnote: Cardiff by the Sea post office was established in 1911. The first letter mailed from the new post office, by developer J. Frank Cullen, is displayed in the Cardiff Library. Cardiff is one of two towns in California that are officially by-the-Sea’s, ordained by the USPS. The other is Carmel by the Sea.