On April 14th, 2015 Judge Alsup ruled in favor of the US Postal
Service’s attempt to dismiss the City of Berkeley’s lawsuit which sought to halt the sale of the people’s post office in downtown Berkeley. He ruled that since no sale is pending, the issue is not ripe for litigation.

While this is not the decision Berkeley Post Office Defenders (BPOD), First They Came for the Homeless nor the City of Berkeley was looking for, the judge did NOT rule that the Postal Service is free and clear to go ahead and sell the building at 2000 Allston Way. There is no doubt that the position of those of us who oppose a sale has improved: should USPS attempt to sell the building, Judge Alsup made it clear that the City is free to reinstitute the lawsuit on the same grounds, and must provide the City with 42 days notice before a finalized purchase can occur.

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Richmond, CA joins Berkeley in Passing Resolution in Support of Postal Banking.


THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Richmond City Council requests that the USPS Board of Governors implement without delay the recommendations of the USPS Inspector General in the January 27, 2014, White Paper to provide non-bank financial services for the underserved;

Pass unanimously by the Richmond City Council April 7th, 2015. Full text of resolution is below.

Berkeley City Council unanimously passed a very similar resolution in early February, 2015.

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BPOD Responds to the Post Office’s Non-Response Response to Judge Alsup’s Request.

The City of Berkeley is underestimated by Attorneys for the

United States Postal Service

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015, in the matter of City of Berkeley v USPS, Berkeley’s lawsuit to stop the sale of its downtown Post Office, United States Postal Service lawyers notified Judge William Alsup that they will continue to disregard common sense, the will of the people and federal law by refusing to say that they are halting the sales process of the Main Berkeley Post Office at 2000 Allston Way.

The Post Office’s lawyers stood before Judge Alsup on March 26th in Federal Court and repeatedly asked him to dismiss Berkeley’s lawsuit against the sale on the grounds that a sale was no longer under consideration by the Postal Service. Yet one week later – after being asked by Judge Alsup to “put that in writing” – they refused.

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USPS Sends Judge Alsup a No-Response Response

This is the text of the USPS’s response to Judge Alsup’s March 26th request in the matter of City of Berkeley v USPS, having to do with USPS’ Motion to Dismiss.

This Court requested that, [w]ithin one week defendant shall advise the Court if it rescinds the final determination regarding relocation of retail services in Berkeley, CA. ECF No. 53.

The answer is yes. The 2013 Final Determination was superseded – now having no further force an effect – by the September 2014 decision to maintain services in the Berkeley Main Post Office. Should the Postal Service at some future time decide again that it would be in the best interest of its operations to relocate retail services, the Postal Service will re-initiate the process pursuant to 39 C.F.R.  241.4.

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“It’s An Interesting Case.”

At the hearing on March 26th on the Postal Service’s “Motion to Dismiss” Berkeley’s lawsuit to stop the sale Judge Alsup gave the USPS one week (until April 2nd, 2015) to decide whether to rescind its April, 2013 decision. Rooney, The Post Office attorney, made the claims that the USPS no longer had an immediate interest in selling the building or relocating services, and that in light of the passage of the rezoning ordinance in September, 2014, the Post Office would, in any case, have to reassess its intentions and its NEPA and NHPA analysis.

The Judge directly asked Rooney why, then, the USPS had not rescinded the letter, but did not get a clear answer. He also asked whether USPS would be willing to rescind the letter, but again did not get a direct reply. Alsup ultimately asked Rooney whether USPS wanted the week he was offering them to decide, and Rooney replied in the affirmative.


If USPS decides to rescind the letter, the Judge’s strong implication would be that he would dismiss the suit.

If the USPS decides not to rescind the letter, the Judge would have to decide whose arguments were stronger; whether the suit should be dismissed anyway, as USPS wants, or whether it should be allowed to continue, as Berkeley would like. (That decision might take weeks, even months, as the various threads of the case are complicated and intertwined).

There is also the question of exactly what it would mean, from a legal and procedural point of view, if the USPS did rescind the letter. Would it mean they would be back to square one if they decided to try to sell the building again, e.g., would they have to go through a public comment period, do another NEPA and NHPA analysis, and negotiate another covenant to preserve the building’s historic artwork? Or would it just mean that all they would have to do is issue another “final determination” decision? Or something in between? No one, I suspect, even the judge, really knows.

As Judge Alsup remarked just before the hearing concluded..

“It’s an interesting case.”

For a longer writeup with background.

BPOD to Post Office: Be a Part of Your Community – Supply Water for the Garden of Common Good!

Call the local Postmaster at 510-XXX-XXXX and simply request, or leave a message:

“Please turn on the water for the community garden
at the downtown Berkeley Post Office!”

On January 10th, members of Berkeley Post Office Defenders, First They Came for the Homeless, Save the Berkeley Post Office, Occupy the Farm and a good number of community members came together to create a community garden, dubbed the Garden of Common Good. It’s there for all to see on a small plot of land on Milvia St. right up against the downtown Berkeley Post Office.

Tended carefully, the crops sprouted and flourished. People walk by and smile as they see the green where once was rubbish. At first it was supplied with water from an outside spigot attached to the Post Office wall, using a hose and attachment supplied by the community. Then, at the beginning of March, without warning or explanation, the powers that be at the Post Office turned the water supply off.

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“Berkeley’s Main Post Office building belongs to the people.”

Dear Berkeley Mayor and City Council,

We of Berkeley Post Office Defense (BPOD) are grateful to the City of Berkeley and its pro bono legal representative attorney Tony Rossmann, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, for suing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) over USPS’ ongoing attempt to sell Berkeley’s Main Post Office building and relocate its services against the will of the community.  We are grateful, too, to Save the Berkeley Post Office and the National Post Office Collaborate for helping to set the suit in motion and for organizing the public meeting February 19, 2015 that shared information about it with the community.

At that meeting, Mr. Rossmann stated that the City’s position is that the sale of the Post Office should be stopped, a position we share entirely.  He also stated, however, that if necessary, the City might be open to negotiating an alternative whereby the building would be sold and space leased back to USPS for provision of some postal services.  We are writing to make it clear that we consider this latter alternative unacceptable.

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