October 20th, 2015
Mr. Tom Samra
Vice President, Facilities
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, DC 20260-1101
Dear Mr. Samra,
At a meeting of the Berkeley City Council on June 30th, 2015 the Council approved a resolution regarding the Main Post Office at 2000 Allston Way in downtown Berkeley (attached), and requested that City offices begin discussions on the following issues with the appropriate staff from the United States Postal Service (USPS):
As Mike Zint, still Occupying the Post Office exterior as a member of First They Came for the Homeless, put it on their Facebook page:
We have a pumpkin patch here at the Berkeley Post Office community garden. The post office has already removed food crops once, but we will replant. Most people don’t understand the importance of this garden. This is the only community garden on postal property in the country, and it has lasted for 8 months. If this seems minor, try putting a community garden in the commons, and see how long it lasts.
BPOD members Carol and Kathy have been diligently watering the garden, hauling H20 to the site and preventing the drought and the sunny days from shriveling the flora into nothingness.
Some recent pics from the garden:
Folks gathered on July 25th, 2015 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of the downtown Berkeley Post Office. Local activist Moni Law emceed, BPOD members Mike Wilson and Dave Welsh spoke along with SBPO members Harvey Smith and Margot Smith spoke; union members Susan Hammer, Shirley Taylor and Omar Gonzalez said a few words each, and Berkeley City Council members Linda Maio and Max Anderson waxed politic.
Redd Welsh, Carol Denny and Mac & Bobby sang, while Mrs. T Bill Banks entertained with a comedy monologue.
The keynote was a talk by Peter Bryne, an investigative reporter who wrote
Here is the video of his remarks.
Only July 30th the Berkeley City Council passed a resolution calling for dialogue with the Postal Service over the future use of the downtown Post Office at 2000 Allston Way.
In an article written by Judith Scherr the next day, Councilperson Linda Maio, sponsor of the resolution, noted that postal officials have never listened to the city and was quoted as saying “I’d just like to get them to talk to us.”
Maio also said “the post office should initiate a pilot program of postal banking and use the rear of the building for civic purposes such as government administrative offices or nonprofit programs.”
Unfortunately, Postal officials seem to be as deaf to community involvement as they have always been. As Scherr reported
Ruiz further contended that the downtown post office “already has full services.”
Reminded that there is no longer package pickup or bulk mail processing downtown, Ruiz argued that those services are easily available just a mile away on San Pablo Avenue.
But there is some hope. It’s not up to Ruiz. He said “…the request for a meeting would go to district postal officials.”
TO PRESERVE AND BEST UTILIZE THE DOWNTOWN BERKELEY MAIN POST OFFICE BUILDING
WHEREAS, the United States Postal Service, through its pleadings in City of Berkeley v Donahoe, has stated that Berkeley’s downtown Post Office at 2000 Allston Way is not for sale, nor are services to be transferred out of that location;
and WHEREAS, the City of Berkeley is no longer engaged in a lawsuit with the United States Postal Service contesting the building’s sale;
and WHEREAS, the City of Berkeley, its City Council and its citizens have an abiding interest in preserving their historic downtown Post Office, maintaining and expanding its services and utilizing the space for the public good;
Our beautiful community bulletin board was removed – possibly by the Postal Police – sometime in the early morning hours of June 10th. It had been there for more than a month. The Occupation tent, nonetheless, remains.
The Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General’s Report on offering Financial Services and Banking at the Post Office.
Local reporter Judith Scheer on Postal Banking et al:
On Tuesday afternoon, with about a dozen service windows shuttered, 24 people waited for help from two postal clerks…
Local activist Sharon Maldonado with Save the Berkeley Post Office said postal banking would be a positive step toward re-establishing the fiscal health of USPS…
J.P. Massar of Berkeley Post Office Defenders echoed the report’s concern for the 68 million people outside the mainstream banking system who pay usurious fees to cash checks and take out loans.
Judy Greenspan writing on “Victory in Struggle to Save Berkeley Post Office” in Workers’ World:
The information booth is still standing. The occupation of the front of the Berkeley Main Post Office by “First They Came for the Homeless” continued into May. But the main battle to save this historic building was won on April 14…
According to Dave Welsh… “Our victory is a result of nearly three years of intense political activity by the people of Berkeley, including two lengthy encampments. I think people have had enough of privatization. We all wanted to keep the post office as a public place. I hope this will be the beginning of many victories across the country.”