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.
As notice of continued community commitment, BPOD strongly urges the Berkeley City Council to reiterate its firm stance opposing a sale by reaffirming its intent to sue should another sales attempt arise. We also wish to thank the entire community – which has persevered for three years in this fight – for the role each and every participant played in opposing the sale, and we send notice to the Postal Service that none of us are going away.
Instead of a cycle of litigation without end, Berkeley Post Office Defenders and First They Came for the Homeless call on the Postal Service to permanently renounce a sale and enter into discussions with the community about how to best use the space for the public good in the spirit of the Zoning Ordinance we pushed for and which ultimately passed. We created the community garden on Milvia – transformed from a trash dump to blooming greenery. We have more ideas: using some of the excess space as an incubator for postal banking, as a library annex for online access, as a service center for homeless people and/or urban gardening. We suggest installing solar panels on the vast, flat roof, both for revenue and the environment. And there is office space along Milvia and the parking spaces in the back that could be rented – unused resources in the heart of downtown.
The Berkeley Post Office was built with the sweat and tax equity of our great-grandparents. It belongs to the people. It can and must remain as a Post Office in perpetuity – while additionally serving the community in other ways.