BY NICK DIAMANTIDES
The United States Postal Service (USPS) recently announced that it is undertaking a study to determine whether to move some of the operations at the USPS facility on Redondo Avenue to Santa Ana or Los Angeles. The announcement caused concern among Signal Hill city officials because those changes could have negative impacts on the city and local businesses. However, a USPS spokesman insisted that nothing has been decided yet, and input from the surrounding communities will be a significant factor in whatever decision is made. The Redondo Avenue facility serves as a post office, regional mail distribution center, and bulk mail handling site.
On January 22, Florinda Bailey, USPS customer relations manager, USPS Santa Ana District, sent a letter to Long Beach bulk mail permit holders. In the letter, she explained that the Postal Service was reviewing mail processing and transportation operations at the Redondo Avenue facility with the possibility of moving them to one of the two other facilities mentioned above. “The reason for the study is to review mail volume and determine capacity needs in order to increase efficiency and improve productivity,” she said. “In doing so, we will be able to continue to provide universal service at a reasonable cost for a long time to come.”
Bailey noted that the USPS is facing one of the most challenging times in its history with a continual decline in single-piece first-class mail volumes during the past decade. “The current economic decline has led to an even greater decline in volume with the loss of over 9 billion pieces in this past year alone,” she stressed.
Bailey explained that the decrease in first-class volume and the resultant decrease in revenues have forced the Postal Service to begin a realignment of its processing and delivery network to match its resources. “The reality is we have an excess of equipment, staff and facilities to process a declining volume of mail,” she said. “Consolidating some postal operations only makes logical business sense given the economic realities. It would be fiscally irresponsible not to do so.”
Signal Hill City Manager Ken Farfsing, who read the letter, said it did not clearly state what the USPS was contemplating for the Redondo Avenue mail facility. He said he hoped the Postal Service was not contemplating doing away with Signal Hill’s zip code (90755) since city officials had spent almost 18 years trying to establish it before it became a reality a few years ago.
“We are also not clear on other possible implications,” Farfsing said. “Would the entire grounds be sold, meaning that the entire post office would go away?” He explained that the City of Signal Hill does bulk mailing to its residents and if that operation was transferred to Santa Ana or Los Angeles it would significantly increase the time city staff spends on mailing over the course of a year. “The same is true for all local businesses that use bulk mailing,” he added.
Farfsing also said the loss of USPS jobs– 895 at the Redondo Avenue facility– could also have a significant impact on the Long Beach Signal Hill area.
Signal Hill Mayor Mike Noll said he needed more information, but, at this point, the idea of moving operations elsewhere didn’t seem to make sense. “This is a state-of-the-art post office that was only built several years ago, and it’s one of the busiest ones,” he said. “We will have to meet with the postmaster in this area and find out what’s going on and if necessary start a campaign (to save the facility).”
Signal Hill City Councilman Larry Forester said he too was concerned about what the USPS was contemplating for the Redondo Avenue facility. “I would prefer that it not be closed and will do everything in my power to prevent that from closing,” he said. “But realizing the economic circumstances that we are all in, if consolidation to another facility makes more sense, I would be open to discussion.”
Southern California USPS spokesperson Richard Maher said although a decision had not yet been made on whether to move the bulk mail processing and regional mail distribution units to other locations, the USPS was not contemplating closing the retail post office on Redondo Avenue and there was no chance that Signal Hill could lose its zip code. “It’s premature to try to address the what ifs,” he said. “We are just doing a study there. We are just studying the possibility of realigning or consolidating some of the operations of that facility.”
Maher said the study began on January 22 and would take about 60 days to complete. He noted that several years ago the Long Beach USPS district was divided into two districts– one based in Santa Ana and the other based in Los Angeles. “The postal service continually looks at and analyzes our operations in order to operate most efficiently,” he said. “This study is just a part of that ongoing process. We receive no tax dollars for our operations and, in order to keep postal raters as stable as possible with all our costs rising, we have to respond to current market conditions.”
He added that the USPS is soliciting input concerning the Redondo Avenue facility. Comments may be mailed to:
Consumer Affairs Manager
3101 W. Sunflower Avenue
Santa Ana, CA 92799-9325
Or made over the phone to Scott Jones, USPS manager at (714) 662-6447