There’s always some amount of excitement that comes with opening up the mailbox and seeing a letter or a package.
Yet the near instantaneous nature of email makes the post office seem like a relic in comparison — inefficient, ineffective and old. Regardless, mail remains an essential service in this country, so the U.S. Postal Service is making cuts in an effort to save money. It is because of this that we disagree with Berkeley City Council’s decision to mobilize against the sale of the city’s main post office, currently located in Downtown Berkeley, just off of Shattuck Avenue.
It’s 2012, and the post office can’t function in the way of the past. The U.S. Postal Service is going through a countrywide consolidation plan by merging up to 229 mail processing locations over the next two years in order to save $1.2 billion. The sale and subsequent move of the Berkeley Main Post Office is part of that effort.
Despite being children of the Internet age, we have nothing against post offices. In fact, they still serve a necessary purpose in society — one obviously cannot send a package via email, and post office prices are generally cheaper than those of other providers. It’s just that the post office has taken on a smaller role than in the past. With the proliferation of email, post offices must adapt — and consolidating buildings is the current path.
Inefficient and slow, the Downtown Berkeley post office is not serving the community at the highest level. In order for that to happen — and to save money — it must go through with the move.
We’re not losing the post office. This one would be relocated to the Berkeley Destination Delivery Unit at 1150 8th St., and there are still several others throughout the city. Moreover, another smaller one would be leased in the Downtown area.
The historic building that houses the post office is not going anywhere. Built in 1915 and the home of two Works Progress Administration artwork pieces, the building must remain due to the national register’s guidelines.
We understand the council’s frustration about the sale of the post office, but we don’t think this should be a major focus, especially in an election year. We empathize with their worries, as it is a slippery slope. Relocating one ineffective branch makes sense, but we don’t want to see other post offices in the city close. This should not be a step toward extinction but rather a new path in a new direction for the post offices in the 21st century.