Mayor, State Representatives appeal post office sale

Kevin Hahn/Staff
Mayor Tom Bates announces his appeal of the Berkeley Main Post Office sale in May.

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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates, State Senator Loni Hancock and State Assemblymember Nancy Skinner signed a joint letter appealing the sale of the city’s main post office on Friday morning.

The appeal was signed and mailed at the same Downtown Berkeley post office slated for sale at a ceremony attended by more than 30 people. The U.S. Postal Service recently approved relocating its Downtown Berkeley space as part of a nationwide effort to cut costs and consolidate offices.

“We’re not going gently,” Bates said. “We’re asking Congress to have a moratorium on all post office sales.”

The letter, sent to the Postal Service vice president of facilities, stands in allegiance with various Berkeley community members. Residents have contested the Postal Service’s intent to sell since its announcement last June.

“(The letter) is a small step but a unified effort,” said Berkeley resident Claudia Smukler. “It’s good to see Berkeley and local representatives unanimous.

Members of the local committee Save the Post the Berkeley Post Office also reiterated how the sale is part of attempts to privatize public services across the nation.

“This is the heart of Berkeley and the center of civic life,” said Harvey Smith, president of Save the Berkeley Post Office. “During the New Deal, they built the post office among a community theatre and a credit building that is now City Hall. In the depth of the  Depression, the government put people to work, and now, they are doing just the opposite.”

Bates said the Berkeley community will continue rallying against the sale even after the Postal Service’s 15-day appeals period. At the signing, Save the Berkeley Post Office members said they have planned a rally for May 7 and are preparing to file lawsuits under the National Historic Preservation Act in an effort to stop the sale.

 “(The letter) is a good beginning for phase two, because we will be fighting and fighting,” said Sally Nelson, a member of Save the Berkeley Post Office.

Alyssa Neumann covers city government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @AlyNeumann.