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Feature Stories

Postal Service Moves to LA Center

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 16
8/9/2013


By Kirt Ramirez

Postal customers shouldn’t see any changes in their mail delivery or at the Redondo Avenue post office, after part of the office moved away recently.

Only the mail-processing portion of the facility at 2300 Redondo Ave. shut down. The rest of the office is open for business as usual. A complete closure was never on the table.

“The Post Office on Redondo Ave. was never being considered for closure. USPS only proposed consolidating and relocating the mail processing operations from the Long Beach facility to the mail processing facility in Los Angeles,” said U.S. Postal Service spokesman Richard Maher.

“That move of operations was approved and successfully took place on July 1. It is projected to save $16 million annually.”

The behind-the-scenes move was transparent to customers and there were no changes to mail delivery or public services, he added.

Retail service at the front counter, stamps, mail collection, P.O. boxes, passports and everything else has stayed the same, he said.

“Only Signal Hill letter carriers are housed at the Redondo Ave. facility,” he added. “Long Beach letter carriers are located at other various offices around the city.”

About 400 mail processing employees who worked at the Long Beach plant were reassigned to other positions in the area, Maher said. “About 100 retired this year before the consolidation took place. There were no layoffs.”

For the past few years outgoing mail from Long Beach had been processed in Santa Ana. But mail coming into Long Beach had been processed at the Redondo Ave. facility. To save money – and since the Los Angeles plant had extra capacity – Los Angeles now handles all inbound and outbound mail for Long Beach.
Maher explained a letter’s journey:

“If you drop a letter in a collection box in Long Beach it is picked up and transported to the Los Angeles Processing and Distribution Center, 7001 S. Central Ave. There it is postmarked, sorted and transported to its delivery destination. If it is out of state, it would go to the airport to catch a flight; if it is local it would be trucked back to Long Beach. This process takes place overnight, so a local letter mailed in Long Beach for delivery in Long Beach would be delivered the next day.”

It appears e-mail has affected post office revenue. When someone sends an e-mail instead of an actual letter with a postage stamp, the post office loses money. However, when someone purchases something on the Internet, the post office can make money from the package delivery.

“Electronic communication and business transactions are a big reason for decline in mail volume and subsequent loss of revenue. The Internet also creates volume for USPS – our package volume has grown 14% in the past two years as a result of online shopping.
“Although a federal agency, USPS does not receive tax dollars for its operations, but covers costs solely through the sale of postage and postal products and services.”

The biggest reason for the USPS losing money has to do with a congressional mandate however. Maher explains:

“The main driver of USPS net losses (over $40 billion during the past five years) is a congressional mandate that USPS prepay future retiree health benefits 75 years in advance during a 10-year period. No other agency or business in the nation is required to do this. USPS has asked Congress to address this issue. Although USPS is doing everything within its authority to reduce costs and grow revenue, it needs comprehensive postal legislation to be passed in order for it to regain financial solvency.”

The USPS could save money by using Neighborhood Delivery Collection Box Units (NDCBU) – cluster mailboxes – so that the postal carrier doesn’t have to walk to each home.

The cluster mailboxes are often seen in condo and apartment complexes, shopping centers, business parks and newer housing developments, Maher explained, adding that for decades the Postal Service has only authorized curbline or NDCBU delivery mode in new developments.

“At over $30 billion annually, delivering mail to 152 million addresses in the U.S. is the largest single cost the Postal Service has. And while total mail volume has declined nearly 25% since 2006, lowering postal revenues, delivery costs are fixed. The letter carrier goes to each address whether there are two pieces of mail or ten.

“The Postal Service is well aware of the savings of centralized delivery over the door-to-door method. It costs $353 a year per address to deliver to the door; $224 to a curbline box; and $160 to a centralized cluster box.”

Congressman Darrell Issa recently introduced a bill that would mandate all addresses be converted to centralized delivery by the year 2020, Maher said.

Meanwhile, since the July 1 consolidation, a birthday post card to reporter Steve Propes in the 5th District was mailed on a Monday from a post office in the 4th District. It took an unusual two days and arrived on Wednesday. Later, a “test” letter to him got there the next day.

A birthday postcard to a great-aunt in the Netherlands took six days instead of the usual seven to 10 days.

kirt@longbeachcomber.com