The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has relocated the West Hollywood Post Office’s retail services to a new facility at 458 N. Doheny Drive. The location opened its doors to the public on Monday.
Budget issues have prompted the agency to consolidate operations throughout the country. The financial problems hit the West Hollywood Post Office in November 2012, when the USPS proposed combining the carrier operations for the post offices in West Hollywood and Beverly Hills at the former location on North San Vicente Boulevard.
To accomplish that, the USPS needed to relocate the retail services for both post offices. The Beverly Hills retail services are expected to remain in their current location at 325 N. Maple Drive. USPS sold the building but will lease space.
“That was the best of what was available,” USPS spokesman Richard Maher said of the new West Hollywood facility. “There are still some issues we are working on.”
He said USPS is looking at different ways to mitigate the noise caused by bringing the mail in and unloading it. The agency is also analyzing ways to improve the parking situation at the site, Maher said.
“Parking’s pretty tight up there,” he added.
A lack of parking options was a common complaint by residents visiting the post office on Tuesday. West Hollywood resident Dave Camus said the post office needs to implement 20-minute parking on Doheny Drive.
“Otherwise, there’s no parking, and this sucks. Parking is a huge thing,” he said.
Camus was happy to hear that the new location’s lobby will be open 24 hours a day.
“That’s a positive thing the other one didn’t have,” he said. “So it could be good, but there’s no place to park.”
Another West Hollywood resident, Don Sheldon, praised the parking at the old location, but said the customer service there was lacking.
“This is a lot better,” he said. “The only thing good about the San Vicente one was the parking was the best.”
Maher said USPS is searching for alternate parking locations, and is reaching out to businesses and organizations in the area to see if they have a few spaces the agency could lease.
“We’re still working on a couple issues like that,” he added.
Maher said USPS has not heard a lot of support or opposition for the location change, but residents have voiced concerns about impacts. Since there is less activity at the location, vehicle traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods has not been negatively affected by the new operation, he said.
“Because of the change in the operation for this facility, a lot of those concerns won’t materialize, such as traffic, because it’s a different type of operation there,” Maher said.
He said the 24-hour lobby is being conducted on a trial basis. Maher said the agency could not offer that service at the old location because of issues involving homeless individuals.
“We’re going to try that and see how it works,” he added.
Maher also said that USPS is placing a self-service kiosk at the former San Vicente location for customers to buy stamps and mail packages without commuting to the new location on Doheny Drive.
Throughout the process, local and federal legislators have been critical of the location change, stating that the San Vicente Boulevard post office offered a central location with plenty of parking.
“I’m disappointed in the decision that they made to move,” West Hollywood City Councilman Jeff Prang said. “I think the new location is inferior to the previous location, but the decision has been made.”
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the move will not save the agency a lot of money.
“The relocation of West Hollywood Post Office’s retail operations, like the many closures of entire facilities around the country, has done little to save USPS money, but only served to degrade the quality and convenience of service to residents,” he said in a statement. “Until the postal service modifies the burden of prefunding its retirement plan in such short order, it will continue to operate at an artificial but enormous deficit.”
According to a press release, USPS had a net loss of $1.9 billion between Jan. 1 and March 31. It was the 20th time in the last 22 quarters that the agency has reported a loss, the release states.
“The postal service is working diligently to improve its finances by streamlining our network to improve efficiency, reduce operating costs and increase revenue, which was up $379 million over the same period last year — the third straight quarter of revenue increase,” Postmaster General and CEO Patrick Donahoe said in the release. “Despite aggressive cost-cutting factors, however, we will still incur annual inflationary cost increases of approximately $1.2 billion each year, and first-class mail volume continues to decline.”
According to the release, USPS is looking to increase its package delivery by offering additional customer benefits, such as improved tracking and Sunday and day-specific delivery.
Joseph Corbett, USPS’ chief financial officer and executive vice president, said restructuring the retiree health plan will not solve the agency’s fiscal problems.
“Our liabilities exceed our assets by $42 billion, and we have a need for more than $10 billion to invest in new delivery vehicles, package sortation equipment and other deferred investments,” he said in the release. “We haven’t been making the retiree health benefit prefunding payments because we can’t. If legislation reduced the required retiree health benefit prefunding payment, it doesn’t provide us with any more cash to pay down our debt or put much needed capital into our business. Only comprehensive postal legislation that includes a smarter delivery schedule, greater control over our personnel and benefit costs, and more flexibility in pricing and products will provide the necessary cash flows.”
Last week, USPS released a plan to consolidate 82 mail processing facilities nationwide, Maher said. He said no facilities will be impacted in the greater Los Angeles area, though an operation in the city of Industry could be affected.
“We’re still in a very serious financial situation,” Maher said. “Since Congress can’t act, the only thing we can do is try to consolidate our services and kind of tighten our belt while providing services. That’s the only option we have.”
The Doheny Drive location is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; and from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturdays.
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