Berkeley Fights to Save Its Post Office

The Downtown Berkeley’s Main Post Office is widely recognized as not just a local treasure but also a national treasure. Completed in 1913, this strikingly handsome building is modeled on Brunelleschi’s Foundling Hospital in Florence, an architectural icon of the Italian Renaissance. Like hundreds of post offices around the country, Berkeley’s is adorned with art commissioned by the Treasury Department during the New Deal. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

In June, the U.S. Postal Service notified the City of Berkeley of the impending sale of the downtown post office. Gray Brechin, Harvey Smith and Ying Lee of the Living New Deal quickly joined forces with labor and community organizers to form Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office. They began working with the City Council and Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office to seek a solution and rallied public opposition to the sale.

Citizens protest at the Downtown Berkeley Main Post Office

Citizens protest at the Downtown Berkeley Main Post Office
Berkeley, California

In September, the City Council held a public meeting at City Hall with post office officials to discuss alternatives to selling the post office. At the standing-room-only meeting, several Berkeley residents spoke passionately about the loss of Berkeley’s main post office and dismantling of the Postal Service. The Postal Service is the second largest employer in the country after Walmart. Layoffs proposed by Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe threaten over 200,000 living wage jobs that can only worsen a lingering recession.

At the City Council’s request, Postal Service officials agreed to consider proposals offering alternatives to privatization. However, they declined to participate in any further Council meetings, insisting on a “more neutral” setting.

The USPS had scheduled its public meeting just two days before Thanksgiving, with scant public outreach. When Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office objected the USPS called off the meeting. The meeting date has not been set.

[Ed. Note: This post has been updated and is accurate as of 11/14/12; we will update again if a new meeting is scheduled.]

For more information, contact Harvey Smith.
Harvey Smith is an advisor to the Living New Deal.

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