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New: Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office Will Withdraw from Berkeley Post Office on Sunday to Move Forward in Their Fight

From Margot Smith, Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office
Monday August 19, 2013 - 12:21:00 PM

Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office worked for the last year to prevent the sale of our historic Civic Center Berkeley Post Office building. They count among their successes the local and national press coverage of the issue, broad public support and continued pressure on the U.S. Postal Service.

To build on these successes, Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office are now concentrating on the lawsuit challenging the Post Office sale, legislative action by our State and Federal representatives, and a city of Berkeley effort to rezone the downtown as a governmental, cultural and educational district. The group is also working with other communities across the nation who are threatened with the sales of their post offices. From the Bronx to Santa Monica, the USPS is selling the historic post offices that were entrusted to it.

Because of the need to focus on legal, legislative and community matters, Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office finds that it is time to withdraw from participation in the camp at the Main Post Office as of noon, Sunday, August 18. 2013. We deeply appreciate the commitment of those in the encampment, but need to withdraw to work on other priorities. The encampment or In-Tents Defense of our Post Office is self-governed by Berkeley Post Office Defense which shares our goals of public ownership of our historic post office and a United States Postal Service that serves the common good. 

Several thousand Berkeley citizens have signed letters to our legislators and support the fight. The whole community--the city of Berkeley, the California Assembly and Senate, and federal representatives have supported the efforts to prevent the sale of this historic building. Media coverage includes the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, KTVU, KRON, KABC television. Congressional proposals are in process by Senator Bernie Sanders and from our own Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

Recently, the U.S.Postal Service notified Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates that the appeal of the Downtown Berkeley Post Office is under consideration by the U.S. Postal Service Postal Regulatory Commission, and it will make a decision within 120 days. If the USPS finds that they will continue with the sale, we may return to the encampment.

Citizens to Save the Berkeley Post Office would like to thank its many supporters and encourage them to join with us in the continuing effort. We will still have tables and information in front of the post office to keep people aware of the issues.

In Berkeley, work proceeds at several levels to prevent the sale of our cultural heritage.

o Legally: Save the Berkeley Post Office is joining with the National Post Office Collaborate to take legal action with other communities, such at La Jolla, the Bronx, and Chelsea, NY, to stop these sales.
o Legislation: Senator Bernie Sanders is being asked to amend his bill to prevent the sale of historic post office. Thirty Senators and 167 Congressman are co-sponsoring his bill and the companion bill in the House. We are also trying to rezone the area.
o Education and Outreach: The Committee continues to table and leaflet in front of the Post Office to encourage Berkeley residents to support efforts to save the building for the public which it was meant to serve and which paid for it.
o Fundraising: the public is asked to make a tax-deductible donation to the National Post Office Collaborate to support the legal efforts to stop these sales. Please go to ;;; then click on DONATE. Or mail a check to the National Post Office Collaborate, P.O. Box 1234, Berkeley, CA 94701

"We want these post office buildings to stay within the public domain," said Jacquelyn McCormick, who organized the National Post Office Collaborate to prevent these sales. It is working with Harold Hughes, retired USPS General Counsel, now an attorney with Utah-based Ford & Huff, to look at legal strategies.

In April the Postal Service approved the sale of three other historic post office buildings: the Wall Street post office in La Jolla, Old Chelsea on West 18th Street in New York City, and the Bronx General Post Office on the Grand Concourse. As in Berkeley, these three post offices contain New Deal public artworks. The murals in the Bronx by Ben Shahn are masterpieces, monumental in scale and extremely well-known. We, along with these cities, are legally challenging the U.S.P.S.' right to sell these historic buildings.

There is no real financial need for the USPS to sell off its assets. As of 2003, the USPS real estate portfolio had an estimated worth of $110 billion. The process of privatizing USPS real estate holdings may yield enormous commissions to CB Richard Ellis, the giant commercial realty firm that was awarded an exclusive contract for USPS property sales. University of California Regent Richard Blum is the chairman of CB Richard Ellis and the husband of California Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Margot Smith
Save the Berkeley Post Office