New: Historic Preservation Council Report Expected to Aid Campaign to Save Berkeley's Historic Post Office

Thursday April 17, 2014 - 10:12:00 AM

The national Advisory Council on Historic Preservation today issued a report which finds that “significant improvements to United States Postal Service planning and compliance for its historic preservation and disposal programs are needed.”

This opinion is considered a major victory in Berkeley’s campaign to save its historic downtown post office.

On March 11, the Advisory Council met in Oakland to hear from agencies and organizations about their experiences dealing with the Postal Service on sales of historic post offices. Thanks to a vigorous campaign from Berkeley's Save the Post Office organization, many speakers criticized the way the proposed sales have been handled, and the complaints seem to have influenced the council's decision.

Preservation attorney and Berkeley Law faculty member Antonio Rossmann, whose office is in downtown Berkeley near the post office, commented that it “looks like the Advisory Council heard Berkeley: Protect historic uses and suspend all sales of historic post offices until improvements and protections are in place. " 

Rossmann noted that “particularly germane are recommendations to ensure that covenant holders are compensated for the costs of administration, and that termination of a postal use that was deemed historic in the National Register nomination (such as Berkeley's) represents an adverse action that should be avoided.” 

His conclusion: “USPS would seem to be proceeding at great risk if they did not formally suspend the proposed Berkeley Post Office sale.”