Updated: Berkeley's Post Office Suit is Dismissed:
USPS Must Start All Over Again in Attempt to Sell

Antonio Rossman
Wednesday April 15, 2015 - 03:29:00 PM

Editor's Note: Antonio Rossmann of Rossmann and Moore,LLP, the firm that has been representing Berkeley in the city's suit to prevent the sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office, has informed the Planet that the judge in the case has dismissed the suit in such a way that if the Post Office wants to try again to sell the building, it will have to start the whole process over from the beginning. Here is a summary of what happened from Rossmann and Roger Moore:

UPDATE from Roger Moore:

Today Judge Allsup issued another order in which he expressly retains jurisdiction until April 16, 2020, to enforce the court's requirement to provide the City and National Trust 42 days notice before closing any future sale or issuing any new decision to relocate the Berkeley Main Post Office.

This new order retaining the court's jurisdiction reinforces the understanding that the City and National Trust effectively won in their efforts to secure meaningful relief in their actions. They secured USPS's rescission of its decision to relocate the post office, prevented its sale, and obtained an enforceable court order requiring USPS' compliance with the court-established notice period before proceeding with any future decisions to relocate or to close on a sale.

From Antonio Rossmann:

Yesterday Judge Alsup dismissed the City’s and the National Trust’s cases challenging the USPS’s proposed relocation and sale of the Main Berkeley Post Office on the ground that the cases were moot. While the cases were dismissed, the result of Judge Alsup’s order is actually quite favorable to the plaintiffs, because in order to render the cases moot, the USPS had to formally rescind its decision to relocate the post office from 2000 Allston Way. The decision to relocate was the USPS’s first step in moving towards a sale. As a result, the USPS is back at square one, and there is no longer any decision to relocate postal services out of the Main Post Office at 2000 Allston Way . 

Because the cases were dismissed as moot, the Judge did not rule on the merits, so all of our arguments about noncompliance with NEPA and NHPA remain intact and viable, and can be asserted if and when the USPS tries to sell the building again. Judge Alsup also included in his order a provision that will prevent the USPS from selling the building without giving the City and the National Trust the opportunity to assert these challenges again: 

The [USPS] must provide plaintiffs with written notice at least 42 calendar days in advance of the closing of any future sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office or any final determination to relocate retail post office services. 

In a nutshell, Judge Alsup has effectively granted the City and National Trust the relief we requested by requiring USPS to make a binding commitment that its decisions to relocate and sell the post office have been rescinded. 

All in all, while it is disappointing not to be able to litigate the NEPA and NHPA issues to a final judgment, the litigation has accomplished its primary goal of keeping the post office at 2000 Allston Way.