Schiff fights for post office

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) on Tuesday called on the U.S. postmaster general to abandon plans to close and sell the historic post office on Broadway in Glendale as part of a nationwide effort to rein in costs.

In his letter, Schiff said closing the office at 313 E. Broadway “would mean a significant degradation in services for the community” and do little to achieve the agency's goal.

Richard Maher, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said officials are considering closing the building, but would relocate services to a smaller retail site nearby.

He added that mail carriers would be transferred to other facilities, which should not affect delivery. Clerks would also be transferred to the new retail site, Maher said, and staff reductions would be minor, such as custodial positions.

Before the postal service would move forward with plans to close and sell the Broadway facility, residents would be notified and public input meetings would be held, Maher said.

In his letter, Schiff said the facility's closure would significantly degrade services for small-business owners and residents, some of whom rely on the post office daily.

Schiff also said seniors who live in the neighborhood around the post office on Broadway may no longer have a postal facility within walking distance.

However, Maher said it was “a little premature to say that this is going to have a negative impact on the community.”

But for some patrons who learned Tuesday of the preliminary plan, the idea of closing the facility fell flat.

Carolynn Lyons works at the nearby Glendale Federal Credit Union, which has been using a postal box at the Broadway facility for more than 20 years.

“I'd hate for the employees to lose their jobs, because they're so great,” she said.

Arman Hovhannisyan, who has been using the Broadway post office for 10 years, was a bit more frank.

“Are they crazy? I think over 90% of Glendale uses this office,” he said. “Tell them not to do that. Are they stupid?”

The postal service has been struggling to chisel away at annual multibillion-dollar operating deficits. Last year, the deficit was $15.9 billion, Maher said.

But Schiff argued in his letter that “misguided” plans to sell the historic building wouldn't do much toward efforts to cut the postal service's operating deficit.

Plans for the potential closure of the historic building had been the topic of private discussions with local officials, but Schiff's letter pushed them into the limelight.

Postal officials met with city officials late last year and told them about their tentative plans to sell the historic building, which was built during the Great Depression.

Community Development Director Hassan Haghani said city officials were “very upfront” about their concerns.

“The use of the building is extremely important from a historic preservation standpoint,” Haghani said, adding that postal officials were warned that Glendale is “very passionate about historic preservation” and would likely mount a strong defense of the facility.

City officials suggested the postal service close another facility in the community and consolidate it in the historic Broadway building.

There are five other post offices in Glendale, including facilities on San Fernando Road, Foothill Boulevard and Pacific Avenue.

However, postal officials said a cost-analysis study showed that keeping the Broadway post office open was not feasible.

“The facility there is much too large for us,” Maher said.

The postal service has already relocated and consolidated postal facilities in other Southland cities, including Venice and Santa Monica. Similar plans are in the works for West Hollywood and Thousand Oaks, Maher said.

While the city is taking a wait-and-see approach now, Haghani said there are plans in the offing if the postal service moves forward with closing the historic post office.

City officials would make sure there are “good policies” in place to preserve the historic structure, and would require that any proposed use for the building would not diminish its value to the community, Haghani said.


Follow Mark Kellam on Twitter @LAMarkKellam.

Staff writer Daniel Siegal contributed reporting.

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