A grass roots movement is growing in Berkeley, California to stop the sale of the beautiful Downtown Post Office. Tuesday afternoon over a hundred citizens gathered on the steps of the historic 1914 building.
In between songs written for the rally, UC Berkeley Geography Professor Gray Brechin spoke of the charismatic building and how it served as a model for the thousand or so post offices that were built during the New Deal. Post Office buildings were intended to inspire and remind each of us of our government’s commitment to the general welfare. The Berkeley Post office has two New Deal works of art. Even though the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the U.S. Post Office has announced its intention to sell the landmark 1914 building.
Dr. Brechin put this sale of our patrimony in perspective:
If that sale (of the Berkeley Downtown Post Office) goes through as planned, it will be only the latest instance of an accelerating heist from the public domain as the USPS Board of Governors and Congress incrementally unravel America’s 237-year old postal system.Nationwide the Postal Service is being advised on the sale of its often valuable and irreplaceable properties by real estate giant CB Richard Ellis. Interesting fact: the Chairman of CBRE is Richard Blum, a regent of the University of California and husband to California Senator Dianne Feinstein.
The plan this evening was to petition the Berkeley City Council to go on record against the sale. But the City Council re-scheduled the meeting to next week. The talk is that Mayor Tom Bates received an advisory letter from the United States Post Office in mid-June. Instead of filing a protest within the 15-day filing period, Bates sat on the letter. Mayor Bates writes that his concern is preserving the appearance of the building but not the function and that the City of Berkeley will work…
with the Postal Service…in the sales process…(to) develop… the sale covenants needed to safeguard the interior and exterior of this lovely building. …I also want to make sure that the public is guaranteed access to the interior of the building and especially to the 1936 mural that depicts figures from California’s Spanish and pioneer history.The best use of this building is as a post office, not as a pizzeria or coffee shop or sports apparel store. Much of the financial crisis of the Postal Service is manufactured. Jim Hightower analyzes the Postal Service financial crisis:
The City of Berkeley is committed to working with the United States Postal Service to make this transition as smooth as possible while maintaining our historic building.
The Post Office is not broke--and it hasn't taken any of our tax money since 1971.