Protesters hold sleep-in to save the Berkeley post office

A group determined to stop the sale of Berkeley's post office set up tents Saturday  night on the steps of the building. Photo: Ted Friedman

Mindy Stone, right, part of a group determined to stop the sale of Berkeley’s downtown post office that set up tents on Saturday July 27 on the steps of the building at 2000 Alston Way. Photo: Ted Friedman

After a group of 100 people rallied Saturday to protest the federal government’s plans to sell Berkeley’s main post office, a group of about 15 people set up tents on the steps of the building at 2000 Allston Way. They camped there overnight.

“We’re here until the post office is saved,” said Mindy Stone, one of the organizers behind Save the Berkeley Post Office.

The protesters are fighting the USPS’ decision to sell the building on Allston Way and rent a smaller space downtown. Postal officials contend they must downscale because the USPS is hermorraging money. Critics believe that the financial crisis was artificially created by Congress, which has required the post office to prepay into employee retirement funds at a much higher rate than other federal departments.

The USPS last week turned down the city’s appeal that it not sell its Renaissance-style building.

Harvey L. Smith, president of the board of trustees of the National New Deal Preservation Association, led a walking tour by the post office on Sunday. Photo: Ted Friedman

Harvey L. Smith, president of the board of trustees of the National New Deal Preservation Association, led a walking tour by the post office on Sunday, July 28. Photo: Ted Friedman

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Tents and signs outside Berkeley’s downtown post office at 2000 Allston Way. Photo: Ted Friedman

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On Sunday night, about six to ten people slept in tents on the steps of the post office. Photo: Ted Friedman

Related:
Locals, city fight on to stop sale of post office [07.19.13]
Berkeley’s political firmament rallies for post office [05.03.13]
Post Office to sell its downtown Berkeley building [04.22.13]
Council asks for 1-year moratorium on post office sale [03.06.13]
USPS hears vocal opposition to sale of downtown building [02.28.13]
Post Office public hearing to focus on Berkeley sale plan [02.26.13]
Berkeley discusses future of main post office [02.13.12]
Protesters take Save Post Office demo to San Francisco [12.05.12]
Rally held to protest sale of Berkeley’s main post office [11.15.12]
Developer eyes Berkeley’s historic post office [08.01.12]
Chances are slim of stopping sale of Berkeley’s post office [07.23.12]
Postal Service plans sale of Berkeley’s main post office [06.25.12]

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  • EarlyMorningCoffee

    There are so many other causes that deserve protesting in a similar manner. Saving a post office that is run inefficiently is not one of them… Nobody is going to demolish the building, so just let it go already!

  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    i think it should be torn down and a mixed use building with appts. above should be built there…
    oh yea they are already building those everywhere else in Berkeley.
    Soon Berkeley will have no architectural Beauty, downtown is going to look like all the buildings came from a cookie cutter.

  • Chris

    How much do you want to bet that the majority of them receive their cell phone / cable / PG&E / etc. bills electronically, or send in their credit card payments electronically, etc.?

  • jth

    A cookie cutter would’ve been far preferable to the monstrosity that is the Chase (née PowerBar) building. Really, nearly all the aesthetically pleasing buildings I can think of in downtown Berkeley have been built in the past ~10 years.

  • AlanTobey

    What’s the problem with saving the BUILDING while considering potential different USES?

    The best way to preserve the integrity of the building is to have it in private hands, where any changes are severely limited by our vigorous landmark preservation ordinance. But fighting a symbolic battle to freeze an impossible status quo is just “hysteric preservation,” and an irrelevant distraction.

  • Bonnie Powers

    To the protesters, I wish you luck, but if possible could you park somewhere besides right in front? Some of us with Handicapped placards use those spaces while we are at the Y in the early morning. This morning there was not a single spot open. Thanks.

  • Charles_Siegel

    I would say that the attractive buildings were built before 1930 or after 1980.

    There was a hiatus when modernism was dominant and they built sterile, ugly boxes like the Chase building.

  • Charles_Siegel

    The comments on this issue on Berkeleyside have been about architectural preservationism and development, pro and con.

    I went to the rally for a while yesterday, and I was surprised to find that this is not the main issue among the protesters at all. Their real focus is opposition to privatization – and to the entire financial system. When they talk about “saving the new deal,” they are talking about saving Social Security – more than about saving post office murals.

    The most prominent group at the rally yesterday seemed to be Debt Strike, which seems to be campaigning for cancelling debts – such as student loans, underwater mortgages. It would be interesting for Berkeleyside to interview someone from Debt Strike, so we could learn what the protesters are really talking about. I don’t quite understand it, myself.

    I am not saying I agree or disagree with them. I am just saying that our discussion on Berkeleyside seems to be missing their point.

  • The_Sharkey

    Their point has very little to do with the actual building they’re protesting in front of.

    I went by on Saturday as well, and found many of them to be the same SMASH CAPITALISM and WE ARE THE 99% dregs left over from local Occupy protests.

  • The_Sharkey

    Is the Mindy Stone who’s organizing this protests telling Berkeley residents how they ought to feel about their Post Office the same Mindy Stone who is an Oakland resident and Occupy Oakland agitator?

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/flgreenstalk/message/19068

  • Guest

    Looks like she is a spammer as well:

    https://twitter.com/freethinker68

  • twenty questions

    “Twenty Questions” (1983)

    What’s her shoe size? Who has she slept with? What’s her favorite kind of music? Does she have any embarrassing personal habits? What were the religious beliefs of her parents? Does she have any pets? What are their names? What color are her eyes? Has she visited New Orleans in the past 18 months? What’s her favorite joke? Does she tip well or is she a little on the cheap side? Has she ever checked out a book about marxism from a public library? Did she return it on time? Does she like to dance? Anything that can be used to discredit her with W.B.? Would she call herself a “feminist”? Does she cook? Has she ever been homeless? Does she get along with her sister? Who the hell are you?

  • guest

    six to ten people sleeping in front of the post office?
    so, a normal night then?

  • iris fleur

    Oh. Protesters. Sleep over. ZZZzzzzzzzzz.

  • iris fleur

    Dear Debt Strike,

    Please start by canceling loans to current UCB students.

    Second… how about canceling those pesky public pension debts? Let the cities be free of pension debt!

  • 2ndGenBerkeleyan

    I’m okay with sleep-ins. But for goodness sake, please don’t use the facade of the precious PO as a urinal, don’t strip bare across from a public high school or dream about a pajama party… Berkeley is perhaps best distinguished these days by its multitude of gourmet eateries of various stripes and we don’t want anyone to lose his or her lunch prematurely or have their appetite spoiled…

  • gwumpycat

    What about auto loans? Can they get rid of those? I’m thinking about buying a Cayenne but I don’t really want to pay for it.

  • meanders

    alas, Berkeley is not full of crazy chaos, as evident from some of the comments. why not recognize that the USPS is effectively bloated and mismanaged, costing all of us taxpayers money? private sector operators could so easily perform the functions of the USPS for less money and with more possibility of efficiency and innovation, without losing public control. just look at deutsche post for example.

  • Charles_Siegel

    “costing all of us taxpayers money”

    Really? How much to taxpayers pay to subsidize the USPS?

    I have heard that the answer is zero, but maybe you have better data.

  • Gus

    Why look all the way to Germany? I believe that the U.S. parcel/post market already features quite a few private sector operators: DHL, UPS, FedEx, etc. Many of those operators do outperform the USPS at delivering parcels in terms of cost and efficiency, though it is also true that Congress has placed financial constraints upon the USPS that private operators do not face.

    However, even given those constraints, there are no private operators in the U.S. market that can compete with USPS at delivering a first-class letter. Or bulk mail. Now, perhaps those services don’t need to exist anymore, but there’s no question that they would be more expensive for consumers if the USPS were no longer a player in the U.S. market.

    In fact, some of those private operators make use of USPS services to keep their costs down, such as FedEx’s SmartPost service.

    Maybe you just reflexively don’t like the government to run things, and that’s fine, though not very thoughtful. But it’s not at all the case that public investment in the U.S. parcel/post market is crowding out private investment and innovation in that sector.

  • Jobu

    Don’t talk sense into Bezerkeley! This is the same place where protestors blocked taking down a few trees near the UC Stadium…forget that that energy could have be spent saving hundreds perhaps thousands elsewhere.

  • The_Sharkey

    I think it’s more likely that her Twitter account got hacked.

  • The_Sharkey

    The fact that she’s an outside agitator and serial protester seems germane to the discussion.

    All that other stuff? Not so much.

  • Bill N

    I walked by there today and it looked like the most hapless, waste of time I’ve ever seen and will do nothing for our PO aside from making a mess for someone to clean up.

  • Riley

    What a waste of time and free space.. What are they protesting? The building cannot be torn down! If anything it will be updated and some fantastic new business will move in furthering the already revitalization of the downtown area. Oh yeah these are the same people who do not live in Berkeley and do not pay tax but take all of our free social services. They are not representative of our community that is what angers me the most.

  • jacquelyn mccormick

    You are hilarious! And right on point!

  • refocus_please

    This is what happens when a bunch of sour old ladies take over Occupy Berkeley’s general assembly.
    Banal idiotic issues become more important than reality.
    Is anyone starving or homeless because of a closing post office?

  • guest

    please don’t use the names of living former mayoral candidates when posting
    use your own name or a pseudonym

  • steve

    The Occupy and random transient folks who are currently sleeping and using the entrance and perimeter of the building as a toilet have no interest in preserving the Post Office. I also have passed by when there was a fistfight brewing, or actually taking place. Enough! It has been, for several years, a horribly inefficient Post Office anyway. Time to start over in a less venerable location that migh actually be available one block up on Shattuck or even closer to the UC campus..