Tag Archives: Berkeley Post Office

Federal report calls to stop sale of Berkeley post office

Post Office by DH Parks
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Local officials and preservationists are heartened by a new report that calls for the United States Postal Service to suspend the closing and sale of all historic post offices, including the Main Post Office at 2000 Allston Way.

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), an independent federal agency that advises the President, Congress, and other federal officials on how to preserve the nation’s historic resources, issued a critical report Thursday. It said the USPS had not been following the law when it ordered that dozens of historic post offices – often the core of communities – be shuttered and sold. … Continue reading »

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Fairmont group and Richard Blum buy Claremont Hotel

The Claremont Hotel & Resort has been purchased by the  Fairmont hotel group and Richard Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein Photo: Paula Steele
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Richard Blum, the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein and a member of  the UC Board of Regents, has joined forces with FRHI Hotels & Resorts to purchase the Claremont Hotel and Spa.

Blum and the Fairmont group closed the deal on March 21, a few weeks later that initially expected. Terms of the deal were not announced. … Continue reading »

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Congress puts hold on sale of Berkeley’s main Post Office

Mayor Tom Bates, flanked by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and State Senator Loni Hancock, mailed a letter to the U.S. Postal Service appealing the planned sale of Berkeley’s main post office in May. Photo: Lance Knobel
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The House Appropriations Committee, in its recommendations accompanying the $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill passed by the House yesterday, calls for the United States Postal Service to “suspend the sale of any historic post office” pending the completion of an investigation by the Inspector General into whether the USPS is following the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act.

This could mean the sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office, a landmarked building at 2000 Allston Way, could be halted.

According to a spokesperson for Rep. Barbara Lee, who serves on the Appropriations Committee, recommendations do not have an enforcement mechanism, but are “typically followed.” She said that she was checking with the Congressional Research Service to find any examples of recommendations not being followed, but it would be “very rare.” … Continue reading »

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News

Berkeley’s downtown Post Office is listed for sale

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The downtown Berkeley Post Office has officially been put on the market. The landmarked building at 2000 Allston Way, the source of much campaigning to prevent its sale over the past year, has been listed with USPS Properties for Sale.

No price has been listed for the 1914 Renaissance Revival-style building. When Berkeleyside talked to the realtor, CBRE, they said they are not releasing the price. Details on the listing are slim, including only the fact that 48,500 sq. ft of the total 57,200 sq. ft are available.

USPS announced that it intended to sell the building in June 2012 and relocate services to a smaller space in downtown Berkeley. Opposition to the decision has ben voiced by distinct groups at the local, state and federal level. The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to try to stop the sale. A campaigning group, Save the Berkeley Post Office, has organized petitions and community meetings, and been in consultation with groups across the country who are protesting the divestment of post office properties. Protesters pitched tents outside the building for almost almost a month, until the encampment was asked to leave in August. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-Ed: City needs to be creative to ensure good use of post office

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Like many Berkeley residents, I have been following with great interest and concern the fate of our downtown Berkeley Post Office. It is a tragic commentary on the accelerating impoverishment of the public sector in our country that a public building constructed one hundred years ago with public money to serve community needs is likely to be sold to the highest bidder.

Our centrally located downtown post office serves the rapidly increasing numbers of businesses and residents in the downtown, … Continue reading »

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Police

Berkeley post office clean-up was unplanned, say police

Said Twitter user Strike Debt Bay Area: "The Berkeley Post Office Camp has been raided. BPD execute the orders of 1% Privatizers." Photo: Strike Debt Bay Area
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Wednesday night’s clearing of tents and other property belonging to campers at the downtown Berkeley Post Office, who have been on site protesting the building’s sale since late July, was not planned in advance, police said Friday.

“I believe the opportunity presented itself, rather than it being an operation where we pull people in [for extra support],” said Berkeley Police Capt. Andrew Greenwood on Friday.

Supporters who hope to protect the building have been fighting against what they see as a march toward the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service for over a year. In late July, campers set up tents and signs, and began sleeping at the site, to raise awareness about their cause.

Wednesday night, while many of the campers attended an event in Oakland, Berkeley police officers went to the downtown Berkeley Post Office, at 2000 Allston Way, and removed property that had been left on the site.  … Continue reading »

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Accounts clash on reason for post office camp departure

Police spoke with people outside the downtown Berkeley Post Office on Monday evening. Photo: Ted Friedman
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The protesters at the downtown Berkeley Post Office who had been camping on site to fight the proposed sale of the building have left the area, but the official account from police has been disputed by some involved activists.

A statement posted on the Berkeley Post Office Defense website said its encampment was “raided” at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday “by a combination of Postal Police and Berkeley PD (directly subverting the will of the citizens of Berkeley).” According to the statement, a rally was planned for the morning, and a general assembly meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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News

Postal Commission rejects Berkeley mayor’s appeal

Post-office-letter
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Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates’ appeal to block the sale of the city’s downtown Post Office was dismissed Tuesday by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Bates had argued in his appeal that the main post office was wrong to characterize the planned sale of the downtown Berkeley Post Office as a relocation because an alternative location had not been identified, and a sale/lease-back of the building remained an option.

The dismissal, which the Postal Service had said was likely, was made on the grounds that Bates’ appeal was “premature.”

“This process represents the worst case of government bureaucracy that I have experienced in my 35 years of public service,” said Mayor Bates in a statement.  “I believe the Postal Service is simply playing shell games with the community and we are going to continue to fight to preserve this historical site.” … Continue reading »

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Protester at Berkeley post office camp-in stabbed in thigh

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Berkeley police arrested a 50-year old man Thursday who punched and stabbed some of the protesters camped on the steps of the Berkeley Post Office on Allston Way.

Cassius Scott Wilson was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and probation violation, according to Capt. Erik Upson of the Berkeley Police Department. … Continue reading »

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Opinionator

Op-Ed: Turn Berkeley post office into European-style public market

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I live in Dudley, England’s second-largest town and a metropolitan borough, and I think this town has some lessons for Berkeley.

Dudley has 320,000 people and is two hours from London, 15 minutes from Birmingham. Dudley is a conurbation, a series of villages connected by roads dotted with industrial estates. Each village in the conurbation has its own high (or main) street, its own health clinic, its own public market.

The public markets here vary in what they offer. West … Continue reading »

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Government

Feds agree to hear mayor’s plea to halt post office sale

Post-office-letter
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Update, Aug. 15: Berkeleyside received this note from a U.S. Postal Service rep: “I am sending you the following to clarify what may be confusing to your readers. The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has docketed an appeal filed by Tom Bates, Mayor of Berkeley, concerning decisions related to the Berkeley Post Office.  The action in question is a relocation, not a discontinuance, and it is the Postal Service’s view that the PRC’s appeal authority does not extend to this context.  The Postal Service has filed a Motion to Dismiss the appeal and we expect the PRC to rule on this matter in the near term.”

Original story, Aug. 12: A federal commission that oversees the U.S. Postal Service has agreed to hear an appeal by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates to halt the sale of the Berkeley Main Post Office, at 2000 Allston Way.

The five-member Postal Regulatory Commission alerted Bates on Thursday that it would hear the appeal in the fall, the mayor’s office announced Monday. Bates has until Sept. 3 to submit a formal appeal brief, and the commission will have until Nov. 27 to make its final decision. The commission has authority over proposed major service changes related to any post office.

In March, the Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to oppose the sale of the post office, and asked for a one-year moratorium on any decision about its sale. In May, Bates, along with other local and state officials, sent an appeal letter to the postal service. According to Monday’s statement, Bates filed his appeal after a final determination letter dated July 18 from the postal service that stated its plan to forge ahead to relocate services from downtown Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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U.S. Post Office erects fence at Berkeley’s Elmwood site

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Wednesday, workers erected a chain link fence around one side of the parking lot at the Elmwood post office on College Avenue. The move is defensive, according to a spokesman.

We are “enclosing the property for protection,” said Augustine Ruiz, a spokesman from the USPS office in San Jose. “At this point we feel the need to protect our Berkeley properties. As an example, while some of the protesters at the Berkeley Post Office claim to want to preserve the beauty of a Renaissance building, some are allowing it to be defaced, which is rather hypocritical, don’t you think?” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley post office protesters defy order to move

Violence broke out at the protest against the closure of the main post office on Allston Way.  . Photo: Eden Teller
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Participants at the sleep-in to save the Berkeley post office on Allston Way have been asked to move by postal inspectors, but many are staying despite the threat.

Jeff Fitch, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said the organization is “not asking the protesters to leave” but rather asking them to move to the sidewalk, which is public property. The protesters are currently trespassing on federal property by camping out on the post office steps, he said.

“We are all for First Amendment rights,” said Fitch.
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