Tag Archives: Berkeley Post Office

With Berkeley set to change civic center zoning, US Postal Service ponders lawsuit

The Berkeley City Council is poised to set up new zoning standards in Civic Center. Image: City of Berkeley
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The U.S. Postal Service is pushing back against a city proposal to limit development at its downtown Berkeley post office property, which has been up for sale since 2012.

Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is slated to approve that proposal, to establish more restrictive development standards in Berkeley’s civic center on nine parcels, including the post office property at Allston Way and Milvia Street.

An attorney for the post office, R. Clark Morrison, has sent five letters to the city since January in opposition to the plan, decrying it as spot zoning, and saying the city’s decision not to pursue a full environmental review in connection with the plan is at odds with its own code and the law. On Monday, Morrison declined to comment on the matter, but one city staffer familiar with the issue said the USPS is likely to sue the city if council approves the zoning changes.

Postal Service spokesman Augustine Ruiz Jr. said via email Monday that “The Postal Service is evaluating all options with respect to the actions taken by the City of Berkeley, including evaluating the possibility of litigation.” … Continue reading »

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Ralph Nader speaks at rally to save Berkeley post office

Ralph Nader spoke out against the planned sale of the Main Post Office on Allston Way at a rally on July 29. Photo: Charles Siler
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Longtime political activist Ralph Nader spoke Tuesday afternoon at a demonstration at the downtown Berkeley post office on Allston Way in support of the on-going fight to stop the U.S. Postal Service from selling the 1914 building.

“This is not just a matter of stamps or delivery on Saturdays, important as that is,” Nader said to the crowd. “This is a fundamental institution that binds the country together.” … Continue reading »

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Satellite post office at Berkeley Staples draws protests

Anti-Staples postcard made by Berkeley Post Office Defense
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For the last 19 nights, Mike Zint, 47, has been sleeping sitting up in a chair in front of the Staples store at 2352 Shattuck Ave. He has set up vigil in downtown Berkeley to protest the “privatization” of the U.S. Postal Service, as well as chronic homelessness in the United States.

Zint is part of a small group of homeless activists that has established a camp of sorts on the sidewalk. During the day, they pass out leaflets protesting the seven-month-old deal allowing Staples to run satellite postal operations in 82 stores across the country, including the one in Berkeley. They have a table piled with leaflets talking about the deal, as well as information about the U.S. Post Office’s plan to sell the Main Post office on Allston Way. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley mayor to push for civic center overlay, also hopes it will reduce support for downtown ‘green’ initiative

Bates wants the city council to adopt a zoning overlay to protect historic buildings in the civic center area, like Veterans' Memorial Hall. He admits he hopes the push will undermine support for a Downtown Green Initiative scheduled for November ballot. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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Mayor Tom Bates has decided to push for a civic center overlay that will protect the Main Post Office, and admits he hopes his support will undermine the downtown zoning initiative scheduled for the November ballot.

Bates wants Berkeley to adopt the exact language of the initiative, which was put forward by City Councilman Jesse Arreguín, in part because of Arreguín’s frustration that council had not adopted the overlay previously. Arreguín first introduced the overlay idea in July 2013. Council sent the item to the city Planning Commission for review and, after discussing it at a September meeting, referred it back to city staff.

Bates now wants council to discuss the overlay at its June 24 meeting, and to consider an ordinance at its Sept. 9 meeting. Bates will suggest that timeline at an Agenda Committee meeting today (Item 21).

“There is general agreement on the council that we would like to save the Post Office, and this is a good way to do it,” said Bates. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Beware deceptive ‘Save Post Office’ ballot petition

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Don’t be deceived. Backers of a proposed measure for the Berkeley ballot in November are circulating voter-signature petitions under the guise of “saving the Post Office.” But the main thrust of the measure is to impose prohibitively restrictive fees and requirements on new projects in Berkeley’s core downtown. It would not guarantee that the Post Office would continue operating.

The result would be a devastating blow to our acclaimed Downtown Area Plan. This successful plan was formulated through extensive public … Continue reading »

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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 spokeswoman for Rep. Barbara Lee, who serves on the Appropriations Committee, recommendations do not have an enforcement mechanism, but are “typically followed.” She said 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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