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Local News

USPS Considers Selling Historic Anacapa Street Post Office in Downtown Santa Barbara

As the country’s mailing, delivery, and correspondence landscape continues to change, the Postal Service doesn't need such a large building to do business

The U.S. Postal Service is considering the sale of the historic Santa Barbara Post Office since the operation no longer needs as much space.
The U.S. Postal Service is considering the sale of the historic Santa Barbara Post Office since the operation no longer needs as much space.  (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

For the vast majority of American history, the post office has been the country’s go-to place for sending mail, delivering packages, and conveying written correspondence.

But with the advent of the Internet, email, and texting, as well as on-the-ground competitors like FedEx and UPS, the operational needs of post offices around the country have contracted, with the amount of space the United States Postal Service requires — and can afford — shrinking as well.

Despite its historic and iconic status in Santa Barbara, the post office at 836 Anacapa St. has not entirely escaped this nationwide trend.

According to Meiko Patton, the USPS’ communications programs specialist for the Sacramento and Sierra Coastal districts, the agency is just beginning to explore selling the two-story, Spanish-colonial-style building, which has become too large for the Post Office’s needs.

Built in the mid-1930s and designed by architect Reginald Johnson, the building has for 31 years been on the federal government’s National Register of Historic Places, an official list of places deemed worthy of preservation.

“Trends in the way customers use the mail have changed, which in turn has given us the opportunity to streamline our processes,” Patton said in an email.

“As you know, the Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund our operations. … That is a major reason why we are exploring this sale.”

Traditionalists need not worry, however, about a complete decoupling between the building and its historic occupiers.

“We would want a leaseback within the building to accommodate the retail operation that we would like to keep in the building,” Patton said. “Such a lease would be negotiated with a buyer when or if the time comes.”

Because of the location’s status as a historic building, the selling process would include discussion about the preservation of the building’s art and architecture, Patton said.

Should the time come to sell, the property will be listed with the USPS’ national real estate services provider, CBRE, she said.

As use of its services declines — 2006 marked the USPS’ peak in mail volume — and operating losses mount, the Postal Service has had to consider and implement new strategies for saving money and avoiding further debt, including contemplating reducing the number of delivery days, reforming employee benefits, and increasing the cost of a postage stamp.

Steps taken by the USPS to sell offices around the country, particularly historic ones, have been met with opposition from both locals and Congress, however.

In 2014, national legislators added language to their omnibus appropriations bill calling for a moratorium on the sale of historic post offices.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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