Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 7:53 pm | Fair 52º


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.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >