Postal closure

Obscure Napa State post office closing

2013-01-02T17:38:00Z 2013-01-03T21:44:19Z Obscure Napa State post office closingHOWARD YUNE Napa Valley Register
January 02, 2013 5:38 pm  • 

The stucco-sided, brown-roofed building looks little different from the surrounding structures at Napa State Hospital. Out of view of most Napans, however, a post office operates inside, serving not only hospital staff but south side residents — but not for much longer.

While customers at Napa’s two larger post offices cope with parking shortages, the branch on Napa State’s west side remains a quieter option with no shortage of vehicle space outside. That option, though, is scheduled to vanish on Feb. 28, when the branch’s contract with the U.S. Postal Service expires.

Wendy Rodden, who has held the postal contract for the Napa State outlet since 1999, said the agency’s Oakland office notified her in early November it would end the contract. She cited falling revenue over the past five years.

“I think it’s mostly because of the Internet — how you can pay bills online, and how online (retail) has really taken away from the post office,” she said last week at her service desk. “You barely see a first-class letter come through here anymore. Even pictures, those mostly go through Instagram now.”

Open only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, it is hardly the hive of activity that the Postal Service’s Trancas Street and Second Street branches can become. But Rodden said the office’s demise still would be a loss to south-side Napans, especially those unwilling to fight for parking outside the downtown branch or at a Trancas Street outlet that has lost most of its parking spaces to a neighboring Jack in the Box restaurant.

Those with the most to lose when Napa State’s branch shuts down include not only hospital employees, but outsiders who have relied on its nearness the longest, she predicted.

It’s a shame to see the people around the hospital lose the outlet, she said after tending to five customers in five minutes.  “There are doctors who don’t like to get their mail at home for safety reasons. And there’s people who’ve had P.O. boxes 40, 50 years, and they’re elderly now and it frightens them to see this go.”

Among those hoping for the Napa State branch’s last-minute reprieve is Myrna Baldwin, who has lived in Napa for 33 of the past 40 years. She praised the post office’s quietness and easy parking amid drivers’ difficulties at the city’s other outlets, but said the facility’s existence was a secret to many. She had been unaware of the site until returning to Napa a decade and a half ago.

“If more people knew about it ...” Baldwin said Friday, leaving the what-if implied. “People I talk to say, ‘You mean there’s a post office in south Napa?’ They absolutely don’t have a clue there’s a post office there.”

Postal branches like Napa State’s that are run by contractors, rather than directly by the Postal Service, are considered for closure on a case-by-case basis and are not shut down in groups, according to Augustine Ruiz, spokesman for the agency’s Bay-Valley District in San Jose. Ruiz said shuttering a contract-based post office is exempt from the public input requirements for eliminating a conventional branch.

Two other Napa County post offices have avoided the budget ax as the Postal Service has pondered what to do to deal with multimillion-dollar losses in the past decade, as email and social media have dramatically shrunk the volume of traditional first-class mail.

Post offices at Yountville’s Veterans Home of California and in Oakville were on a list of about 3,700 outlets the agency proposed to wind down because of low revenues. However, public opposition led it to remove the Veterans Home branch from the closure list in March, and the Postal Service in May suspended a plan to start closing other rural post offices, choosing instead to reduce hours at up to 13,000 branches pending reviews.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. 356met25
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    356met25 - January 02, 2013 7:56 pm
    The article states multimillion dollar losses in the past decade. Try again...its multibillion dollar losses every year.
  2. thinkingoutloud
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    thinkingoutloud - January 03, 2013 11:09 am
    Karma eventually finds everyone
  3. ketama
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    ketama - January 03, 2013 12:54 pm
    Went there for the first time today . . . so easy and convenient with ZERO parking issues.
    Napa Register, it would have been good to remind people that this is an excellent alternative, especially now that Jack %&&$# took all the parking.

    As for losses, please educate yourselves:-

    1. The USPS is not technically “broke” — yet.

    Operationally speaking, the USPS nets profits every year. The financial problem it faces now comes from a 2006 Congressional mandate that requires the agency to “pre-pay” into a fund that covers health care costs for future retired employees. Under the mandate, the USPS is required to make an annual $5.5 billion payment over ten years, through 2016. These “prepayments” are largely responsible for the USPS’s financial losses over the past four years and the threat of shutdown that looms ahead – take the retirement fund out of the equation, and the postal service would have actually netted $1 billion in profits over this period.

    This doesn’t mean, however, that
  4. ketama
    Report Abuse
    ketama - January 03, 2013 1:20 pm
    1. The USPS is not technically “broke” — yet.

    Operationally speaking, the USPS nets profits every year. The financial problem it faces now comes from a 2006 Congressional mandate that requires the agency to “pre-pay” into a fund that covers health care costs for future retired employees. Under the mandate, the USPS is required to make an annual $5.5 billion payment over ten years, through 2016. These “prepayments” are largely responsible for the USPS’s financial losses over the past four years and the threat of shutdown that looms ahead – take the retirement fund out of the equation, and the postal service would have actually netted $1 billion in profits over this period.

    This doesn’t mean, however, that the USPS’s financial situation is good. Revenue has been declining for years, and even if the agency manages to get past this year’s $5.5 billion payment, it would again face insolvency next year.

    2. The postal service doesn’t rely on taxpayer funds.

    Until 1971, mail delivery was
  5. blogit
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    blogit - January 04, 2013 8:11 am
    There were zero parking issues because nobody uses that facility hence the closure. I think that in our economic times it is ridiculous to keep a non profiting government office open to convenience a very limited number of Napa citizens, primarily the employees of NSH. The Yountville office was a much different circumstance, that office provided service to elderly vets that are many times disabled and unable to come into town, and Yountville is several miles for city limits. This office is in City of Napa limits and less than ten minutes from the downtown office...this should be a no brainer, close it and move on!!!
  6. glenroy
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    glenroy - January 04, 2013 9:29 am
    That and paying a few thousand of employees to stay home....the current contract for carriers, in all but a couple areas, does not allow ANY reduction in staff once hired. The only stipulation is they can't have another job...lovely arrangement....sleep til noon make a hundred grand...

    FDR's greatest expressed thought was to never allow public employees the right to strike, ever.
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