Coming to a post office near you: No post office near you.
The press release, which some might describe as a masterpiece of obfuscation, others as merely looking on the bright side, is titled "Postal Service Takes Next Step in Optimizing Retail Network." It reads:
The U.S. Postal Service announced today that it will be taking the next step in right-sizing its expansive retail network by conducting studies of approximately 3,700 retail offices to determine customer needs. As part of this effort, the Postal Service also introduced a retail-replacement option for affected communities around the nation.
That "retail-replacement option" is a reference to what the USPS is calling the "Village Post Office."
"In order to keep a postal presence, we're suggesting that local businesses, grocery stories, banks... could possibly run a village post office," USPS San Francisco spokesman James Wigdel told me today. "They would not be post-office employees, but the business would actually run them, and they'd sell limited postal products such as stamps and priority flat-rate boxes."
Wigdel said factors that would be taken into account when considering which branches to close include proximity to other post offices, the availability nearby of similar services and products, and usage of the facility.
The process is now in what he called the "pre-proposal stage."
"If the post office goes forward with the process, it would take about four-and-a-half months to complete. That's because we like to involve the community. We'll be holding public meetings and distributing questionnaires to customers in the affected communities." Meetings have yet to be scheduled, he said.
As to the replacement "Village Post Offices," Wigdel said such a service offered by local businesses could increase foot traffic.
Wigdel said no layoffs are being planned, and that the agency would try to place affected employees in nearby USPS locations.
He said the USPS has downsized 100,000 employes in the last few years, all through attrition.
For a list of all the post office outlets in California under consideration for the axe, here's the agency's "Expanded Access Study List -- California," the title of which would seem to indicate the exact opposite of shutting something down, but you know, just go with it...
Bay Area locations on the list, followed by a Google map:
Civic Center PO Box Unit 94102
Federal Building 94102
McLaren Station 94134
Visitacion Station 94134
Byron Rumford 94612
Daily City 94014
South San Francisco
Veteran's Home 94599
San Gregorio 94074
Loma Mar 94021
View California Post Offices Facing Closure in a larger map