‘P’ is for ‘E’ and ‘P’ is for ‘Problem’ at RBPO
by Rachel Reeves
A change in the Redondo Beach Post office address system that resulted in Avenue E being renamed Avenue P led to an angry discussion between a postal official and the Redondo Beach Council at Tuesday’s city council meeting.
The one thing both sides did agree on is there is no Avenue P in Redondo Beach.
“I don’t know what happened. We don’t have the power to change a street name,” local postal operations manager Ernesto Rodriquez told the council.
“It’s quite unusual. We’ve never heard of this before,” said Janet Turner, field supervisor at the Office of Congressman Ted Lieu,Turner.
“P for problem,” Mayor Bill Brand said. “It doesn’t sound like anybody knows what caused this, which is kind of scary, but it’s causing great havoc for the people who are experiencing it. We have to get that fixed now.”
Resident Ellen Margetich wrote in a letter to the council: “Our banks, utilities, department stores, etc. have changed our mailing addresses from Avenue E to Avenue P. Residents can no longer order merchandise or their prescriptions for home delivery. Residents can no longer place a vacation hold on their mail because Avenue E, Redondo Beach, no longer exists in the USPS systems master address file. Neighbors are experiencing [delays] in trying to refinance their property because lenders cannot easily verify Avenue E in Redondo Beach as a correct address. Equifax and other credit agencies have changed Avenue E addresses in their systems to Avenue P. Residents of Avenue E now have no assurance that important documents such as Form 1099s, bank statements, income tax refunds, stimulus checks that they usually receive [by] mail will reach them.”
The issue, which was left unresolved, was part of a lengthy discussion Tuesday night over Zoom, about postal service in Redondo Beach.
Councilmember Todd Loewenstein said he was frustrated because some of the issues slated for discussion first arose four years ago.
“We have great things in our town,” Loewenstein said. “But one of the things we’re notorious for is having very bad mail service. This is legacy stuff. … It’s been happening for years.”
Councilmember Laura Emdee added that people depend on the mail service for medications, contracts, and other important documents, making quality service a vital part of a thriving city.
“Forty-five minutes standing in line at the post office isn’t cutting it,” she said.
Residents had written letters to the council, and some phoned in during the meeting, to share their complaints. Resident Stephen Treisman said he had become aware his mail carrier wasn’t permanently assigned to the route that serves his home. Richard Scholtz wrote that sometimes his mail is delayed by five days, and often it’s delivered as late as 9:30 p.m. Resident Lezlie Campeggi wrote in a letter to the council that “these are not new problems due to the pandemic,” but that the pandemic “made the poor service worse.” Emdee said her constituents “didn’t want their carrier to get in trouble,” but were concerned about the late nights and believed there aren’t enough carriers to fill in when someone gets sick or takes vacation time.
Post Office manager Rodriguez acknowledged during the virtual meeting that the combination of peak [holiday] season and the novel coronavirus (and attendant increase in package deliveries) created “some issues.”
“We saw a drastic increase in parcels,” he said. “Parcels take a lot more time to deliver than a letter or a flat. We went from averaging 50 per route to 275 parcels a route. That had the carrier loading his vehicle a little bit longer, being on the street a little bit longer, and then taking a little bit longer to deliver those routes.”
He said that in order to deal with this challenge, a route was created specifically for parcels, which begins earlier than others. He also said the post office will be assigning a lobby director to reduce wait times at the office and will be initiating audits into its service.
Rodriguez explained that while the offices are no longer short-staffed, as they were during the height of the pandemic, Redondo Beach will still be getting two additional employees. He added that he doesn’t have the authority to create new positions without permission from Congress.
“I don’t buy that,” Emdee said, adding that she understood the process but believes persistence effects change. “We need to be on top of this to make that happen.”
Councilmember Nils Nehrenheim raised the issue of the maintenance of the grounds at the Catalina Ave. facility, which he said “looks atrocious.”
“Do you guys not take pride in your facilities?” he asked. He continued: “Blight is a big deal in Redondo Beach. Our residents pay a lot to be here. We have a lot of pride in this city.”
Rodriguez said he would look into it, and resolve the grounds maintenance matter within two weeks.
Turner told the council that Congressman Lieu’s office has a formal process for addressing complaints about postal mail service. She gave her email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and her office’s number (323-651-1040). She also said Congress is working on a new bill to properly address service issues.
“They’re being very quiet at the moment about what the specifics are because it’s in a negotiation process,” she said, “but I wanted to assure you that the Congressman supports more funding, faster delivery, better healthcare and benefits for postal workers, and greater accountability to the board of governors of USPS.”
She added that the Postal Service has been able to hire more employees since the federal government recently forgave a $10 billion loan extended as part of a COVID relief package.
Emdee expressed the city’s gratitude for mail carriers and the Postal Service.
“We love you guys, we need you guys, we depend on you, and we need you to step up and do better,” she said.
Residents who want to register complaints about misdeliveries, or mail going to the wrong house, can call (800) 275-8777. To report mail theft, call (323) 651-1040. ER
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