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Public Meeting on Future of Berkeley Post Office

Battling a loss of revenue, the U.S. Postal Service will host a public meeting tonight, Tuesday, at the Berkeley City Council chambers on reuse of the main Berkeley Post Office. A council subcommittee voted against a sale.

The U.S. Postal Service will host a public meeting tonight, Feb. 26, on its proposed sale of the main Berkeley Post Office, a historic century-old building that occupies a prominent place in the city's downtown.

The meeting, from 7-8:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., is intended to provide information about the Postal Service's plans, to receive public comment and answer questions from the public, said Postal Service spokesman Gus Ruiz.

The proposed sale has stirred considerable community opposition. A four-member City Council subcommittee on the Post Office is recommending that the full council at its meeting next week adopt a resolution opposing the sale and calling on the Postal Service to maintain operations in the building.

The resolution also "reminds the USPS of the constitutional requirement to provide postal services to the public," calls on the agency to impose a moratorium on the sale of other post offices nationwide and commits the city to "reach out to other cities affected by the sale of postal facilities to develop a collective response."

The resolution also observes that the neo-classical building is a city landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A Postal Service notice about tonight's meeting says the agency "is in a very serious financial situation and facing insolvency." It has endured a 26-percent drop in total mail volume over the past three years, the notice says.

The proposed City Council resolution and the Postal Service notice are attached in a single document to this article.

The Postal Service says a number of its grand buildings that have been sold are now being put to productive use as museums, offices, court houses and combined commercial structures.

The Berkeley Historical Society is among the local groups opposed to the sale, saying the iconic building, which turns 100 next year, is the second oldest of the city's core distinguished public buildings, after the old City Hall. 

Berkeley Congresswoman Barbara Lee also has written in opposition to the sale and cutbacks in postal services.

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