News


More than 80 mailboxes to be removed across Palo Alto

Changes to come throughout neighborhoods after the Christmas holiday

Citing a decrease in mail volume, the U.S. Postal Service will remove 81 mailboxes from Palo Alto neighborhood corners after the Christmas holiday, a postal service spokesman said.

The box removals, which will reduce the number of collection boxes from 193 to 112 throughout Palo Alto, were set for Monday, Dec. 7, but USPS will keep them in place until after the holidays for customers' convenience, postal service spokesman Augustine Ruiz said. Each box to be removed after the holidays now has a notice saying it will be taken out and the location of the nearest remaining box.

Residents in Barron Park and Old Palo Alto were the first to notice messages pasted on the boxes, which indicated that because of a severe decline in single-piece, first-class letter mail, the boxes would be removed. The paring down is happening across the country, Ruiz said.

"The daily threshold is 25 or more pieces per box. All of the boxes scheduled for removal have shown fewer than 25 pieces, and many with just a couple of pieces in them. The density checks were done in September to October 2015," he said.

Most people deposit their mail in the "snorkel" boxes outside the post office either on the way to work or after, he said. Those boxes are always full and are collected more frequently by mail staff, he added.

The postal service has had to shift its strategy since the advent of online sales. The postal service was, at its peak, at 213 billion pieces of mail nationally in 2006, Ruiz said.

"We have lost 26 percent, or 55 billion pieces, since then," he said. "The most visible culprit is the Internet, and of course the severe 2008 recession, where companies cut back on their mailings and migrated to online business transactions, especially in the business-to-business, first-class category.

"However, while the Internet has caused us to lose significant volume, we have seen a double-digit increase in packages. So letter-class mail has been replaced by parcel and package deliveries, all driven by the increase in online shopping," he added.

The parcels are larger and take up more cubic capacity, which requires an investment in new technology, such as automated package-processing systems and small-parcel sorting systems, in which the postal service has heavily invested in, Ruiz said.

"It is safe to say that the future trend will be in parcels because people will continue to shop online and they need a trusted courier to deliver it, and who better to choose than an agency that has been moving the mail for 240 years? So, until someone invents a way to email a sweater, we'll deliver it," he said.

Comments

15 people like this
Posted by not happy about it
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 7, 2015 at 3:20 pm

All 3 of the mailboxes in our neighborhood (Evergreen Box) are slated for removal. My guess is that if only 2 were removed, the other would get significant use. I regularly use all 3, depending on my bike or walking route. In the meantime, I'm sure that they are not getting much use as the notes do not indicate that mail is still being picked up from the boxes and their is no answer at the number posted.


30 people like this
Posted by not happy about it
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 7, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Sorry–lots of typos in my last post. Meant to say: All 3 of the mailboxes in our neighborhood (Evergreen Park) are slated for removal. My guess is that if only 2 were removed, the remaining one would get significant use. I regularly use all 3, depending on my bike or walking route. In the meantime, I'm sure that they are not getting much use as the notes do not indicate that mail is still being picked up from the boxes and there is no answer at the number posted.


19 people like this
Posted by Jon
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 7, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Is there a listing somewhere of all the mailboxes that are going to be removed?


3 people like this
Posted by Bike Commuter
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 7, 2015 at 6:27 pm

Not sure if their Mailbox map shows all existing or only those to remain:
Web Link#


28 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 7, 2015 at 6:52 pm

Cutting off customer access is a proven strategy for killing a business.


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 7, 2015 at 8:20 pm

Interesting map, @Bike Commuter. I hadn't seen it before. No info on who wrote it or what database is used. Several USPS collection boxes are missing, e.g. by Wells Fargo at Cal Av & ECR, between Philz and Bills on Middlefield, and Goodwill corner West Meadow at El Camino Way. Looks like any user can add a location, so maybe this is just crowd-sourced.


Like this comment
Posted by to musical and bike commuter
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 7, 2015 at 8:31 pm

Thanks, Bike Commuter. This map seems to show only the mailboxes that are slated to remain. FYI the box for stamped mail in front of Wells Fargo on Cal Ave is slated for removal.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 7, 2015 at 8:59 pm

Thanks. I noticed the one at Bills was marked for removal, but haven't visited the others lately. USPS.com has a "Find Location" search-tool that maps many more mailboxes; still shows those slated for removal.


5 people like this
Posted by Customer
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Dec 7, 2015 at 10:59 pm

An anecdote: I've had the best service with the USPS for parcels. Back in the day, FedEx was the way to go, but they have failed me twice now. They used to have top customer service but now the employee quality is pathetic. I spent one hour regarding getting a package mailed (from misinformation about pick-up times, promised return calls which didn't occur, you-name-it, an epic fail). And then it was stopped at a FedEx location. Despite my efforts, it was never delivered. USPS is the way to go now - their rates are even cheaper than both UPS and FedEx. If you send a Priority Mail box (free boxes available at Post Office), it's a set price, no weight involved in the price. Perfect for mailing to my college son!


58 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2015 at 5:31 am

This is baloney. I'm a carrier, there is absolutely no reason that these boxes cannot be emptied by the carrier whose route is in the area. There is no extra cost to USPS to have these boxes available.


14 people like this
Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2015 at 9:34 am

I wrote a letter to the person whose name is on the posted notice on our box at Waverley and Seale, protesting this change. Calling the number listed was futile. The notice listed the next "closest" box as in the 2600 block of Middlefield, across Oregon and on a busy street. This does not seem to be good customer service, at least not to me.


3 people like this
Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2015 at 9:36 am

p.s. In response to Paul's comment, I asked a carrier and was told the staff who pick up mail from these neighborhood boxes are a different crew from the carriers. But it is a good question to ask why this is or must be the case?


Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

on Dec 8, 2015 at 10:05 am


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2 people like this
Posted by Berry
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 8, 2015 at 10:58 am

I would pay up to $50 per box. Is there a way I can purchase a removed box?


6 people like this
Posted by Mr. Mailman
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2015 at 10:59 am

Boxes scheduled to be picked up in late afternoon are often collected by employees other than the Carrier for that route. We have numerous "Collectors" out to pick up the 5, 5:15, 5:30, etc. boxes and businesses that request late pickups.

The Carrier will gladly pick up mail right from your mailbox, although the red flags of yesterday are mostly gone from residential mailboxes. Not everyone has a good way to indicate to the Carrier that there is outgoing mail in their mailbox.

And of course, Security is a major issue nowadays. Picking up/dropping off at home mailboxes is often not as secure as it could be. The blue boxes provide a more secure drop off place in that regard.

As a final point, those blue boxes are expensive to maintain. They rust, fill with water and snow, end up with angry cats inside of them, and get hit by cars more often than you'd think. If we spent only $10/year on each of those 80 boxes it'd be $800 per year, and just painting one costs over $500 (pull, sandblast, prime/paint, redecal, replace).


9 people like this
Posted by Sally Bentz
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 8, 2015 at 11:09 am

I don't know why all of the mailboxes in Barron Park are going. If they kept one or two in the neighborhood they would get more mail. They are keeping one or two on El Camino which has high traffic and is a very dangerous place to keep them.

Please consider keeping one or two within the neighborhood.

Thank You


5 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2015 at 11:57 am

I haven't been able to find a box since they removed the one at the old Alma Plaza and didn't bother to restore it when "Alma Village" was built.

With every since post office north of Oregon Expressway, it behooves them to provide some service for the south end of town.

It's ridiculous how poorly the south end of Palo Alto is served (in many respects). It's not like it's the slums with current housing and rental prices!


34 people like this
Posted by Another sad step
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm

So much for accessibility of local services. I hate what the internet is doing to our communities. Neighborhood stores close. Post boxes removed. People scream in uncivil tones at each other online rather than attending local meetings and listening to each other face to face, working to find consensus around solutions. I don't want to sit at a computer all day. I want to live IN THE ACTUAL (not virtual) WORLD with other actual people.

People spend so much time pecking mindlessly at their phones for the most inane purposes. They never seem to look up and notice they are missing a lot.

Please leave at least one box in each neighborhood for now. You can always remove more later. I guess I'll have to drive to the post office to drop my Christmas cards rather than walk to the box this year.


2 people like this
Posted by Julie
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2015 at 2:22 pm

I do not use the neighborhood collection boxes because in my neighborhood they have been broken into and vandalized. Also, the mail boxes are now old, dilapidated, and very shabby, they need removing. If I need to mail a card I'll take it to a post office or a box by a grocery store. Just take them away, they are blight on our neighborhoods.


3 people like this
Posted by Eli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 8, 2015 at 4:13 pm

That map is incorrect. Best is to ignore it. I checked along Bryant: the mailbox that is supposedly OK at the corner of Bryant and Coleridge has a termination letter while a mailbox not appearing on the map at Bryant and Homer doesn't have that warning.


27 people like this
Posted by john
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2015 at 6:24 pm

the post about what it costs to maintain the blue boxes is ridiculous. I am a letter carrier with 2 collection boxes on my route that I empty each day. I have been on route for 15 years. They never filled with water, I never had an angry cat in them and the rust is minimal considering they have been in place for many years before I got here. The reasons mgt removes boxes is to make it more difficult for customers to have access and to cut down on the time it takes for a union employee to empty them. Postal mgt today specializes in pissing customers off and bullying employees. They do not believe in customer service anymore.


7 people like this
Posted by mailer
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 8, 2015 at 11:23 pm

I use one of those boxes marked for removal in our neighborhood. I am sad that the post office wants to remove it. Emptying a box does not take much time. Why not empty the box when you are delivering mail in the neighborhood.


Like this comment
Posted by Mimi Wolf
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2015 at 12:27 pm

More reason to start your engine and drive to the post office.
God bless America
Save Mother Earth? whaaa?


5 people like this
Posted by Anciana
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 9, 2015 at 1:51 pm

I've been very upset, seeing the messages taped to our neighborhood corner mail boxes. There won't be one left in my neighborhood, and what they call the nearest equivalent is more than a mile away, across Oregon Avenue. Not exactly walking distance. I've called the number on those notices at least ten times -- no one every answers. I went in person to the post office and complained. The woman there gave me a number to call, but no one ever answered. This is very frustrating. There should be at least one within walking distance. I've talked to two mailmen on their rounds, and they both asked me to complain to Anna Eshoo, which I have done. The mailmen do not want the boxes removed! Whose great idea was that????


Like this comment
Posted by Shana
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2015 at 3:42 pm

I live in a city of 18,000 just outside the Bay Area. The PO here has cut back the number of neighborhood and business-area mail collection boxes away from the post office to two. And those two are close together. The earlier writer was correct in saying that boxes could be put out in the neighborhoods or next to big-box stores for the daily letter carrier to pick up during their rounds, at no extra cost.


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