Millions of people throughout the country expect two things from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS): timely mail delivery and consistent access to a post office. But these expectations are becoming harder and harder for the Postal Service to uphold. Over the past year, many of us have dealt with our fair share of frustrating delivery delays. And several communities have also lost access to their local postal facility. Now, the USPS is informing customers of another service suspension. Read on to find out what's closing next week.
The Postal Service leases out some post offices.
Not every post office in the country is directly run by the USPS. Instead, some of these facilities are owned by outside suppliers as Contract Postal Units (CPUs) through contracts with the Postal Service. "These units provide full service retail products and services to postal customers at USPS prices," the agency explains. "They are housed within a supplier facility and are operated and managed by supplier employees."
Contracted post offices can be essential for certain communities that may need "additional Postal Service access points" in their area, according to the USPS. But the stability of CPUs has been a point of concern for years.
Steve Hutkins, PhD, a retired English professor from New York and creator of SavethePostOffice.com, reported in 2012 that the number of CPUs have been steadily declining for some time as a result of contract post offices closing at a faster rate than they're opening. CPUs also often closed with little to no public notice, according to Hutkins.
Now, another community is dealing with a sudden closure.
The agency is gearing up to close another contracted facility.
In a Nov. 22 news release, the Postal Service revealed that the Mount Mesa Post Office in Lake Isabella, California, will close soon.
According to the announcement, this post office is a CPU, and the current provider of the Mount Mesa facility has "decided to terminate" its contract with the USPS. "The Postal Service is actively in the process of outreach in the local community for a new provider," the agency said.
The USPS is temporarily relocating services for local customers
While the Postal Service works to find a new provider for the Mount Mesa Contract Station, customers will have an alternative option for service. Effective Nov. 30, all retail and PO Box services provided at the Mount Mesa facility "will be temporarily relocated" to the nearby Lake Isabella Post Office, according to the USPS.
"PO Box customers normally served by the Mount Mesa Contract Station will have no interruption in service and mail will be available at the Lake Isabella Post Office, Dec. 1, 2022," the agency explained in its news release. "New keys will be issued to existing PO Box holders for the new location. Customers are asked to present photo ID for mail pick-up."
This is not the only contracted post office closing soon.
The Mount Mesa Post Office might be the most recently revealed CPU closure, but it's hardly the only one of these facilities on the chopping block. At least two contracted post offices are set to close early next year as well. The Postal Service confirmed on Nov. 15 that the post office in Mountlake Terrace, Washington, will be permanently shuttered in 2023, MLTnews reported.
"The owner of the property where the Mountlake Terrace Post Office is located is not interested in renewing the lease," USPS spokesperson Ernie Swanson told MLTnews back in March. According to Swanson, the current lease is up on Jan. 31, and the post office will have to move out by the beginning of Feb. 2023.
Following that, the post office in Big Sky, Montana, will also shut down. On Nov. 7, the USPS announced that the current provider of this facility has decided to terminate is contract with the Postal Service. CBS-affiliate KBZK in Bozeman, Montana reported that the agency had been battling over facility size with the provider, real estate firm Gallatin Partners.
"In the case of this leased facility, the lessor has chosen not to renew the lease … we will be forced to close this CPU," the USPS said in its news release, adding that it will suspend services at the facility starting Feb. 28. "As a convenience to its customers, the Postal Service offers CPUs around the nation, such as the one located in Big Sky, MT. The Postal Service conducts regular discussions with contractors regarding service and terms."