No one ever said it would be easy: Saving the Venice Post Office

By Jim Smith

In spite of a lawsuit brought by the Coalition to Save the Venice Post Office, the Postal Service has plowed ahead with efforts to sell the historic building and substitute a “hole-in-the-wall” facility in the old Safeway store, now a postal distribution center.

There was a flurry of activity of would-be buyers of the current post office building before the April 23 deadline for bids.

Several Coalition members were courted by the buyers who promised an open lobby so the public could still view the Biberman mural or a basement set aside for community use. In the end the buyers all failed in getting endorsements from the Coalition activists, all of whom are committed to keeping the building as a public post office.

The most visible prospective buyer was Hollywood producer Joel Silver, who arrived to inspect the building in his $400,000 plus Maybach limousine. Silver told us, individually and at a Neighborhood Council meeting, that he wanted to relocate his office to the building, if it were not possible to keep it as a post office.

On April 26 Deadline Hollywood, a blog from Nikki Finke, reported that Silver Pictures and Warner Brothers have broken off their long-time partnership. Silver must vacate his office at Warner Brothers by the end of the year. He must also pay back sizeable loans to Warner Brothers, according to Finke.

Finke muses, “Some might wonder why Joel at age 59 doesn’t take early retirement from the movie biz and go out on top.”

Whether this will have a bearing on Silver’s lust for our Post Office is unknown.

Another bidder, possibly The Ale House on Ocean Front Walk, wants to put in a restaurant and brewery. Jackson Browne, who toured the Post Office, reportedly wants a restaurant. Another group wants to buy the Post Office on speculation that they can sell it later for more money.

Judges and Politicians 

Our lawsuit is still sitting in the in-box of the Third Circuit Court in the District of Columbia. This is not necessarily a bad thing since it keeps the USPS lawyers on their toes. When the judges will decide to hear it is known only to them. There is no timetable to which judges must adhere.

In addition to pursuing legal action, our intrepid save the post office crew have been visiting our lawmakers. Congressmember Janice Hahn didn’t have much clout with the USPS, but she was willing to write letters on our behalf. Then, redistricting put her in a universe far, far away.

Next we went to our U.S. Senators. We actually had meetings with Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer’s designated representatives. They expressed sympathy and said they would see what they could do. So far, it’s been nothing.

Now it’s up to Henry. The man who stopped the “Subway to the Sea” for 20 years, can probably at least get a moratorium on closing the Venice Post Office.

That is, if he wanted to. Unfortunately, Waxman has said he can’t do a thing because it’s still Janice Hahn’s district until the next Representative is seated in January 2013. Meanwhile, Waxman is running to represent us in the next Congress. Am I missing something here?

You can express your views to Waxman at 8436 W. Third Street, #600, L.A. 90048 or 310-652-3095. His official email form will not allow messages from 90291, but you can contact Waxman through his chief of staff, Pat Delgado at <[email protected]>.

While politicians are doing everything they can to avoid taking action, a bill, S1789, has passed the Senate. It might help the Postal Service with its financial problems, but it may do more harm than good.

Meanwhile, the self-appointed Postal slayer, Darrell Issa has a competing bill in the house that would virtually dismantle the USPS. If his bill passes as expected, the House and Senate will get together and come up with a – probably dreadful – compromise. In any case, legislation is unlikely to help us save our post office.

Rallies at the Post Office

Meanwhile, Venetians are proceeding as if their opinions mattered. A third rally was held in front of the Post Office on April 17, Tax Day.

More than 100 letters to our Senators were signed (hope springs eternal). Since there was a big turnout of postal police and LAPD, who lurked a block away, we gave them something to do when rally participants, each bearing a Senator’s letter, crammed themselves into the lobby, causing the specter of a civil disorder. All ended well, except the postal police got a parking ticket on their SUV.

The presence of the postal police is useful, since they have to write a report up the chain of command about all the problems Venetians are causing in defense of their post office.

The Coalition to Save the Post Office is now meeting weekly to plan how to keep the pressure on the Postal Service. If you would like to get involved, please email [email protected] or call 424-246-8676.