Encinitas Advocate News

Owners, USPS aim to keep post office in Cardiff

Cardiff may be getting a new post office — at least that's the goal of the 50-year-old building's new buyer.

The lease for the community's current post office, at 2027 Newcastle Avenue, is expiring in September. John Najjar, co-owner of the nearby Seaside Market, purchased the office, as well as an adjacent older two-story building with dentist and realty offices, to prevent redevelopment from out-of-towners who may not understand Cardiff's character, he said at a community meeting on April 11.

Najjar said the current rent payments of the post office could not cover the purchase price of the building.

"We did not want someone from out of town making decisions for Cardiff," he said. "We want to keep the post office here, and we couldn't have a discussion with the postal people unless somebody owned the property that could actually talk to them."

He said he does not yet know how, when or if the building will be redeveloped. He said an option is if the building does get redeveloped, the post office could be installed there, but the post office would have to find a temporary location in the meantime.

Dean Cameron, real estate specialist with the United States Postal Service (USPS), said USPS rarely opens temporary locations unless it is due to an emergency.

Cameron said USPS is committed to relocating the post office within Cardiff. Anytime the USPS considers relocating a "retail facility" — such as a post office — the public must be able to provide input at a meeting before a decision is made, he explained.

He said he could not completely guarantee the new post office would be in Cardiff but the goal is for it to remain in the community. Certain limitations "out of [their] control," such as not finding a building in time, could prevent the relocation in Cardiff, he said.

"We're committing as close to 100 percent as we can," he said.

USPS is already looking into several options in the community but it's "too early" to mention possible sites, Cameron said.

Several residents at the meeting were concerned that the relocation of the post office might mean Cardiff losing a part of its identity. The current office has long been hailed as a convenient, "intimate" place for neighbors to send and receive mail with minimal waits and friendly service, residents said at the meeting.

Najjar contended he and residents were "in the same boat."

"We don't want to lose our identity, and we don't want to lose our post office," he said. "We've had the discussions to make sure our first and main concern is to keep the post office in Cardiff no matter what. That's the bottom line. He's telling you as much as 100 percent as he can say. I think it's even more."

Nancy Miller, an 18-year resident of Cardiff, said she was grateful for USPS' attempt to keep the post office in the community.

"I'd find it disconcerting for it to be somewhere else," she said.

Other residents encouraged leasing a building in an area away from traffic and with easy-flowing entrances and exits. One woman expressed worry that the 92007 zip code would be eliminated and that PO boxes might change. Cameron said both the zip code and PO box numbers would remain.

Residents have until mid-May to voice their opinions about the post office by writing Cameron at 1300 Evans Avenue, suite 200 in San Francisco.

The USPS expects to select a new site within 45 days, at which point it would have to gain the city council's approval before beginning construction. USPS plans to close the current post office on a Friday and open the new location the following Monday so there would be no lapse in service, Cameron said.

USPS also has post offices in Encinitas and Leucadia.

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