By Leon Worden and Carol Rock
The U.S. Postal Service held a public meeting last night in Bakersfield to discuss the prospective closure of Bakersfield’s mail processing facility. This move would have an impact on our community because the workload – as well as some of the jobs – would shift to the Santa Clarita processing facility on Franklin Parkway in the Valencia Commerce Center.
The move would save the nearly bankrupt Postal Service an estimated $10 million – including a $5 million savings through the layoffs of 136 employees (128 postal workers and eight supervisors) at the Bakersfield facility. It would save $1 million annually on transportation and roughly $4 million on maintenance costs.
The plan would result in two-day delivery for most first-class mail – and potentially three days for Bakersfield mail – instead of the historic one-day turnaround, in part because mail sorting hours would shift. Rather than sorting mail from midnight to 6 a.m. presently, sorting of the increased volume of mail would be done from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m.
Whether the increased volumes would result in 3-day delivery to Santa Clarita addresses is not yet known.
Bakersfield would still have its own postmark for stamped first-class mail brought to a local post office in that city.
The Bakersfield Californian reported that City Councilman Russell Johnson was concerned about delays due to inclement weather.
“Bakersfield is not a small city,” he said. “If you move it to Santa Clarita and we have a bad snowstorm and it closes the Grapevine, you’re going to be delaying postal delivery even more.”
The proposed consolidation is part of a broader plan to cut expenses by $3 billion immediately and $20 billion by 2015 through the closure of 252 of the post office’s 487 processing facilities and the elimination of 35,000 of its 559,000 jobs.
Thanks to e-mail and competing letter and parcel delivery services, demand for USPS mail service peaked in 2006 and has declined since that time. Since 2006 the Post Office has eliminated 110,000 jobs through attrition and closed 186 processing facilities for a $12 billion annual savings.
Of the 252 facilities currently targeted for closure, 15 are in California. They include Bakersfield, Burlingame, Eureka, Industry, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Modesto, Pasadena, two in Petaluma, Redding, San Bernardino, San Diego, Stockton and Van Nuys.
The Postal Service is accepting public comment on the possible closure until January 12. Comments on the plan should be sent to: Manager, Consumer and Industry Contact / Sierra Coastal District, 28201 Franklin Pkwy Room 210, Santa Clarita, CA 91383-9682.