Post Office to review mailbox removals in Palo Alto | News | Palo Alto Online |


Post Office to review mailbox removals in Palo Alto

Some receptacles could be relocated in 2016

Plans to remove more than 80 mailboxes in Palo Alto are temporarily on hold until at least after the first of the year, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman said on Friday, Dec. 11.

USPS had posted notices on the collection boxes throughout Palo Alto neighborhoods on Nov. 7, writing that the receptacles would be removed by or after Dec. 7 due to a decrease in mail volume. But as the deadline loomed, the postal service revised its removal schedule to after the Christmas holidays to accommodate customers' needs.

Postal service spokesman Augustine Ruiz said the mailboxes slated for removal are taking in fewer than 25 pieces of mail daily, which is the criteria the post office uses for removing a mailbox.

But many residents lamented the loss on Palo Alto Online's Town Square and neighborhood email lists. Some residents have tried to contact the post office and wrote to ask USPS to reconsider, they said.

"I've been very upset, seeing the messages taped to our neighborhood corner mail boxes," a Palo Alto Hills reader wrote. "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."

Another said, "All three of the mailboxes in our neighborhood (Evergreen Park) are slated for removal. My guess is that if only two were removed, the remaining one would get significant use. I regularly use all three, depending on my bike or walking route."

"Please leave at least one box in each neighborhood for now. You can always remove more later," added a Greenmeadow resident.

Ruiz said Friday that the posting of the removal notices was premature.

"To ensure our customers have use of the boxes during our busiest time of the year and beyond, we will review the need to re-position the boxes to other locations after the first of the year," he wrote in an email to the Weekly. "At this time we will be pulling all the notices currently on all the boxes that were scheduled for removal. No collection boxes will be removed at this time."

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28 people like this
Posted by Thank you
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 12, 2015 at 1:47 pm

Thank you so much, USPS. I am very happy that you are considering maintaining access to at least some of these convenient neighborhood mailboxes. I particularly appreciate having these boxes at night when the area around the post office is isolated and seems less safe.

23 people like this
Posted by Nancy Jo
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 12, 2015 at 3:51 pm

In my Barron Park neighborhood, all or most mailboxes were scheduled to be removed, leaving the one on El Camino. A lot of seniors, including me, would have a difficult time a) finding parking next to the mailbox, and b) dodging traffic as we step into the street and dodder slowly around our cars to the sidewalk. It would be dangerous! I have only a slot on my garage door for mail delivery (with no red flag for pick up), and I would resent having to drive to the nearest mailbox to mail things. The other alternative left us would be the box in the parking lot of a small shopping complex at the corner of El Camino and Los Robles Ave. There we currently need to find a parking slot or else park close to the mailbox, blocking the lot’s traffic. There needs to be more convenient neighborhood mailboxes. Hopefully the Post Office will leave some existing mailboxes here.

1 person likes this
Posted by Old PA Dan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 12, 2015 at 4:57 pm

I agree that there should be a box left in each neighborhood, and I would suspect that the USPS is OK with that as well, but I can't tell you the last time I used a mail box (except for large envelopes and XMAS cards). Our carrier takes our sent mail right from our door if we leave it there. Most Palo Altans have their mail delivered to their door (I KNOW that there are others who do not, but I'm saying MOST). You can leave your mail for the carrier to pick up from there. Let's try to help the USPS save some money so that they don't just depend on raising stamp prices all the time. If you have a specific box that you NEED to have left there, just make sure they know about that one. And again, not just because you don't want to walk an extra few blocks.

23 people like this
Posted by Rachel
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 12, 2015 at 5:05 pm

So glad to see this change. Many in our neighborhood were upset at the loss of our only mailbox. I hope the post office will leave at least one mailbox per neighborhood.

23 people like this
Posted by Open
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 12, 2015 at 6:32 pm

Relief. I am a senior and I spoke to someone yet more senior than I.... today. She was so sad that the mailbox was going to be taken away (this one on Mariposa or Miramonte in Southgate). Did not know how she was going to make it to the mailbox. Thanks for the reprieve.

19 people like this
Posted by John Mark Agosta
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 13, 2015 at 1:50 pm

Keeping the boxes is a nice, pedestrian friendly touch. I hope the decision to keep them is made permanent.

5 people like this
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 13, 2015 at 8:34 pm

Newspaper claims they are going to re-evaluate and might not remove boxes after all.

12 people like this
Posted by an alternate solution
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 14, 2015 at 11:03 am

Someone else made this suggestion at an earlier date. I repeat it for emphasis.
If the postal delivery person is able to pick up outgoing mail from an individual residential address and carry it on his/her delivery truck then why can't the same postal delivery person make a quick stop at a neighborhood mailbox to pick up what little mail is there? That would eliminate the cost of having a different person come by to pick up mail from mailboxes that have too few outgoing letters every day. If indeed there are so few letters in the mailbox then it shouldn't be too unwieldy a task and shouldn't take too long. It is also a lot safer for outgoing mail to be in a mailbox than in in a home post box where it is vulnerable to theft.

Like this comment
Posted by History
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 14, 2015 at 11:24 am

These mailboxes are historical relics. Hardly anyone uses snail mail these days. They belong in a museum and shouldn't be cluttering up sidewalks.

8 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2015 at 11:37 am

I am all for eliminating very low use mailboxes. I am also for having neighborhood mailboxes. I can accept that for historical reasons there are too many boxes in Palo Alto.

The problem that I see is that the USPS took a look at the usage of ALL the mailboxes in Palo Alto and said that every box that has less than 25 letters per day (I think that was the limit) was going to be removed.

What I don't see is the understanding that removing a box might cause people to use the next closest box.

What I would propose that that they take the lowest usage box in each "neighborhood" (have to define what that means) and see if there is an increase in usage in nearby boxes. Then keep removing the lowest usage boxes until the remaining boxes have acceptable usage.

I can anticipate that people are going to complain that they need a box within walking distance. That is just not going to happen. So pick your battle. Do you keep a mailbox on your side of Middlefield/El Camino/Page Mill/etc. or have no boxes at all.


2 people like this
Posted by IncrementalApproach
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 14, 2015 at 11:48 am

I like Marc's incremental approach suggestion

8 people like this
Posted by NoBox
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Dec 14, 2015 at 1:25 pm

My "neighborhood" box is at the Los Altos Hills Town Hall, so not all neighborhoods have a mailbox now. The closest Palo Alto one is on Donald near Arastradero; one slated to go. I use the Donald one so I hope it stays. I prefer the security of a mailbox rather than placing outgoing mail in my unsecured mailbox.

8 people like this
Posted by Post access is is still a very good thing.
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 14, 2015 at 3:26 pm

To History,

Just because you don't use snail mail any more doesn't mean everyone doesn't. Please do not speak for everyone when you have no clue what everyone is actually doing.

I used a mailbox today to post 72 Christmas cards--some contained valuable gift cards (so I needed a secure post box). The nearest post office for me is more then five miles from my home. The postal carrier rolls through my neighborhood daily in a truck I don't understand why stopping at one extra box is really such an inconvenience.

I still hand write letters which I post. People who get them love them. It is a very personal way to keep in touch with the people I care about--many of whom live all over the country and world. I love receiving letters in the mail. I keep the special ones in a box. When my father recently died, I found a treasure trove of handwritten letters that he had saved in his personal effects. What a blessing it was to read those letters!

6 people like this
Posted by Tim Quan
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 14, 2015 at 6:35 pm

I use the mailbox on Colorado and Ross a lot to mail bills and letters. I don't want to see it removed.

Like this comment
Posted by PAmoderate
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 14, 2015 at 9:10 pm

PAmoderate is a registered user.

If you ever worked in a mailroom in your life, you learn very quickly that reducing the number of human hands that are involved with your mail delivery is a good idea.

Go to the post office.

Like this comment
Posted by Chance
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2015 at 10:10 pm

Many years ago the post office experimented with a product where you could send in an email, and then in the destination city or area it would be printed out and delivered by a letter carrier. I think it was called ECOM.

2 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto native
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 15, 2015 at 9:58 am

Pls keep the mailbox on the corner of El Camino Way/West Meadow Dr!

7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Prefer to use a mailbox for my outgoing mail, particularly when returning Netflix and other valuable mailings. I like to use a mailbox that is convenient, hopefully walking distance.

If I had to go to the post office, traffic to the post office is terrible, what a disaster that would be.

I imagine that if mailbox A were closed mailbox B would get more mail. If both mailbox A and mailbox B were merged, the sum total of the mail would be more than 25 pieces. So don't close both mailbox A and mailbox B, close one or the other. In other words, if any mailbox were closed all the nearest boxes would get more mail.

Perhaps USPS is going about this the wrong way.

1 person likes this
Posted by Alice Schaffer Smith
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 15, 2015 at 10:35 pm

We had mailboxes on Glenbrook burgled recently of all the outgoing mail. This was photographed by neighbors' security systems : two men, possibly 3 in the middle of the night. Our local blue box has the notice pinned to it at the time.

I agree that it makes no sense for the mail driver who deposits mail in our letter boxes to not pick up the mail in the blue box.

The elderly and folks with disabilities are certainly not served by the prospective closures. And of course the environment is unnecessarily impacted if we have to drive to mail our letters.

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