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Santa Rosa neighbors get their mail, and an apology

By CHRIS SMITH
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa’s acting postmaster Wednesday paid a visit to the postal patrons who’d been told by her agency to move their mailboxes from their front doors to the curb, and whose delivery service was suspended when they failed to comply.

Mike Haas in front of his Santa Rosa home. (Alvin Jornada / PD)

Mike Haas in front of his Santa Rosa home. (Alvin Jornada / PD)

Julie LoDolce apologized to the residents, handed them their stored-up mail and promised that walk-up delivery will resume immediately.

LoDolce brought with her to the neighborhood off Hidden Valley Drive the Santa Rosa Post Office customer service supervisor, Gurpreet Kaur, who apparently acted without the postmaster’s knowledge or permission when she sent out letters directing about 10 postal patrons to move their mailboxes to the street.

Kaur “sort of overstepped her authority, got a little overzealous,” said USPS spokesman James Wigdel in San Francisco. “There were some procedures that were not followed precisely.”

Wigdel said he could not comment on whether Kaur might face disciplinary action for improperly suspending patrons’ mail delivery after notifying them that “safety issues” with their driveways required that they move their house-mounted mailboxes to where they can be reached by a carrier in a vehicle.

The apology by her boss, LoDolce, coupled with LoDolce’s promise to immediately resume home delivery, appears to end an episode that proved perplexing and insulting to several neighbors on Winding Ridge Drive, Winding Ridge Court and Stonewood Drive.

The third week in January, each received from Kaur an identical “Dear Postal Customer” letter. It advised them that Kaur had recently become aware that an unsafe condition existed at their homes because “the letter carrier is required to drive up and turn around/back up in your personal driveway to service your mailbox.”

The letter asked that residents relocate their mailboxes to the curb.

Lifelong neighborhood resident Mike Haas figured that for the letter to be sent to him was a simple mistake. He said his carriers have never once driven up his driveway, that they park at the curb and carry his mail the short distance across the driveway to the front door.

Haas said he phoned Kaur to inform her of the apparent error, and she insisted repeatedly that there is a safety issue at his house and he must install a mailbox at the curb.

Several of Haas’ neighbors were equally perplexed because the mail carrier does drive up their driveways, but they said she makes an easy U-turn at the top and there has never been any evidence or mention of a safety concern.

Haas and some of his neighbors said that if the Post Office wants to convert them from walk-up delivery to drive-by, there are USPS procedures for instituting that change. They said it irked them that Kaur appeared to have manufactured a safety issue in order to bypass the procedures and simply force them to move their boxes.

Postal spokesman Wigdel said a few of the residents who received the letter from Kaur did install mailboxes at the curb by the deadline Kaur had imposed: March 16. Delivery service to those who did not comply was suspended on March 18.

A story in The Press Democrat on Tuesday was followed by a news report on CBS/Channel 5.

Also on Tuesday, a carload of USPS officials inspected the conditions in the neighborhood. Among them was a safety inspector and a USPS driving instructor.

Shortly after 2 p.m. on Wednesday, resident Haas reported, “The acting postmaster just stopped by my house, hand-delivered my mail and apologized for this whole mess.”

He said he showed LoDolce the letters he’d received from Kaur, and it was evident to him that the postmaster had never before seen them.

Wigdel, the USPS spokesman in San Francisco, said a letter of that nature should have been signed by the postmaster, not by a customer service supervisor.

He said the post office’s review of the situation in the neighborhood revealed that “there were three customers in particular who got the letter who shouldn’t have.”

At some point, Wigdel said, postal authorities will get back in touch with those residents who have long driveways and will work with them to find an agreeable mode of mail delivery.

But for the moment, he said, “The most important thing is that the customers now have their mail and delivery is being resumed.

“We apologize that there was a disruption in the mail flow,” Wigdel said.

On Winding Ridge Court, Mike Haas concluded, “I think we got the whole problem resolved.”

Chris Smith is at 521-5211 and chris.smith@pressdemocrat.com.





9 Responses to “Santa Rosa neighbors get their mail, and an apology”

  1. Robert says:

    I don’t think it is right for a government agency to lie about conditions, creating a need and changing things outside their own rules, for the sake of laziness and inconvienience. What they did was wrong, regardless of how you feel about the situation.

    I don’t think people should allow government agencies to break rules and laws just becuase it doesn’t effect them, this time. Next time it might, and you will feel just like this situation.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  2. Dan Drummond Sr says:

    That’s right Cathy Travels! Don’t let a Federal agency push you around. Who says we have to travel on the right side of a federal highway? Don’t listen to the idiots at the Department of Transportation! Drive in any direction you want, Cathy. And good luck!

    We’re giving our freedoms away. The American experiment was about freedom. Freedom to be stupid, freedom to fail, freedom to succeed. ~Glenn Beck

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Cathy Travels says:

    It’s a matter of fighting overbearing officiousness on the part of a Federal agency. Don’t let them push you around, it’s what they count on to get their way and trample the people.

    Let them have their way and we will all live, unarmed, in crowded little urban villages
    (which is to say, GHETTOS) where they can keep their eyes and their thumbs on us.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

  4. sharon says:

    i do not have to complain because my mailbox is right outside my doorstep

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  5. Joe says:

    I have to walk 60 feet to get my mail, it is set up with 4 others, and we don’t complain. These people are retired, they have all day to go grab their mail, and the one complaining is a ex-CHP officer, I don’t get it. BABIES!!!!!

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 5

  6. Steveguy says:

    I say make them put up a box. Mine is delivered doorfront, but it is flat and close with others. I have had many styles of delivery over the years. This location begs for curbside. Heck, even a communal one with like 8-16 boxes in one should do well there if they are so snooty.

    Seems as though the “acting” Postmaster needs a replacement. Grow a spine.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 5

  7. GAJ says:

    They walk up to my door also which does seem unproductive.

    My daughter lives in a neighborhood where the mailboxes for all houses on the street are in one “pod” of mailboxes in the middle of the block.

    That seems much more productive, though less quaint.

    I’d be happy to give up “to the door” service if it would help the efficiency of the Postal Service.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

  8. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    It certainly is nice to have your mail delivered right to your door. However, with the PO trying to survive, it makes sense that ALL OF US don’t scream “meany” when changes have to be made to streamline delivery. I can’t believe the man in the picture is complaining. I don’t see two casts on his legs, but even then he can use a wheelchair.

    I think many of us are just plain spoiled rotten.

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 4

  9. Over Easy says:

    I never really thought about having the mailbox at the front door or on the street. Ive had it both ways and was never aware of the difference.

    I bet it makes a HUGE difference in the productivity of the carriers and ultimately cost more for everyone.

    These folks concealed the issue in a “they did not give proper notice” and “they were mean to us” type of position but the real beef is they don’t want to walk to the street. A valiant crusade about nothing.

    Get over it

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