With Berkeley set to change civic center zoning, US Postal Service ponders lawsuit

The Berkeley City Council is poised to set up new zoning standards in civic center. Marked above: (1) Old City Hall; (2) Veterans’ Memorial Building; (3) State Farm Insurance Building; (4) Civic Center Park; (5) Civic Center Building; (6) Downtown Berkeley YMCA; (7) Berkeley High School; (8) Berkeley Main Post Office; (9) the Berkeley Community Theater/Florence Schwimley Little Theater. Image: City of Berkeley

A crowd gathered in July to hear Ralph Nader’s views on the proposed sale of the post office. Photo: Darius Wekwerth

The U.S. Postal Service is pushing back against a city proposal to limit development at its downtown Berkeley post office property, which has been up for sale since 2012.
Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council is slated to approve that proposal, to establish more restrictive development standards in Berkeley’s civic center on nine parcels, including the post office property at Allston Way and Milvia Street.

An attorney for the post office, R. Clark Morrison, has sent five letters to the city since January in opposition to the plan, decrying it as spot zoning, and saying the city’s decision not to pursue a full environmental review in connection with the plan is at odds with its own code and the law. On Monday, Morrison declined to comment on the matter, but one city staffer familiar with the issue said the USPS is likely to sue the city if council approves the zoning changes.

Postal Service spokesman Augustine Ruiz Jr. said via email Monday that “The Postal Service is evaluating all options with respect to the actions taken by the City of Berkeley, including evaluating the possibility of litigation.” ….


“The U.S. Postal Service announced plans in mid-2012 to sell its downtown Berkeley 1914 “Neoclassical Renaissance” building. It put the property on the market last October.

It’s an approach the USPS has taken nationwide in recent years, citing crushing financial troubles that have necessitated restructuring and downsizing. A website created by CBRE, the global real estate firm overseeing the transactions, lists 41 USPS buildings for sale. Many of them include a price tag, but Berkeley’s does not; a blue icon on the listing reads “negotiating.” The firm told Berkeleyside in October that it would not be releasing a price for the Berkeley deal. (See CBRE’s flier and pamphlet promoting the Berkeley property.)”

Read more: With Berkeley set to change civic center zoning, US Postal Service ponders lawsuit | Berkeleyside.

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