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Mail service changes underway in La Cañada

Advanced sorting system and route adjustments a response to reduced workload, economic downturn.

March 30, 2011|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com

Many La Cañada Flintridge residents are receiving mail delivery at different times and by new letter carriers, thanks to changes initiated by the U.S. Postal Service in the 91011 ZIP code earlier this year.

In January, the local post office became one of the first in the area to have its oversized letters and catalogues pre-sorted by a new automated sequencing machine in Van Nuys — a move to increase efficiency that means letter carriers will be spending less time sorting mail and more time delivering it, explained USPS spokesman Richard Maher.

As a result of that change, the post office restructured its local delivery routes last week, resulting in new delivery times and carriers for some customers. La Cañada Flintridge once had 25 letter-carrier routes, but now there are just 20, Maher said.

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Increased customer reliance on the Internet and lower volumes of business mailings during the recession prompted the changes, part of what’s expected to be a nationwide trend.

“It helps control costs. There are fewer pieces of mail for delivery, but the number of deliveries increases by one million addresses each year, the equivalent of 3,000 routes. So we have less revenue while we’re delivering to more addresses. With our new automation efforts we can control that [disparity],” said Maher.

The 91011 ZIP code became one of the first to use the new flat sequencing system machine — capable of sequencing 16,500 pieces of mail per hour — because the area receives a comparatively high volume of oversized mail that does not fit into standard letter-sorting machines.

The 91214 ZIP code in La Crescenta and 91202 ZIP code in Glendale also now have large letters sorted by the new machine in Van Nuys. Standard-size letters are still processed in Santa Clarita.

Due to a bidding process for new routes that favors employee seniority, many La Cañada Flintridge letter carriers have been shuffled around neighborhoods. None, however, will lose their jobs, Maher said, due to retirements and needs in other areas.

Because homes that were previously at the start of a route may now fall at the end of the newly-configured routes, many La Cañada Flintridge households are experiencing new delivery times from new carriers, but are asked to be patient, Maher said.

“All of the carriers [in 91011], except for one, are now on different routes, and our carriers are in the process of learning their new routes,” he said.

In other local post office news, in light of the recent arrest of a suspected mail thief in La Cañada, residents wishing to consolidate mail delivery to a consolidated lockbox serving whole streets or sections of streets — everyone in the area must agree to the change — can start an inquiry by sending a letter to Postmaster, 607 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada Flintridge CA 91011.
 
 

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