'It's been miserable': Small North Bay town going on more than 2 months without a post office

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ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Thursday, May 4, 2023
North Bay town going on more than 2 months without a post office
In the rural, coastal community of Bolinas in west Marin County it's now been two months since they've had a post office.

BOLINAS, Calif. (KGO) -- It's a big problem in a small town. In the rural, coastal community of Bolinas in west Marin County it's now been two months since they've had a post office. A large sign on the way into town counts how many days it's been.

As of Wednesday, it was 61.

"We're all counting, and we're all watching, and we're all pissed, 'cause it's not right," Jen Siegel, a Bolinas resident, told ABC7 News.

The post office closed earlier this year due to a dispute between the U.S. Postal Service and the landlord of the building where it operated. Since then, the town's 2,000 residents have had to drive between 20 and 40 minutes round trip just to get their mail. Few people in town have the option of home delivery.

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"It's been miserable," said Bolinas resident Marc Sanchez-Corea, while picking up his mail at the closest post office in Stinson Beach.

"Hopefully I get all the mail. I'm never sure. Sometimes it's sitting outside. Sometimes I don't get it. They say it's here but it's not," he said. "It's a mess."

Residents say their mail was first routed to Olema, but after the post office there closed due to flooding from the recent storms, they've now been redirected to Stinson Beach.

"It's a major burden on our town," John Borg, a Bolinas resident who started a change.org petition to reopen the post office, said. "We're an older community, which relies more on the post office."

Borg said the average age of Bolinas residents is 65 and that many residents get their medications in the mail. Borg, who is diabetic, said because their new mail system has been unreliable, he is now driving an hour each way to San Rafael to get his insulin.

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"Literally, the post office is a lifeline for our community. It connects us with the greater world. And to lose it is a huge takeaway," he said.

Borg said the post office has been in Bolinas since the 1860s and is one of the oldest in Northern California. He called it the watering hole for the town.

"We need our post office back and we need to break through the log jam and somehow get their attention," he said.

To do that, the coastal artist enclave is turning to art and poetry. Residents have collectively decorated and sent more than 250 letters to USPS in the hopes of grabbing their attention and breaking through the bureaucracy.

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"Please find a way to bring our post office back and restore the human connection that we now sorely lack," one poem reads.

Marin County Supervisor Dennis Rodoni said the county wants to help but their hands are tied.

"There is not much we can do. It's a federal agency and we really have little authority over them," Rodoni said. "We've been trying to help the community decide where would be an appropriate temporary facility, where might the next permanent facility be, and I think some of those things are actually coming to fruition right now because there's been some recent activity of submitting to the post office about short-term and long-term solutions."

Kristina Uppal, a spokesperson for USPS, told ABC7 News that the Postal Service received a 30-day notice to vacate from their tenant which forced them find "emergency temporary quarters."

"Moving our postal operations to the Stinson Beach Post Office is a temporary measure," Uppal said. "This is not a closure as we are actively seeking a long-term location in Bolinas."

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But Borg says that could take years. He's hopeful the post office will open a temporary site in Bolinas soon.

Residents said the issue is a larger problem beyond Bolinas.

"It's a much bigger issue than Bolinas. Bolinas is just a small blip on the screen," Sanchez-Corea said. "But we're emblematic of the bigger issue in this country that they're shutting down the rural post offices."

"We have to reopen our rural post offices," he added. "It's Democratic. Part of the U.S. Constitution, we have a post office."

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