Cluster Mailboxes

Land Development
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Contacts: Alex Strong
(202) 266-8279
astrong@nahb.org

Nicholas Julian
(202) 266-8309
njulian@nahb.org

Devala Janardan
(202) 266-8335
djanardan@nahb.org

U.S. Postal Service Should Continue Mail Delivery to the Home

Americans value the dependable delivery of their mail.

Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has seen reduced revenues in recent decades coupled with rising operational costs. The result has been changes to cores USPS services.

In an effort to reduce delivery costs, the USPS in 2012 revised the Postal Operations Manual (POM) to include an expressed preference for centralized mail delivery as the preferred delivery mode for new addresses. In 2018, USPS revised the POM again, replacing the preference for centralized delivery with an explicit statement that curbside, sidewalk delivery and door delivery modes are generally not available for new delivery points. The USPS, in its sole discretion, can determine very rare exceptions to this policy, on a case-by-case basis.

Concerns with Centralized Delivery

Centralized delivery may require developers to incur increased costs in the form of land to be used for the units themselves, as well as for access and parking, and possibly other safety and security features, none of which will be provided by the USPS. And centralized delivery can be particularly problematic for projects that are already underway.

In many cases the USPS has failed to adequately notify developers, engineers, surveyors, planning and zoning administrators, home owners, or home owners associations of this change in policy, thus necessitating the redesign of subdivisions that have already been approved or are under construction.

There has been inconsistent and uneven application of the POM by local postmasters or district designees and the POM does not provide adequate guidance as to when alternative delivery modes may be approved.

The POM also fails to address who has the responsibility to maintain centralized delivery structures and under what circumstances.

Finally, USPS customers don’t like and don’t want this change. People want their mail delivered to their home. In 2015, the USPS conducted a national survey, along with the market research firm Gallup and Professor Michael Bradley of George Washington University’s Department of Economics. The survey found that among the different services provided by USPS, consumers and businesses place the highest value on maintaining delivery to the door and/or curb, rather than delivery to cluster boxes or parcel lockers.

Solutions

NAHB urges the USPS to maintain the option of curbside or sidewalk delivery in new residential developments. NAHB actively opposes any effort by the USPS to mandate cluster mailbox delivery as the “preferred” method of delivery in new residential developments.

NAHB is encouraging the USPS to recognize that the various modes of delivery contained in the current POM are valid for use by developers and builders.

When cluster mailbox units are installed, NAHB is asking the USPS to provide for the maintenance of the units and assume all liability associated with such installation and maintenance.

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