Specifically authorized by Congress in the U.S. Constitution, mail delivery is a basic function of the federal government, valued by Americans who depend on that service.
But for the past few decades, U.S. Postal Service (USPS) revenue has been reduced by competition from private carriers, innovations in delivery services, and fluctuations in fuel prices.
Seeking to lower delivery costs, in 2012 USPS revised the Postal Operations Manual (POM) to determine how deliveries to new addresses will be made. This action effectively changed the way Americans receive mail by focusing delivery away from sidewalk and curbside delivery (individual mailboxes) to centralized cluster box units (CBUs), parcel lockers, or centralized mailboxes in new residential developments.
Centralized delivery may require developers to incur costs to dedicate land for these units, as well as access and parking and possibly other safety and security features, such as extra lighting, not provided by USPS.
Centralized delivery can be particularly problematic for projects already underway. In many cases, USPS failed to adequately notify developers, engineers, surveyors, planning and zoning administrators, homeowners, or homeowner associations of this policy change, causing the redesign of subdivisions that have already been approved or are under construction.
Moreover, the POM is being applied inconsistently by local postmasters or district designees and doesn’t give adequate guidance as to when alternative delivery modes may be approved. The POM also fails to address who is responsible for maintaining centralized delivery structures and under what circumstances.
NAHB urges USPS to maintain the option of curbside or sidewalk delivery in new residential developments and actively opposes any effort by USPS to mandate cluster mailbox delivery as the “preferred” method of delivery in new residential developments.
NAHB is encouraging USPS to acknowledge that any of the various modes of delivery contained in the current Postal Operations Manual are valid for use by developers and builders. And when cluster box units are installed, NAHB asks that USPS provide for the maintenance of the units and assume all liability associated with installation and maintenance.
Access a PDF of this article in Professional Builder's July 2019 digital edition