No plans to expand crowded Tahoe Vista post office | SierraSun.com

No plans to expand crowded Tahoe Vista post office

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun
Emma Garrard/Sierra SunPostmaster Lea Jacobsen of the Tahoe Vista Post Office retrieves a customer's mail Tuesday afternoon. The small post office has just 454 boxes, which are all rented. More than 35 people are on the waiting list for postal boxes.
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Anyone applying for a post office box with a Tahoe Vista zip code better be prepared to wait a minimum of nine months to a year before one is available.

The acute shortage of post office boxes may pose a problem for a community where a number of proposed development projects could bring an influx of new residents.

The post office’s 454 boxes are all occupied, and more than 70 people are already in line, waiting for the next vacant box.

Another 40 residents have signed up for general delivery, where the mail comes to a name-designated bin. Those 40 people must come to the front counter at least once a week during office hours to pick up their mail.

The rest have resorted to renting postal addresses in Kings Beach, Carnelian Bay or Tahoe City, said Tahoe Vista Postmaster Lea Jacobsen.

“This office has been at capacity for many, many years,” Jacobsen said. “There’s just no movement, meaning nobody closes their box.”

With no immediate plans for expansion or moving to a larger facility, Tahoe Vista’s lack of boxes complicates mail delivery for future development projects.

“As long as I don’t have P.O. boxes available, general delivery will be the only way to receive mail in Tahoe Vista,” Jacobsen said.

Truckee Postmaster Mark Skellham said the downtown Truckee branch is full, but it isn’t as much of a problem because Truckee offers rural delivery, and the Donner branch still has available post office boxes.

“Every month you close a few [boxes] and you open a few,” Skellham said. “So, you stay pretty close to full occupancy.”

Ellie Waller, the relief postmaster for Tahoe Vista, said a change, move or expansion is needed to accommodate the community, but the authority to make that decision ultimately resides with her supervisors.

Jacobsen said post offices nationwide are facing similar problems, a situation that is exacerbated by cost.

“It’s not so much that the [United States Postal Service] does not want to move this particular office, but nationwide there are post offices that need to move into larger facilities,” Jacobsen said.

Waller said the post office delivers mail to some multi-unit complexes, such as the Chateau Chamonix, where the site has one, large postal box. The manager picks up the mail and sorts it, she said.

A similar system could work for the proposed new complexes, Waller said. But then again, no large boxes are currently available.

Jacobsen said developers are required to coordinate mail service with the post office in cities with carrier services, but she was unsure how the policy would work in Tahoe Vista, which does not offer carrier delivery.

A lack of vacant boxes is not the only aspect of the Tahoe Vista post office that will be affected by residential growth. Their parking lot already has high volumes of traffic, with people frequently parking on the side of the road.

“We’re right here on the corner of National and North Lake Boulevard, and it’s a very busy, busy intersection,” Jacobsen said. “You have to, a lot of times, back out of the parking [lot] into National Avenue.”