This summer, the number of United States Postal Service (USPS) blue collection boxes in Montavilla dropped to four. In July of this year, postal employees removed the iconic blue collection box at 1231 SE 92nd Ave, leaving a sizable gap in the neighborhood for outbound mail-drop locations.
This recent removal was not the first disappearance of this collection box in 2021. In January, thieves broke into this box to steal mail and rendered it unusable. USPS crews replaced the damaged unit within a week. Unlike last time, criminals were not responsible for its permanent removal. Instead, budget cuts and declining use sealed its fate.
A year before the collection box’s removal, national controversy surrounded the reduction of postal services ahead of the presidential election. USPS staff reportedly focused blue box elimination on “redundant” units and not single boxes. None of Montavilla’s five boxes fit that profile and were deemed safe. Ultimately, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy postponed changes to the postal system until after the November 2020 elections, further reducing public concerns. However, the cost-saving efforts resumed in 2021 and progressed without much attention, leading to the box removal from SE 92nd Ave.
Montavilla’s distribution of blue collection boxes has historically skewed towards SE Stark Street and NE Glisan Street. However, two locations south of SE Washington Street provided acceptable coverage for residents. This latest removal has created a much wider gap between places where people can deposit outbound mail. Although these reductions are driven by declining use, citizens expect a reasonable distribution of mail services. Securely sending mail from a home address has increasingly become difficult due to theft and other logistical challenges.
The same area targeted by this USPS collection box reduction will become the location for greater housing density within a few years. Several apartment projects are underway or proposed close to SE Division Street, and new residents would have used the 92nd Ave location.
Admittedly, few people consider proximity to a collection box when deciding where to live. However, USPS blue box placement is one aspect contributing to the walkability of an area. Portland leaders are building the city to encourage car-free activities, and reducing postal boxes is just one small change that will push back against that initiative. With luck, a new box location will arrive at some future date and fill in the gap felt in southeast Montavilla.
UPDATE – In less than a week, a new USPS mail collection box has replaced the vandalized unit.
Original article from January 18th, 2021
Over the weekend, vandals forcibly opened a USPS mail collection box located at 1231 SE 92nd Ave. This postal dropbox is the second location in Montavilla to see this type of destruction. It is unknown if the perpetrators successfully stole mail in this latest incident.
At the end of 2020, miscreants targeted the collection box at the corner of SE 76th and Salmon Street, similar to this weekend’s assault. Twice postal staff have replaced that unit on SE 76th, with the most recent replacement delayed by weeks. A new collection box on the corner SE 92nd Ave and Hawthorne Street could also require weeks before installation. With luck, USPS staff will remove the damaged unit soon and begin work on acquiring its replacement. Until then, residents can locate other collection boxes available in the neighborhood with the list below.
Not long after being replaced late last year, the USPS collection box at the corner of SE 76th and Salmon Street went missing again. First removed after vandals damaged the unit on November 30th, postal crews installed a replacement box within a week. However, by December 23rd, the new collection box again went missing from the sidewalk. Yesterday the blue icon returned to its previous position on the corner.
An unauthorized attempt to open the collection box caused the first removal. Ernie Swanson, Strategic Communications Specialist for USPS, detailed the vandalism. “The lock on the box was damaged to the point that the box could not be opened.”
Repeated inquiries regarding the second removal went unanswered. Comments about this matter from a United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) representative expressed that “to protect the integrity of investigations [USPIS does] not provide details of the existence or progress of ongoing investigations.”
With the Postal collection box now returned, residents no longer need to walk to SE Stark Street and 80th, where the next closest collection box resides. With luck, the collection box will now remain at this location uninterrupted.
UPDATE – The replacement collection box is now missing. USPS representatives did not respond to inquiries regarding this most recent removal.
Original article from December 3rd, 2020
USPS installed a new collection box at the corner of SE 76th and SE Salmon Street. It replaces one removed due to vandalism earlier this week. On Monday, November 30th, USPS employees discovered damage to the lock mechanism on the mailbox. Staff determined that repairs were extensive and required replacement.
Ernie Swanson, Strategic Communications Specialist for USPS, explained the extent of the vandalism. “The lock on the box was damaged to the point that the box could not be opened.” The collection box was replaced a few days after being removed.
The new collection box is mounted a four feet over from its earlier location. The mounting bolts are exposed where the old box had stood, creating a potential trip hazard for pedestrians.
Located at 1208 SE 76th Ave, this is one of a handful of postal collection boxes in the Montavilla Neighborhood. After the national concern over mailbox removal, there was worry that this box was penalty removed. Swanson explained that all collection boxes serving Montavilla would remain in service.
Fortunately, the damage to the lock only caused the collection box to fail closed. Residents using mailboxes in the neighborhood can feel assured that box location and security remain intact. The replacement collection box on SE 76th Ave is ready to serve the neighborhood’s western edge once again.
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