With New Space Still In Limbo, Conditions At Tenderloin Post Office Deteriorate

Last summer, the Planning Commission approved plans to demolish the one-story U.S. post office at 101 Hyde (at Golden Gate) to construct an eight-story, 85-unit residential building with ground-floor retail. A series of appeals was defeated last fall, solidifying the site's future as primarily market-rate housing.

But while the Tenderloin post office is still open for the time being, the location seems to be falling into disrepair far more quickly than the Postal Service plans to vacate.

Trash litters the ground outside, where crowds of people camp day and night. Broken windows are either boarded up with graffiti-tagged plywood, or duct-taped to hold the cracks together.

A boarded-up window at the Tenderloin post office.

The entrance on Golden Gate is held together by duct tape.

Inside, the tile flooring is covered in trash and splattered with stains. On warm afternoons, large swarms of flies buzz in circles around the lobby, while individuals and groups hang out in the open space in corners of the lobby and between rows of post boxes.

An overturned bin of mail (or trash) on the floor.

Boxes of produce in one corner, likely left as an offering for those in need.

David Baker, president of the former North of Market Planning Coalition and a longtime P.O. box renter, said that while conditions at the branch have never been stellar, they've noticeably plunged in recent weeks.

Michael Nulty, executive director of the Alliance for a Better District 6, which rents a P.O. box in the branch, agrees. "The lobby and box section is overrun by homeless people, smoking cigarettes, throwing garbage all over, tagging the windows. [There's a] broken glass door, broken windows, and people just hanging around and bringing chairs to sit inside," he told us via email. 

Nulty, a Tenderloin resident whose brother, John Nulty, appealed the housing proposal for 101 Hyde, is not enthusiastic about how the post office is handling the situation now that it's being moved out. "Various boxholders do not feel safe entering and exiting to retrieve mail. We are seeking for the Postal Police to daily monitor the facility."

Nulty has complained to the Postal Service about the conditions at 101 Hyde. In response, he received a voicemail from the branch supervisor, Gary Fong, who stated that postal police would be called in. But Nulty says he has yet to see a postal police officer at 101 Hyde, and the unpleasant conditions haven't abated. 

Discarded trash piled up behind a locked gate along the post office's Hyde Street exterior.

Coalitions of neighbors, including the Post Office Patrons—of which both Baker and Nulty were active members—and The New Tenderloin, have fought for years to bring a safe and secure full-service post office to the neighborhood.

The problem began in 1989 after the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the area's main post office, then located within the Federal Building at Seventh and Mission. USPS moved its retail operations to Fox Plaza (1390 Market St.), and opened 101 Hyde in 1991 for postbox access and general delivery only. With a paucity of windows and few staff members present, the building became a "federally-funded crime zone," Beyond Chron wrote at the end of 2007.

After rallies and hearings about the inadequate facility and ongoing safety concerns, supporters celebrated a major victory in 2008: USPS finally pledged to make 101 Hyde a full-service post office. But those plans were abandoned less than a year later.

For the time being, the location remains open Mondays through Saturdays, with patrons checking their postboxes and picking up their mail from the general delivery window. But as the developer of 101 Hyde prepares to start construction, the Postal Service plans to move the postboxes in use at 101 Hyde to Fox Plaza late next month, opening a separate facility in the Tenderloin for general delivery only. 

There's just one problem: they haven't found that new space yet. USPS is "still working to negotiate a leased space for the general delivery in the immediate area in the same time frame," said Augustine Ruiz, communications manager for USPS. The Postal Service's original lease on 101 Hyde expired at the end of 2015, but it has been extended through the spring as the hunt for a new space continues. Meanwhile, a building permit was issued in early February for the necessary work to construct postboxes at Fox Plaza.

Inside the full-service post office at Fox Plaza (1390 Market St.) 

While he doesn't use general delivery, Nulty hopes that the eventual new location will offer a better solution for Tenderloin neighbors who do. "I would be very supportive if the new location for General Delivery provides better security, more operating hours including Saturdays, and provides additional postal services at the location such as outgoing mail service," he said.

However, he sees relocating the postboxes to Fox Plaza as a less-than-perfect solution. Fox Plaza lacks parking, and it's a long, windy walk from the Tenderloin, crossing many of the city's most traffic-injury-prone intersections. 

The only upside, he said: there are retail services onsite, meaning this will be the first time Tenderloin postbox users will be able to retrieve their mail and buy stamps or ship packages all in one place.

If you'd like to share questions or concerns with the United States Postal Service about the conditions at 101 Hyde St., you can use this form to email customer service or give them a call at 1-800-275-8777. For questions and comments about their relocation plans, contact Augustine Ruiz at augustine.ruizjr@usps.gov. We'll keep you updated on the latest news about the relocation.

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With new space still in limbo conditions at tenderloin post office deteriorate