Herrera Threatens Discrimination Lawsuit
Against US Postal Service

Written by Luke Thomas. Posted in News

Published on April 16, 2009 with 6 Comments


San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.
Photo by Luke Thomas

By Luke Thomas

April 16, 2009

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today sent a formal letter of demand to the U.S. Attorney’s office outlining his intent to file suit against the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) “for unconstitutionally depriving tenants of single room occupancy hotels, equal and adequate mail delivery in San Francisco.”

In a five-page letter addressed to U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Division Deputy Chief Andrew Y.S. Cheng, Herrera’s said, “The City of San Francisco strongly objects to the United States Postal Service’s decision to deny tenants of single room occupancy residences an equal and adequate method of mail delivery.”

San Francisco Postmaster Noemi Luna informed the City in December that due to “fiscal shortages,” the USPS would no longer deliver mail to individual SRO tenants’ mailbox receptacles, in direct contravention of USPS regulations.

“Under the Postal Service’s own regulations,” Herrera said, “SROs are apartment buildings, and they are entitled to the same method of mail delivery—to individual locked boxes—that is afforded to all other tenants in all other apartment buildings.”

Following a three-month investigation into the impacts of Luna’s policy change, Herrera said SRO-addressed mail is being delivered in bags and left near entryways or on unattended desks, “with no concern for the obvious danger that the mail will be stolen or misdelivered or otherwise ‘disappear.’”

Herrera said the amended USPS policy “unfairly discriminates against the City’s lowest income tenants by denying them services provided to all other apartment dwellers,” and violates SRO tenants’ First Amendment right to receive mail.

Herrera said unless the USPS reinstates SRO mail delivery to individual locked-boxes, he will file suit in federal court on May 1.

“Mail service is not a privilege for the wealthy,” Herrera stated, “and the San Francisco Postmaster’s decision to cut costs by treating SRO tenants differently than other City residents is unfair and cruel.”

More Info

Post Office to the Poor: No Mail for You?

Office of City Attorney Dennis Herrera

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas is a former software developer and computer consultant who proudly hails from London, England. In 2001, Thomas took a yearlong sabbatical to travel and develop a photographic portfolio. Upon his return to the US, Thomas studied photojournalism to pursue a career in journalism. In 2004, Thomas worked for several neighborhood newspapers in San Francisco before accepting a partnership agreement with the SanFranciscoSentinel.com, a news website formerly covering local, state and national politics. In September 2006, Thomas launched FogCityJournal.com. The BBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, New York Times, Der Spiegel, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Bay Guardian and the San Francisco Weekly, among other publications and news outlets, have published his work. Thomas is a member of the Freelance Unit of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, TNG-CWA Local 39521 and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

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  • http://www.fogcityjournal.com/profiles/profile_jim_meko.shtml Jim Meko

    I guess I can understand why the Postal Service is having trouble keeping up with the demand that all these new mailboxes have put on their system. Tight budgets and only so many mail carriers to go around, right? So I imagine the residents of the Millenium Tower, One Rincon and all the other new condo projects opening up all over the South of Market will also have to line up in the lobby, waiting patiently to get the desk clerk’s attention, to see if their dividend checks have come in. These are tough times for all of us.

  • Postal Worker

    What they fail to mention is that the US Postal Service doesnt purchase or maintain those locked apartment or Condo Boxes. They provide the main lock. It’s the Buildings resposibility to provide these boxes for their tennants. So before he files this law suit he should speak to the Hotel itself and question them why they’ve yet to provide for their customers.

  • bloody

    And the post office does not care about service…..you go guy!!!

  • postal93305

    Homeless shelters and motels are businesses, not apartments. These are not residential deliveries and are not subject to the protocals governing residential deliveries. Another example of cash strapped SF wasting millions of tax dollars in the name of their Liberal agenda.

  • jabber_jabber

    Same guy who said banning hand guns in the city would pass constitutional muster? Now finding rights. I love San Francisco “liberals”… not liberal but “what works for me this minute is constitutional”

  • http://www.fogcityjournal.com/profiles/profile_h_brown.shtml Harold Brown

    Hey Postal,

    I love Meko’s observation. The rich will get their mail the day they move in. I know people who have lived for years in SRO’s and you don’t consider that an “apartment” or a “residence”? Do you suggest that no one who has a bathroom or kitchen in their unit not have their mail treated the same as the rich?

    Go get em, Dennis!

    h.