A few weeks back, Westlake Revelations had a piece on the zip code change that the USPS would like to do for Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, and Newbury Park. In that article, we talked about the three reasons that the USPS spokesperson gave for the area. https://westlakerevelations.com/?q=node/85
After further questions to the USPS, we found that all of these reasons either were not true, no longer exist or are not material effects. Furthermore, it does appear that the USPS could avoid the entire zip code change by simply consolidating the number of truck trips between Santa Clarita and Oxnard.
That said, area businesses and residents should expect the zip code change to happen unless the USPS and governmental officials get significant enough feedback that they reconsider.
If the change is made, the following zip codes would be affected: 91320, 91360, 91361 and 91362; and PO Box zip codes of 91319, 91358 and 91359.
If you don’t want the zip code change to happen, you can give feedback to the USPS, your city officials, and your local congressman. If you do want the zip code change to happen — contact the USPS and let them know that, or do nothing.
See below for contact information.
When we published the first article, some of the reasons we were given didn’t make a lot of sense. We took the USPS at their word, but started asking questions — as did other reporters in the area.
What followed was a series of “updates” from the USPS spokesperson about the reasons given. Here’s what the current description now looks like.
The first reason given was the the USPS needed room for more equipment at the Santa Clarita facility for new flat mail processing equipment coming in about a year. We asked questions about whether there were other ways to make space, to add on space, or to handle this differently. A couple of days later, we got a call saying that the equipment is now being placed in Van Nuys, and this issue is now moot.
The second reason given was that Santa Clarita was near capacity. We asked the USPS what capacity they were at, and what other options were being considered to mitigate this problem. The next day, we got a call that the facility was not near capacity, that that information was not true.
The third reason given was better service and efficiency. We asked the USPS if residents or businesses will be getting mail a day earlier, and they said no. In some cases, under optimum circumstances, mail may get to the recipient 60 minutes earlier. In most cases, given that probably 2/3 of mail recipients are residential, only a small percentage (we estimate 5%) will notice a benefit.
And, that 60 minutes is theoretical. For example, traffic on the 101 between Oxnard and Thousand Oaks could eliminate the time savings. Or, if mail carriers don’t show up to work an hour earlier, there wouldn’t be a benefit. Currently, the USPS uses the route from the 5 to 405 to 101. It’s unclear what effects highway 23’s expansion will have on their routes.
The postal service has spoken a great deal about this being more “efficient,” but we were unable to get any clear indication as to why that’s the case.
Efficiency is interesting. The Oxnard sorting facility is closer to the Thousand Oaks post office than the Santa Clarita sorting facility (20 miles or so). That said, there more driving routes that a truck can take from Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks than there are from Oxnard to Thousand Oaks. (And these options will likely get even better once the 23 expansion is opened later this year.)
BUT, about 30% of mail is actually flown into the area to LAX (all First Class and Priority Mail). That mail is then trucked to Santa Clarita … regardless of whether it’s sorted by Oxnard or Santa Clarita. This is the most efficient as Santa Clarita is 21 miles closer to LAX than Oxnard.
Furthermore, a large portion of the rest of the area’s mail is trucked (the majority of these routes will be closer to Santa Clarita than Oxnard due to proximity to Interstate 5 and major population areas).
BUT, the USPS has contracts with private vendors to drive between facilities. Apparently, these trucks are paid the same whether they are full or not. In other words, the USPS can save money in the short run by more fully loading these trucks. Of course, in the long run, the vendors will negotiate higher prices because of higher costs.
The USPS has several runs already in place between Santa Clarita and Oxnard, and their goal with a zip code change is to remove the trips from Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks, and to shift that mail to partially empty truck runs running between Santa Clarita and Oxnard. When we proposed to the USPS that they simply have fewer truck runs between Santa Clarita and Oxnard, and that that would be the greatest efficiency, the USPS had no comment.
Even if the change of zip code would gain some efficiencies, the level of service would not change substantially, and there are many cases where things will become less efficient. For example, if Las Virgenes school district sends you a piece of mail in Westlake Village, it would go from Calabasas (district offices) to Santa Clarita to Oxnard to Thousand Oaks to you … today it would go from Calabasas to Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks to you (about 50 miles less travel). By contrast, mail from Camarillo (the next valley over) to Westlake Village would be more efficient.
In the end, there may be some short term costs saved by shifting costs from the USPS to its private carriers, but when we ask questions, and run the numbers, it appears to be quite minimal. Furthermore, it appears to be short term anyway with private carriers simply needing to wait for their contract renewal to raise prices for greater weights, as well as the population growth explosion in Oxnard and surrounding areas.
Even more the case, for all those pieces of mail that have the current zip codes on them, there is a good chance of a one day delay in delivering those pieces after the one year transition period expires.
Since none of the stated reasons bear out to be true (either ever, or any longer), and there seems to be easier ways to consolidate truck costs, it appears that the real reason for the zip code change is that the USPS wants to balance loads between Oxnard and Santa Clarita.
It’s unclear, however, how much the USPS has taken into account the burden on the community to make this change.
Who to give feedback to
To express your opinion, you should consider to writing your congressman (Federal Government oversees the USPS), your local city, and the USPS. Here’s the contact information for the areas affected.
For residents of: Newbury Park, Thousand Oaks, and 805 side of Westlake Village
Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
(805) 449-2125 FAX
2829 Townsgate Road, Suite 315
Thousand Oaks, CA 91361-3018
Toll Free: (800) 423-0023
FAX: (805) 497-0039
For residents of the LA County (818) side of Westlake Village
City of Westlake Village
31200 Oak Crest Drive
Westlake Village, California 91361
Phone: (818) 706-1613
Fax: (818) 706-1391
8436 West Third Street, Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(323) 651-1040 (phone)
(818) 878-7400 (phone)
(310) 652-3095 (phone)
(323) 655-0502 (fax)
For the USPS, you can try to contact the local offices, but better to contact these offices.
Locally for USPS:
U.S. Postal Service
28201 Franklin Parkway
Santa Clarita CA 91383-9606
U.S. Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza S.W.
Washington DC 20260