Recently, information started to come out about the US Postal Service’s upcoming decision to change the zip codes for Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, and Newbury Park effective July 1, 2008. This will take all the zip codes in Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks, and Newbury Park from a 913xx zip to a 930zz zip.

The decision has not yet been made, and generally, the USPS doesn’t take public comment on such things prior to a decision. You can, however, use this link to voice your opinion, for or against, to the Congressional oversight committee, the local congressmen and area postal representatives.

This is in addition to a pending area code change that’s also being considered for the 818 area code.

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Why the change?

The zip codes are set up such that the first 3 digits of the zip code are assigned exclusively to a single sorting facility. In other words, all zip codes that start with 913xx are sorted by the Santa Clarita facility, and all 930zz are sorted by the Oxnard facility.

The USPS would like to install some new equipment in the Santa Clarita facility, and to do so, they need to make space. This new equipment is to handle larger flat mail (e.g., catalogs). Southern California gets more of these types of mail than most places within the country.

Compounding the use of resources at the Santa Clarita facility is the large amount of growth of population in areas like Santa Clarita, Palmdale, etc… As that growth has come in, the amount of mail has grown considerably as well.

As such, they are proposing to move all the mail sorting for the area served by the Thousand Oaks Post Office to the Oxnard sorting facility. This area has been chosen because it borders on the existing area served by Oxnard, even though there are several zip codes that are newer.

While it won’t make a difference in how many days it takes for mail to reach destinations in the area, the USPS further explains that moving the sorting facility will “cut 30 miles” from the travel of the mail, and make mail delivery more efficient. It will also help balance the “load” between sorting facilities.

Because a great deal of mail is delivered by private parties directly to the sorting facility (for example, heavy use mailers like magazines, credit card companies, and more), it isn’t possible for the long term to simply “map” affected 913xx zip codes to their corresponding 930zz zip codes.

How the change would be handled

Once a decision is made for the change, the new zip codes won’t be in place until July 1, 2008. During a one year period, the USPS will use computerization to look for affected 913xx zip codes and re-route them to their new sorting facility in Oxnard. That will continue until June 30, 2009.

After June 2009, a piece of mail addressed to affected 913xx zip codes will ultimately be delivered, but will be treated as an item with the wrong zip code. In other words, it will be corrected, and re-routed, and there may be a delay of a day or more. This process will go on indefinitely.

Reprinting Your Items

The USPS wants to stress that for the most efficient delivery, you really should move to the new zip code if it goes into effect. That said, if you have a supply of envelopes, stationery, business reply cards, etc…, you are welcome to run your old zip code supply out before switching those items to the new zip code.

Ultimately, the USPS spokesperson stresses, mail will be delivered either way, and not returned to people with the old (aka wrong) zip code … and that will continue indefinitely, but there may be a minor delay in the delivery (on the order of a day).

Other Uses

Zip codes are used for many uses, ranging from determining insurance rates to sales tax, shipping methods, and more. Even with that in mind, the USPS determines the zip codes without those considerations.

Expect that you will need to make efforts to correct all of your vendors, service providers, and more with the change. Furthermore, because many other vendors are using zips for things other than mail, expect some level of confusion and attention to handle those issues. And, expect that those using zip codes to determine sales tax will also be confused. The USPS says that some of the records, relating to mail at least, will be updated automatically for you.

Over a period of years, these issues will ultimately work themselves out as publicly available tables propagate out to companies and organizations that use zip codes for things other than mail delivery.

USPS Oversight

Because the USPS is set up differently from other governmental agencies, there isn’t a specific mechanism for the public to give comment prior to a decision like this … whether for or against the change.

Unlike most government services, the US Postal Service is NOT part of the Executive Branch of the United States government. Instead, it is overseen directly by Congress.

According to Wikipedia, “The USPS is often mistaken for a government-owned corporation (e.g., Amtrak), but as noted above is legally defined as an “independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States,” as it is wholly owned by the government and controlled by the Presidential appointees and the Postmaster General. As a quasi-governmental agency, it has many special privileges, including sovereign immunity, eminent domain powers, powers to negotiate postal treaties with foreign nations, and an exclusive legal right to deliver first-class and third-class mail.”

The congressional group responsible for oversight of the USPS is the “House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia” ( chaired by Danny K. Davis of Illinois.

This subcommittee is part of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform ( chaired by Henry Waxman of California (who happens to represent those in the City of Westlake Village). Elton Gallegly (Ventura County side of Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks and Newbury Park) and Henry Waxman (City of Westlake Village) are the two congressman for the area affected.