Postal Service survey results for South Shore
Although nearly two-thirds of the Lake Tahoe Basin population favors home mail delivery, a recent U.S. Postal Service survey revealed that South Shore residents on both sides of the state line feel otherwise.
Approximately two-thirds of the South Lake Tahoe residents who responded to the survey reported that they don’t use home delivery service – even though they can get it free. Nearly 70 percent prefer to pay for a post office box and 14 percent reported using a combination of both.
Residents of Zephyr Cove, where post office boxes are the only means of mail delivery, expressed the least support for carrier service in the entire Lake Tahoe Basin, with only 44 percent in favor of it.
“Initial newspaper coverage of the survey results were not exactly clear when it came to South Shore,” said Susan Simon, planning consultant for the U.S. Postal Service. “They were accurate, but they had people thinking the majority of Tahoe wanted home delivery. But when the results are broken down into smaller areas, you get different results.”
The 16,000 surveys, delivered to randomly selected addresses throughout the Tahoe Basin in July, were the initial step in developing a U.S. Postal Service master plan. The long-term goal of this basin-wide plan, said master plan consultant Sue Rae Irelan, is to improve service to customers while reducing the number of car trips to the post office.
“We have average trip lengths of 2 1/2 miles to 7 miles. It adds up pretty fast,” Irelan said. “To the degree that home mail delivery is not widely used in a community, it reduces its effectiveness.”
Irelan said she found that home delivery in areas such as the city of South Lake Tahoe was unpopular mainly because of the difficulty of clearing snow from a mail box or cluster box in the winter.
“That is the No. 1 factor that people in South Lake Tahoe and Incline Village have,” Irelan said. “It’s a real issue here and a stumbling block for people who might want to get home mail.”
But with the survey showing such a strong interest in home mail delivery, the U.S. Postal Service Master Plan Working Team is considering various ideas to increase home mail delivery – also a goal of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
“It may be possible to offer seasonal service,” Irelan said. “Because we really want to reduce the traffic in Tahoe in the summertime.”
At workshops following the release of the survey results, Simon noted that residents were concerned that they would be forced into accepting home delivery, when in fact they preferred picking up their mail at the post office.
“To get carrier service, a service has to petition for it,” Simon explained. “If a particular area is not in favor of home delivery, they don’t have to get it. There’s a whole process involved in getting carrier service. Also, just because two-thirds of the basin say they want home delivery doesn’t mean everyone is getting it tomorrow.”
A draft master plan will be released in January and finalized next spring, Irelan said. Some type of home mail delivery will very likely be included in the plan in order to reduce traffic and air pollution in the basin, she said.
The Tribune News Service ‘s Tanya Canino contributed to this story
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