A postal worker loads packages in Santa Cruz in December.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
Civic Life

Scotts Valley mail woes spark more action from Rep. Eshoo, but USPS says they’ve been fixed

Prompted by new complaints, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, again is asking postal service officials to address mail delivery issues in Scotts Valley. But USPS says that with its peak season behind it, there is “no anticipated problem moving forward.”

For the second time in a little more than a month, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo has written U.S. Postal Service leaders asking them to fix mail delivery problems in Scotts Valley.

The post office’s response? There shouldn’t be any more issues because the holiday season is over.

Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, told Lookout on Monday that she’s optimistic her second letter — sent on Jan. 22 — has gotten mail delivery back on track. In a statement, she said the postal service has told her that its “staff has been retrained and normal delivery has been restored.”

However, “I continue to closely monitor services and urge constituents to report any problems to my office so we can work to resolve them,” Eshoo said in her statement.

In a Jan. 22 letter to District Manager Eddie Morgan of the Bay-Valley Postal District, Eshoo said that Scotts Valley mail continued to not be delivered “for days at a time” or sent to the wrong address; that shipments were incorrectly marked as delivered when they haven’t arrived; and that packages were placed below mailboxes, thereby leaving them “exposed on the street.” The Bay-Valley Postal District spans the entire Bay Area and includes all of Santa Cruz County.

She also noted that since she sent a Dec. 18 letter to Morgan, outlining similar issues, she had received 49 additional mail complaints from Scotts Valley residents.

“As I stated in my last letter, I’m aware that the Postal Service needs additional staffing due to COVID, because it’s been the cause of delays and stoppages in service when carriers are out on leave,” Eshoo wrote in her Jan. 22 letter. “Since learning about the staffing shortage, I’ve consistently publicized USPS hiring opportunities to spread the word and I will continue to.”

Eshoo also said she’s learned that the post office’s Scotts Valley vehicle fleet is “outdated and badly in need of an upgrade” and that there have not been any new hires for mail delivery routes within the community.

“Until Scotts Valley is back at full complement, I respectfully request that carriers be transferred from other cities while Human Resources focuses on bringing new team members on board,” she wrote. “This would allow the dedicated carriers of Scotts Valley to take a day off periodically without their entire route going without mail.”

Mail problems — not only in Scotts Valley, but throughout pockets of Santa Cruz County — were the subject of an exclusive Lookout report on Dec. 14. At that time, post office officials said that a huge increase in online shopping prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic had overwhelmed their local ranks, but they stopped short of substantiating social media reports that the virus also was hurting post office staffing.

In a subsequent Lookout report, a USPS spokesman acknowledged that the Bay Area had been “experiencing employee availability and processing impacts due to COVID and extremely high volume mailings.” This marked their first acknowledgment that the pandemic — understandably given its surge at the time — had hurt staffing.

USPS officials on Monday told Lookout that any previous issues in Scotts Valley and elsewhere stemmed from high demand during the holiday and vote-by-mail seasons.

“The Scotts Valley office has zero backlog and [there is] no longer a vital issue in any service indicators,” USPS spokesman Augustine Ruiz wrote in an email to Lookout. “The main issue was package volume over capacity (meaning more volume than work hours to handle it), employee availability and employee experience during political and peak seasons.”

Following reports from Scotts Valley residents — and residents countywide — about mail delivery issues, Rep. Anna Eshoo,...

Ruiz said those things are no longer an issue. “There is no anticipated problem moving forward,” he wrote.

Eshoo in her letter asked Morgan to respond to each problem she cited and tell her how he plans to correct them.

“More than anything else, there needs to be a plan to address each of these issues and how to carry them out in a timely, efficient and consistent way,” she wrote.

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