Cries of concern have been coming from the normally sleepy Santa Barbara County burgs of Los Olivos and Summerland after the United States postmaster general announced plans last week to greatly reduce the hours of operation for the post office facilities in those communities. According to the plan, which is slated to take effect July 15, the counter service hours of the Los Olivos branch on Grand Avenue, which is open Monday-Friday, would be reduced from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. to 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Somewhat similarly, the Summerland branch would be open from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. during the workweek.
The service shifts are a money-saving move according to Postal Service spokesperson Jim Wigdel, but they have been met with worry from area residents, as both Los Olivos and Summerland are post office box–only communities. That is to say, nobody who lives around those parts has actual mail service at their house. Further, for folks who work 9-to-5 jobs in places like Santa Barbara or Goleta or Santa Maria, the proposed new hours would make it all but impossible to handle counter-service business, such as picking up oversized packages or sending out bulky items, at their home post office. Instead, they would be forced to reroute those activities through nonimpacted facilities in places like Santa Barbara or Solvang or Carpinteria.
However, this week, Los Olivos Postmaster Lori Oakley had some potentially good news for her constituents. “Just today, I was told over the phone by my supervisor that they will be changing [the current closure plan]. … I think they have been listening [to all the worry], and they are recalculating what might work best for us,” explained Oakley on Monday afternoon, adding that she expects an updated version of the service proposal to be posted at her office by Friday, June 28. In the meantime, Oakley stressed that even if the new hours were to become a reality, people would still be able to take advantage of the will-call door at her office and have the ability to pick up packages during off business hours. “No matter what, if you knock on the door and we are here,” said Oakley, “we will be happy to help you even if we are technically closed.”