El Verano postal facility closed Friday due to possible 'contamination'

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The El Verano Post Office closed its doors Friday morning, confusing and frustrating residents coming to pick up their mail. Postal service in El Verano is by pickup only and customers were redirected to the Boyes Hot Springs post office about a mile and a half away.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, the El Verano facility is shut down completely until further notice,” read the signs on the doors and windows.

“They’ve got my mail in there – isn’t this illegal?” asked Rachel Anderson, a 22-year-resident of the neighborhood. Anderson added that since there was no street delivery in the neighborhood, she was forced to go to the post office – and pay for it as well. “I just paid $100 a year for my mailbox and now I can’t get it!”

Enrique Deharo, also waiting outside the shuttered government facility, agreed. “I used to live on Willow Street, I always got my mail here,” he said. Deharo noted, however, his smaller mail box only cost $70 a year.

Anderson said she had just picked up mail at the simple brick and plaster structure at 19050 Bay St. that morning, so the “shutdown” – evidently unrelated to the federal government shutdown – had to have happened sometime during the day. “Any idea how long it will last?” she asked.

Augustino Ruiz, Jr., a communications officer with the U.S. Postal Service regional office in San Jose, said the closure was due to possible contamination, at first mistakenly thought to involve asbestos.

“During renovations, they came across apparent contamination problems,” he said. “They’re trying to determine what it might be, but until they do we need to make sure no one goes into the facility.”

Ruiz said he was still finding out details about the closure, and it was unclear “how long it’s going to take to reopen.”

Customers were directed to the Boyes Hot Springs Post Office at 18092 Sonoma Highway, and requested to bring ID to pick up their mail. The Boyes facility said they only had the current day’s mail from El Verano, while mail from previous days was still visible in the individual mailbox windows inside the closed El Verano facility.

“We apologize for the inconvenience,” concluded the note on the door.

On Monday, Jan. 28, the El Verano post office opened at 9:30 a.m., for business as usual.

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