Building a new house? You may not have mail delivery

This may be a bit off the beaten track, but there’s a rule change going into effect at the United States Postal Service (USPS) which will have a direct impact on anyone who is thinking of building or purchasing a newly built home, as well as some newly constructed businesses. For most new structures being built after the rule goes into effect, you probably will not have direct mail delivery to your door. Instead, residents will need to establish group pick-up points where multiple mailboxes are assembled in one spot. Here’s part of the new rules from the USPS website.

631.1 General
[Revise the text of 631.1 to read as follows:]
The Postal Service-approved modes of delivery available for all existing delivery points, including newly established and extensions of delivery points, are in 631.24. Centralized delivery is the preferred mode of delivery for all new residential and commercial developments. Curbside, sidewalk delivery, and door modes are generally not available for new delivery points, with very rare exceptions, as determined by the Postal Service in its sole discretion, on a case-by-case basis. The characteristics of the area to be served and the methods deemed necessary to provide adequate service by the Postal Service are described in greater detail throughout this section.

[Revise the title and introductory text of 631.2 to read as follows:]
631.2 Centralized Delivery (Preferred Mode)
Centralized delivery service is the preferred mode of delivery and may be provided to call windows, horizontal locked mail receptacles, cluster box units (CBUs), wall-mounted receptacles, or mechanical conveyors (mechanical conveyors are only for high-rise and multiple-tenant buildings, and only if certain conditions are met; consult your postmaster for details).

On top of that, in residential areas where curbside delivery is still going to be available, mailbox locations will need to be on the property line of two homes. As Government Executive points out, this will impact almost all new “delivery points” (new construction) in the United States.

The U.S. Postal Service will no longer deliver mail to the door for new addresses, pushing mail users to instead cluster their mailboxes in a centralized area.

The new policy marks a sharp shift as the agency continues to find ways to cut costs and follows through on a proposal for which it has long advocated. USPS announced the change in a recent update to its Postal Operations Manual, in which it also made “centralized delivery” its preferred method of dropping off mail. Having letter carriers deliver mail to a cluster of mailboxes rather than to each individual door allows for more efficient routes that can be completed more quickly.

We already knew that the Post Office was struggling to stop bleeding money every year and were looking for ways to reduce costs. But I hadn’t imagined that one of the measures under consideration was to stop delivering the mail. Okay… that’s not entirely fair. They’ll be delivering it, but for most all homes you’ll need to walk down the street to some “central delivery” location where all the neighborhood mailboxes are located. In some cases you may only have to walk over to the border of your neighbor’s property where both your mailboxes will sit side by side.

Will there be exceptions for the disabled and the elderly who may face significant challenges in getting to the mailbox, particularly in inclement weather? Should there be mandatory security camera coverage of large groups of mailboxes right on the street which could prove tempting to thieves? This new policy certainly raises plenty of questions.

I suppose I’m a bit spoiled, living in a suburb where our postal carrier comes right up on our porch every morning to drop off the mail. I grew up in a rural area where all the houses had to have a mailbox mounted on a post right next to the road so the carrier could just pull over, take care of the delivery and pick-up and drive on to the next house. But maybe this “centralized” delivery will have a plus side to it. With everyone spending so much time plugged into their phones or staring at their laptops, perhaps a short walk outside where you’re more likely to actually see and even talk to your neighbors would be good for us.