USPS Cluster Box Unit Mailboxes
Nov 2013 Status: The results of polling the neighborhood re CBUs are: 73 said NO; 3 said YES; 3 were Neutral, 13 have not yet responded. As it is all or none, KB will decline the USPS offer and wait until there is a law in place requiring CBU conversion.
9-27-2013: According to the County Engineering Department, an easement would be required from County Council before CBUs could be installed on a County strip. According to USPS, their only consideration is to ensure ADA compliance. They feel no obligation to obtain an easement from the County. It is true that mailboxes across the island are installed on County strips with no easement, just as ours would have been if A&B had installed the sidewalks according to regulatory standards (see below). This easement issue is between USPS and Maui County. Hopefully they will have worked it out amongst themselves by the time Kuau Bayview is mandated to revisit the idea of converting to Cluster Box Units.
The following is on hold until further notice...
After researching CBUs, it was discovered that USPS was a bit "overly zealous" in conveying to us their desire to convert KB to CBUs. At least at this point we do have a choice, and no one knows when or if that may change in the future.
You may have heard that the US Postal Service has begun converting to the Cluster Box Unit (CBU) mode of mail delivery throughout the USA, everywhere that mail cannot be delivered without leaving the vehicle. Deliveries for all new construction nationwide will be in a centralized format. The issue is periodically before Congress where they seek a mandate to convert to-the-door delivery to curbside delivery. The next mandate they seek will be to convert curbside delivery to CBUs.
On Sept 24, 2013, Cindy Hand, the former Paia Postmaster, requested the Board's cooperation & offered to pay the $6000 it would cost to convert Kuau Bayview to CBUs. According to Cindy, this was a one-time offer, would apply to all owners or none, and one location only (the boxes can't be split up). We were told CBU funding is limited and may not be offered in the future, whether the conversion is voluntary or becomes mandatory.
According to Cindy, our postal issue was caused by A&B. A&B ignored communications from USPS during the development stage of KB, and failed to build the sidewalks according to USPS "regulatory standards." The 42" grassy County strip is normally between the sidewalk and the curb but A&B placed the sidewalk right next to the curb to make the lots look bigger. If they had followed regulatory standards, our mailboxes could have been installed next to the curb where the postman could access the boxes without leaving the vehicle. Thanks to A&B, Kuau Bayview is one of the most expensive neighborhoods on Maui for mail delivery because the carrier has to get out and walk to every mailbox. Because of the sidewalk location, it is not physically possible to install the mailboxes next to the curb. Even if the posts were bolted to the curb itself, the mailbox is 23" deep and would extend into the 47.5" sidewalk creating an obstruction to pedestrians. ADA Compliance requires a 36" clearance; the County would not allow this liability. So once again A&B has left us in a compromised position by denying us the curbside option. KB mail delivery is classed as to-the-door service, so if and when there is a mandate to convert to-the-door mode to curbside mode, KB has no choice but to go straight to CBUs.
Everyone knows USPS has been losing money at an alarming rate. While Kuau Bayview would like to support the Postal Service in their efforts to stay viable in a digital age, we are not willing to give up our home delivery unless required by law. In 2013 USPS tried to convince us that there was a federal mandate requiring everyone in the country to convert to CBUs, which turned out not to be true. Now they would have us believe that our mail is not safe. USPS should have gone to the County Planning Commission hearing in 1994 and contested approval of A&B's SMA Permit for the KB subdivision until they complied with regulatory standards, but they did not. USPS should be asking A&B to pay USPS for the added costs resulting from their bad design instead of asking KB homeowners to voluntarily give up our home delivery which we value so highly.
What CBU Conversion would mean for Kuau Bayview
- Five 16-box CBUs + one 12-box CBU would be installed on the Paia side of Lae St probably near the utility boxes next to Lot 29 along the sidewalk. There are only 4 possible locations.
- Splitting up the units to different locations, for example one for each street, is not an option USPS is willing to consider.
- Lae St is not a busy street so cars stopping briefly to pick up mail would not pose a traffic problem. And many people may prefer to walk to the boxes in any case.
- USPS would pay up front for the CBUs, the installation, and the initial keys ($6000+). If necessary, additional lighting or awnings would be paid by the HOA.
- The CBUs would remain the property of the USPS but the HOA would be responsible to maintain them in the case of wear, damage, or graffiti.
- After the CBUs are installed (IF they are installed), mail would no longer be delivered to our houses but rather to the CBUs.
- Each owner will be issued 3 keys which will be legal to copy.
- It will cost an owner $50 if the lock ever needs to be changed for any reason.
- Postal addresses will not change, ie. there will be no Box number added to the mailing address.
- It is not USPS policy to put addresses on the outside of the CBU. Each box comes sequentially numbered. This is for homeowner identification only. It is not part of their address. Only the homeowner needs to know the location of their own box. The mail carrier will have information on the inside of each box for delivery purposes.
- One of the specifications is "CBUs should not be located on dead-end streets where there is no safe turnaround for Postal delivery vehicles." This may rule out the top of Lae St, but Cindy is checking to see if that is a possible location. Tests revealed that a small car (8.5' wheel base) can make the U-turn, but a small truck (11' wheel base) could not. It appears a serious traffic problem could arise if more than one vehicle attempted to retrieve mail at the same time in this location. Also, additional lighting would be required. I honestly cannot see the County ever approving this location.
- CBUs would likely be a beige or gray color.
- Each unit has a secure outgoing mail slot. No more red flag invitations for thieves. In the past month there have been mail thefts from curbside mailboxes in Wailuku, Makawao, and Haiku.
- Parcels would be placed in the parcel compartment of each unit. A key would be placed in the recipient's box for retrieval of the parcel. The key would be picked up from the box the next day.
- Parcels that don't fit in the parcel compartment would still be delivered to the houses.
- The KB drop box will not be affected. It has nothing to do with USPS.
- Pros for USPS: efficiency, security, reduced cost, less time required for delivery. The mail carriers would no longer have to negotiate our streets in fear of children jumping out from behind parked cars. The mail carrier would have to leave the vehicle only once.
- Pros for KB: NONE! It may be marginally more secure, but we don't have a problem in KB with mail theft, so the inconvenience far outweighs any benefit.
- Cons: not as convenient, mail pickup becomes another chore each day, the added distance may cause difficulty for old people, most people love home delivery and would be reluctant to give it up. Removing the requirement to keep the street clear by the mailboxes, could result in more cars being parked on the streets. Vandals & taggers could do a lot of repeated damage that would require costly repairs. CBUs would be one more asset for which the HOA would be responsible and have to hold money for in reserves.
- Care & Cleaning of Florence Mail Boxes
- CBU Information Packet for Builders & Developers
- CBU Specs & Installation
- CBU Images and Styles
- CBU Measurements Type 2
- CBU Measurements Type 3
- An Article about USPS CBU Conversion
- Example USPS letter sent to one neighborhood - probably what we would get if the law changed