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Cleanup begins at Earl B. Gilliam Post Office in Encanto

Community leaders said immediately after CBS 8 published the story, officials deployed crews to rake dead leaves, cut the grass and pick up the trash.

SAN DIEGO — Story update Sep. 16, 2022:

After this story aired on CBS 8, we can now report that clean up has begun on the Earl B. Gilliam Post Office in the Encanto neighborhood, named after the city’s first Black federal judge.

Community leaders said immediately after CBS 8 published the story, officials deployed crews to rake dead leaves, cut the grass and pick up the trash. 

Many residents reached out to CBS 8 to when the trash began piling up and graffiti began covering the exterior of the post office. Some residents said they stopped visiting the Earl B. Gilliam Post Office because of the conditions.

Original story Sep. 4, 2022:

CBS 8 has received concerns from residents about a post office located in the Encanto neighborhood, the Earl B. Gilliam Post Office, named after the city’s first Black federal judge.  

People are upset that the federal building is not up to par and have witnessed issues like trash, graffiti, and dead bushes.

For several years advocates and locals have spoken out about the lack of maintenance at the Encanto Post Office, many calling it an absolute insult to the person it was named after. 

Local post offices are meant to help with mail services like post office boxes, postage stamps and packaging, but besides the mail services they need to offer, these federal buildings should be meeting the standards when it comes to being audited for general maintenance. 

People who frequent the Earl B. Gilliam Post Office in Encanto said that is not the case for that building. 

Some advocates say under the recent management the landscaping and maintenance of the exterior building have been neglected. there should be special paint where graffiti can't stick. 

There are weeds all around the building and only one drive-through post office box is available. community members have been going outside of their neighborhood to mail items or do postal business because management does not care about this property. 

In a new report made by the Office of Inspector General for the United States Postal Service named the Encanto Post Office as one of the top to fail the facility condition audit.

“I have been complaining for years myself, just having conversations with staff members and the management and the leadership team there and to no avail. They might get the graffiti off but in a  different color, you can tell. I’m very upset about the foliage, these are plants that hardly need water,” said Francine Maxwell, who is part of NAACP in San Diego.

She has taken offense to the issues surrounding the post office, the building carries Earl B. Gilliam's name. 

Naming it after Gilliam was meant to honor the legacy he left behind and Maxwell says not keeping the building maintained is a sign of disrespect to his name and it's driving customers away.

“He brought a lot of people who weren’t interested in law to pursue a career in that industry,” said Maxwell. 

CBS 8 drove to the post office, witnessed the issues first hand and noticed the location of the post office makes the building almost hidden to the public.

It's also located next to an abandoned lot where several unsheltered people living in their vehicle park use it to park.

CBS 8 stood outside of the building for two hours and asked other customers about these issues.

“The service is great, but It's tucked away so people don’t even have the chance to know it’s here,” said Leila, who is a local and visits this facility.

CBS 8 even witnessed people using the parking lot as a place to ride their motorcycles, there was also trash near the only drive-thru mailbox.

We reached out to congressman Juan Vargas who is in charge of this district, he said “Our office was recently made aware of the issues concerning the Encanto Post Office. We are in contact with the United States Postal Service (USPS) Congressional Liaison’s Office to find a timely solution.” 

In a written statement, USPS told CBS 8:

We take a lot of pride in our postal facilities and make every possible effort to maintain them. That applies to our post office buildings as well as our grounds. 

The Encanto postal facility is visited regularly by a landscaping crew, which cleans up its grounds and attends to the trees and bushes on the property.

 The management team at Encanto responds to graffiti and other building maintenance issues as soon as possible, by arranging for timely repainting, repair and clean up, as needed.

In fact, we recently spent $3,000 to spruce up our Encanto building and grounds.The city road leading onto our postal property has recently been occupied by the cars of houseless citizens. And, a city-owned plot of land adjacent to our property has recently had issues with illegal dumping. But, neither of these issues are within our authority to address. 

We do our best to be good neighbors to the city by regularly reporting the above issues to local law enforcement and the city’s environmental services department.Regarding the drive-through blue USPS mail boxes at Encanto, one of the two boxes was removed a couple of years ago when it was damaged in a vandalism incident. 

It was not replaced because it was determined that one box was adequate to handle the volume of mail dropped off in the drive-through lanes at Encanto. 

We appreciate hearing the concerns of our customers and community leaders. We will respond to the current concerns by making an immediate effort to prioritize the landscaping and appearance of our Encanto facility.

Do you have a story idea you'd like to share with CBS 8? We're Working For You, click here.

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