VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 52   |  DECEMBER 28, 2011 – JANUARY 3, 2012


USPS denies Cave Creek Zip Code request

Thinking outside the post office box

mr zipCAVE CREEK – The United States Postal Service (USPS) recently denied Cave Creek’s request for a unique Zip Code.

When dealing with government, we’ve learned requests need to be very specific, as there is apparently no thinking outside the box to address concerns.

Perhaps the town acted hastily in making its request to the USPS for a unique Zip Code to include only addresses within the boundaries of Cave Creek, without better analyzing and suggesting options to achieve that goal in a no-cost manner.

When a similar request was made several years ago by former Councilwoman Kim Brennan to the Cave Creek Postmaster, although the wrong person to address such requests, he responded by telling council the USPS could only build a new post office when it grew past 10,000 addresses.

No one asked for a new post office or for the current post office to only service the town of Cave Creek.  

In July 2011, the town passed a resolution to bolster its request to USPS Arizona District Manager Lawrence James, the appropriate party for making such requests, asking that the USPS “initiate its Zip Code Boundary Review Process for changing the existing 85331 Zip Code to include only that property within the 40-mile area within the town of Cave Creek municipal limits.”

In a letter dated Dec. 16, James responded: “Mail delivery addresses differing from geographic or community name is common. As new housing developments emerge, political jurisdictions expand, or areas incorporate into separate communities, delivery is extended from a nearby established post office. The post office is most suitable to accommodate the new territory. As a result, many communities have mail delivered from a post office with several community names.

“Currently, the postal boundary assigned to service Cave Creek encompasses approximately 58 square miles, including all of the town of Cave Creek, Maricopa County islands and nearly eight square miles of the city of Phoenix. The request, if approved, would mandate that the areas that do not fall within the town’s boundaries change their Zip Code prefix from 853 to 850 and be delivered by the closest Phoenix post office, which is Boulder Hills, located at 2550 E. Rose Garden Ln. Approximately 28 delivery routes would be moved from the Cave Creek Post Office to the Boulder Hills Post Office. This would increase postal operations expense.”

James goes on to say, “Zip Codes were created for the sole purpose of moving and delivering the mail in the most efficient and cost effective manner,” and the USPS generally does not support Zip Code changes if the change would result in increased expenses.

He said, “It has been determined that the change requested by the Town of Cave Creek would increase expenses and, due to current budgetary constraints, the request for a Zip Code change cannot be approved at this time.”

According to Councilman Dick Esser, who helped put the request together, the town is not currently planning to appeal the USPS’s decision.

However, if the town does decide to pursue the Zip Code issue in the future, and the USPS is still around, it might want to consider rephrasing its request.

The request might instead ask to add another Zip Code, one that only included properties within the Cave Creek municipal boundaries, rather than have all the other municipalities currently serviced by the Cave Creek Post Office change their Zip Code and post office.

The change would simply add a new Zip Code just like the 85327 Zip Code, which was added many years ago for Cave Creek Post Office box addresses.

Adding another Zip Code would affect only a minimal number of residents and businesses that receive mail carrier service within the town of Cave Creek.

There would be no need to change anyone’s post office or carrier route, which would mean there would be no expense involved in adding a new Zip Code that would apply only to mail delivered through the Cave Creek Annex Station.

A little thinking outside the USPS box provides a no-cost solution to isolate Cave Creek with two Zip Codes – 85327 for post office box holders and a new number for those with carrier service within the municipal boundaries.