SRO Personal Mailboxes Approved

by Rita Mandelenis on March 7, 2006

The ordinance sponsored by Supervisor Chris Daly to require Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotel owners to install individual mailboxes was approved by the Building Inspection Commission (BIC) yesterday, and will now face the Board of Supervisors. The ordinance, which Chief Housing Inspector Rosemary Bosque said she supports, will require a mail receptacle for each unit.

“This will go a long way to provide essential living conditions [in SROs],” said Bosque. Sam Dodge, Director of the SRO Collaborative, stated that in some instances hotel owners have installed the mailboxes on their own. But, later they run into problems with USPS to convert service. Some speculate it is because they may not want to hire more postal workers, but Dodge thinks they simply have different priorities.

“It is a disgrace to the city that we’re talking about [getting people] mailboxes in 2006,” said Dodge.

Dodge has seen first hand what lost mail can do to a population that is dependent on the USPS. Many who reside in SRO hotels receive a government check, making mail security and privacy of mail an essential for residents.

“This is a big victory just to be here,” said Dodge who helped write the ordinance.

Many SRO tenants were on hand to testify to the terrible treatment of their mail, and lack of privacy and respect.SRO resident Paul O’Brien, who testified at the BIC hearing, stated that on many occasions he had to request additional copies of his bills.

“It got so bad I had to get a P.O. Box,” said O’Brien.

A Mission district SRO resident said that he had finally received a Christmas gift last week after his buidling’s manager mistakenly kept it in his office for two months.

David Ho of the Chinese Community Development Center stated that 52 percent of SRO residents in Chinatown do not have a working mailbox. Many have to sort through mail on a table that is not secure.

One hotel owner was on hand to voice his concern, because he physically does not have the space in the lobby to install the mailboxes.

Bosque said that although it is a valid concern, she is worried that all owners will raise that issues. Hotel owners will have a right to appeal, and exceptions should be determined by a case by case basis. However, if hotels are incompliant they will receive a notice of violation.

The ordinance will now move on to committee, then to the Board of Supervisors.

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