Among the many mysterious curiosities within the Presidio is the cause of the long lines at its tiny outpost of the United States Postal Service. The Presidio post office shares an historic building at the Presidio Main Post with a small branch of First Republic Bank. The Presidio post office is very popular on the North end of town because it offers the rarest of urban amenities: free and plentiful parking.
But it lacks an Automated Postal Center, the machine the USPS installed at 17 of the city’s 41 post offices a few years back to allow customers to mail packages and conduct most other business without having to wait for a clerk. Post offices without the APCs require most business to be handled by a clerk.
Matters at the Presidio post office grew worse last month, when its stamp-vending machine was hauled away. Dust bunnies still sit on the historic wood-plank floor where the stamp machine once sat.
James Wigdel, the USPS spokesman for San Francisco, said that stamp-vending machines are being removed from every post office in the nation because they are old and hard to maintain. And if a post office is not already one of the few that has an APC, Wigdel said, it will never get one, since the machines are not being manufactured any more.
As a general matter, said Widgel, “What we encourage is for customers not to go to the post office. We are trying to embrace the future and encourage people to use USPS.com,” where customers can print out postage and schedule package pickups. “The green thing,” Wigdel concluded, “is not to go to the post office at all.