Kokua Line
June Watanabe

Parked cars won’t
prevent mail delivery

Question: What is the law on parking next to a mailbox in a residential area? We have been warned by the post person that it is the homeowner's responsibility to tell the person owning the car to move it or no mail will be delivered. However, we do not know who it belongs to. Also, there are no signs that say "no parking" or red curbs, etc., so what do we do?

Answer: There is no city, state or federal law that restricts parking next to a mailbox, according to the Honolulu Police Department and U.S. Postal Service.

The Postal Service's Domestic Mail Manual does say delivery may not happen if a carrier is impeded in any way in reaching a mailbox, whether by a vehicle, trash or aggressive dog.

However, you'll be happy to learn that the Postal Service, under Honolulu Postmaster Frank Santos, is taking a more customer-friendly attitude on this matter.

Coincidentally, a memo was sent out to all carriers a few weeks ago, instructing them to deliver the mail even if a mailbox may be blocked by a vehicle, said Santos, who took over as postmaster last November.

Previously (Kokua Line, Dec. 10, 2002), we were told that if mail carriers -- whether driving or on foot -- are impeded in any way in reaching a mail box, "the postmaster may withdraw delivery service."

Santos noted that the delivery manual specifically says: "On a curbline delivery route, the carrier must serve the mailbox without leaving the vehicle, except to collect postage due, obtain payment or signature for special services mail, to deliver a parcel too large for the box, or to serve a box temporarily blocked."

So "normally," a carrier should be able to reach a mailbox from his or her vehicle, he said.

Carriers are supposed to notify customers when their mailboxes are blocked.

"But even if it is blocked, we are still obligated to deliver the mail," Santos said, taking the view that the mailbox should be considered only temporarily blocked.

The conflict comes when the vehicle "doesn't belong to the customer we're servicing" and can't be controlled by the customer, he said.

But, "We'll try to find a resolution at that point."

One solution, for recurring problems, is to move the mailbox, such as to the driveway.

"The bottom line is that we do not want to penalize the person who is supposed to get their mail delivered there," Santos said.

Q: The other year the Honolulu Police Department did free VIN (vehicle identification number) etching in various communities. I've been watching for the event again since we now have a vehicle without the etching. Any idea when the service will be offered again?

A: HPD periodically offers the free etching (see Kokua Line, Feb. 27, 2005) and hopes to do so again within the next couple of months, a spokeswoman said.

She advised checking the HPD Web site -- www.honolulupd.org -- for an announcement.


See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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