Friday, Aug. 20, 2004 | 9:43 a.m.
Homeowner associations and home builders won't be in charge of maintenance of key distribution for "cluster" mailboxes under a plan struck between the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association and the U.S. Postal Service in Las Vegas.
The deal comes after almost two years of disagreements between the two groups regarding cluster mailboxes -- sometimes called gang boxes or collective box units -- and who was in charge of their installation, maintenance and key distribution.
Under the new plan, home builders will now install cluster mailboxes and the Postal Service will remain in charge of maintenance and key distribution at new home communities. Prior to the agreement, the Postal Service installed cluster mailboxes and distributed keys.
Mail will be delivered to new houses when construction of the community allows the Postal Service worker and Postal Service vehicles to enter the sites without undo risk.
A flier, which is being drafted by a task force made up of Postal Service and association members, will be included in new homebuyer packets. Among other things, the flier will explain where homeowners can obtain their keys and when mail will start to be delivered at the new home communities.
Roger Wagner, Postal Service spokesman, said the flier is likely to be finalized at a task force meeting scheduled for later this month.
"A lot of people think they can just start living in their house and we know and we'll start delivering mail," he said.
The resolution comes after local home builders, through their association, rejected a push by the Postal Service to put the builders, and homeowner associations, in charge of key distribution, mailbox installation and maintenance in new home subdivisions. At the time many builders and police were concerned about putting private companies and homeowner associations in charge of the access to mail.
Area police departments were concerned because of the opportunity for identity theft.
"We drew a line in the sand that we're not doing people's mail. Mail is a personal and private issue for people," Monica Caruso, the home builders association spokeswoman, said. "Think of the nightmare if the president of your HOA was in charge of people's mail."
The Postal Service maintains that the expense to install mailboxes and distribute keys was a growing burden and that some builders actually wanted to give out mailbox keys with the new home keys.
Caruso said a small number of builders did end up distributing mail keys to homeowners, but only after some new homeowners were allegedly stonewalled by the Postal Service as to where to get their mail and who was in charge of key distribution.
"The U.S. Postal Service has always been in charge of the keys," Caruso said. "What happened is there was a minimum number of home builders who said 'let's get keys out to homeowners' in frustration, under protest, and then they got (the association) involved."
Wagner said growth in the valley is a huge issue for the post office and it is simply trying to find ways to address it.
"Based on the history being confusing and upsetting to some people, we've found it's just more efficient this way," he said. "Especially in this day and age, we want to have control of the keys and who gets them."
Caruso said the two sides are working together now.
"Hopefully it will end the confusion and the misunderstanding," she said.
A version of this story appeared today in In Business Las Vegas, a sister publication of the Sun.