Federal, State, & Municipal statutes / regulations
pertaining to Mail Box placement
The Postal Operations Manual (a manual through which USPS-related Federal Code and Regulations are published) speaks somewhat to location of post boxes with regard to cluster mailboxes or “collection box units” as follows:
631.441 Delivery Requirements
NDCBUs [Neighborhood Delivery Collection Box Units] or CBUs [Collection Box Units] may be approved for use at one or more central delivery points in a residential housing community. The local postal manager must approve the mailbox sites and type of equipment. Boxes must be safely located so that customers are not required to travel an unreasonable distance to obtain their mail. Normally, within one block of the residence is appropriate [emphasis added].
It would appear that the location of CBUs must be approved through the local postmaster. This does not speak, however, to whether the Municipality has the authority to arrange with the postmaster regarding location of a CBU over the objections of mail recipients.
USPS would presumably defer location of CBUs to local authorities, so long as the mailbox is not an “unreasonable distance” from the recipient’s residence.
Federal law speaks generally to the needs of recipients with physical disabilities as follows:
39 USC § 255.7 Special arrangements for postal services.
Members of the public who are unable to use or who have difficulty using certain postal services may be eligible under postal regulations for special arrangements. Some of the special arrangements that the Postal Service has authorized are listed below. No one is required to use any special arrangement offered by the Postal Service, but an individual’s refusal to make use of a particular special arrangement does not require the Postal Service to offer other special arrangements to that individual.
(a) The Postal Operations Manual offers information on special arrangements for the following postal services: (1) Carrier delivery services and programs.
The special arrangement for carrier delivery services mentioned above is provided in the Postal Operations Manual as follows:
631.42 Hardship Cases
Procedures and guidelines for changes in delivery in hardship cases are as
a. Changes in the mode of delivery authorized for a delivery point are considered where service by existing methods would impose an extreme physical hardship on an individual customer. Any request for a change in delivery mode must be submitted in writing.
b. Approval of these requests should be based on humanitarian and not economic criteria; however, rural delivery customers requesting a hardship extension must also meet current criteria for extension of rural delivery service (see 653). Each request for a change in delivery service should be evaluated based on the customer’s needs; a request should not be denied solely because of increased operational costs or
because a family member or other party may be available to receive mail for the customer.
c. If the local postmaster denies a request, the request must be sent to the district for review. The final decision is made by the district manager.
d. If a customer no longer requires a variation in the type of delivery service, mail service must be restored to the mode of delivery in effect in the area.
It appears that if one or more of the recipients effected by the location of the CBU suffers a physical disability, that recipient may be able to petition the local postmaster for a change in the mode of delivery.
No state statutes or municipal codes directly address placement of mailboxes.
Federal regulation under 39 CFR § 111.1 incorporates the policies published in the “Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual,” in to the Code of Federal Regulations as follows:
Section 552(a) of Title 5, U.S.C., relating to the public information requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, provides in pertinent part that “ … matter reasonably available to the class of persons affected thereby is deemed published in the Federal Register when incorporated by reference therin with the approval of the Director of the Federal Register.” In conformity with that provision, and with 39 U.S.C. section 410(b)(1), and as provided in this part, the U.S. Postal Service hereby incorporates by reference in this part, the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual, a looseleaf document published and maintained by the Postal Service [emphasis added].
The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) provides general guidelines as to residential curb-side mail receptacles in Section 506.3.2.6 as follows:
Subject to state laws and regulations, a curbside mailbox must be placed to allow safe and convenient delivery by carriers without leaving their vehicles. The box must be on the right-hand side of the road in the direction of travel of the carriers on any new rural route or highway contract route, in all cases where traffic conditions are dangerous for the carriers to drive to the left to reach the box, or where their doing so would violate traffic laws and regulations [emphasis added].
Although the Postal Service mandates certain general location parameters, its policy appears to leave the specifics of curbside mailbox placement to the authority of state laws and regulations. AS 29.40 delegates to municipalities the authority to establish land use regulations for areas within municipal boundaries.
Although Anchorage Municipal Code contains no specific edict regarding curb-side mailbox location, Section 25.10.060 establishes the authority of the overriding authority of the Municipality on public lands as follows:
- The municipality shall use municipal land in any manner not prohibited by law.
- Except as otherwise provided by law, and in addition to all other municipal powers, the municipality shall exercise the same control over municipal land and its use as it could if it held the land as a private person.
To the extent that residential curb-side mailboxes are located on a public right-of-way or street, as most are, it appears that the Municipality is granted, through the series of delegations of legal authority outlined above, to determine the precise location of residential mailboxes.