City continues fight for new ZIP code

June 5, 2009

By Staff

City officials are once again waging an effort to have a ZIP code for the city. Since the city incorporated in 1994, the U.S. Postal Service has twice denied Newcastle its own ZIP code. Newcastle is assigned two ZIP codes that are assigned to Renton — 98056 and 98059.

City officials are asking residents to take a survey about their experiences with local ZIP codes.

“We heard from a resident who had a car problem and needed a tow truck,” City Manager John Starbard said in a news release. “The stranded motorist told the dispatcher she was in Newcastle and provided her the 98059 ZIP code, but the dispatcher said she couldn’t send help to an unknown location. It was as if the driver was somewhere that didn’t exist.”

City officials make their cases for having a unique ZIP code, the postal service reviews the requests at the Seattle office and if the request merits further review, it is sent to Washington, D.C., said U.S. Postal Service spokesman Ernie Swanson.

“Newcastle has applied in the past, but the justification wasn’t there for a new ZIP code from our local people,” Swanson said of the postal authorities in the Seattle office. 

City officials say some computers don’t recognize Newcastle addresses and that the city is losing sales tax revenue to Renton. When out-of-town or out-of-state deliveries are shipped to Newcastle, many companies use only the five-digit ZIP code to forward sales tax dollars instead of using the complete street address. 

“The survey we’re asking residents to take will address many of the problems they face on a daily basis because of the ZIP code issue,” Starbard said in the release. “By sharing their experiences and frustration with the postal service, we hope the outcome will be favorable this time around.”

The ZIP code is a system of postal codes used by the U.S. Postal Service. The letters ZIP, an acronym for Zone Improvement Plan, are written in capital letters and were selected to suggest that the mail travels more efficiently and, therefore, more quickly, when senders use the code. The postal service began the code in large cities in 1943 and nationwide in 1963. 

Swanson said some cities look to creating ZIP codes as a means of forging an identity for the city.

“We are still sufficiently meeting the needs of effectively delivering mail in Newcastle,” Swanson said. “At this time, everything is working fine from our standpoint, so it’s been turned down.”

Mayor Ben Varon said the issue of acquiring a ZIP code for Newcastle is not new and in the past the city has lobbied for a ZIP code with officials in Washington, D.C. 

“What brings new light to the issue is the loss of potential sales tax revenue from the streamlined sales tax, because we don’t have an individual ZIP code dedicated to us,” Varon said. “The survey is a vehicle to enhance our argument that it’s not just the city of Newcastle that wants a ZIP code, but our citizens who want it.”


What to know

City officials are conducting a survey regarding the city’s lack of its own ZIP code. Take it online at Copies of the survey are also available at City Hall, 13020 Newcastle Way.

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