Queen Creek is making a last-ditch effort to get back its old ZIP code, saying the change has made it even harder for people to figure out what is and isn’t part of the community.
The town is now asking residents to protest the ZIP code change with their congressional representatives after nearly a year of appeals to the United States Postal Service have gone nowhere.
People in the area have had trouble knowing what Queen Creek’s boundaries are since the town incorporated in 1989, spokeswoman Dee Ann Thomas said. Things got worse in July, when the postal service changed 85242 to 85142, she said.
The 851- prefix is common to Pinal County and its nearby unincorporated communities, while Queen Creek is mostly in Maricopa County. “There’s a lot of confusion by the residents about who lives in the town or who lives outside the town,” Thomas said.
A new link on the town web site encourages residents to contact Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, as well as U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake.
Thomas said she can’t predict if the campaign will make difference but said town officials wanted to make another push after hearing many residents are still upset with a change that began last July 1.
A one-year grace period ends this July 1. Mail sent from out of the area could have trouble getting through with the old ZIP code after that, said Peter Hass, a postal service spokesman for Arizona.
“There’s a chance that mail would be returned to sender,” Hass said.
The ZIP code is about more than mail delivery, Thomas said.
Real estate agents, businesses and homeowners sometimes assume property is in Queen Creek because of the mailing address, only to discover that’s not the case.
Residents from outside have become frustrated when they go to vote in town elections or get on a commission only to be told they’re not eligible, Thomas said.
Property values, insurance rates and other databases often rely on ZIP code designations.
The new ZIP code makes it harder to distinguish Queen Creek from Johnson Ranch or San Tan Valley, said Cherie Richardson, who has collected hundred of signatures opposing the change.
“They don’t want to be identified with us any more than we want to be identified with them,” Richardson said. “It’s kind of like the northern California-southern California thing.”
The postal service acknowledges the confusion but said the ZIP codes aren’t designed to follow city boundaries and help define communities. The zip codes are designed for the most efficient way to get letters delivered, he said.
“Obviously the postal service has nothing to do with those ancillary purposes,” he said.
It’s easy to get confused – in part because of how the postal service requires mail to be addressed, Thomas said.
“When people live in those areas write street addresses, the last line is ‘Queen Creek, Arizona’, when it’s really not in the town of Queen Creek,” she said.