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a mailbox with zip code imprintedZIP it

Mama, don't take my prestigious coastal postal code away!

NOT SINCE BEVERLY HILLS 90210 has there been so much ado over ZIP codes.

In Carlsbad, Lori Martin is losing her ZIP code this month, and she’s none too happy about it. Come June 27, Martin and hundreds of her neighbors in the tony hillside enclave known as the Golden Triangle will be stripped of the prestigious 92008 ZIP code they’ve always shared with the rest of north Carlsbad, all the way to the ocean.

They’re getting a new ZIP code, 92010, which begins at the Golden Triangle’s western edge, El Camino Real, and includes thousands of new tract homes that have been built in the past few years on small lots in the community of Calavara Hills, which butts up against Oceanside.

Martin’s frustration is all about image, she concedes. The 92008 ZIP code has long been synonymous with Olde Carlsbad, “this small, quaint, charming community by the sea—and I don’t want that to change,” she says.

Furthermore, Martin says, most of Carlsbad’s new growth is occurring in the southern part of the city, which already has its own ZIP code, 92009. “We’re practically built out, so why do we have to change?” she asks. “All the new homes and condominiums are going up in the south, and a lot of people are upset because they feel the city is overdeveloping that area. Why don’t they change? Our image is important to me.”

Michael Cannone, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in San Diego, says the ZIP code change is a function of automation and growth. Mail is now sorted not just by the five-digit ZIP code but also by four additional digits unique to an individual building, part of a block or a whole block, he says. Once you get more than 9,999 ZIP + 4 codes, a new ZIP code needs to be introduced.

“In north Carlsbad, we’re just running out of ZIP + 4 codes,” Cannone says. He notes the southern portion of the city, south of Palomar Airport Road, also is due for a split, with addresses east of El Camino Real getting a new code, 92011.

Meanwhile, another ZIP code brouhaha is brewing in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, the coastal community south of Carlsbad that in the late 1990s became part of the incorporated city of Encinitas.

Several Cardiff residents whose homes have an Encinitas ZIP code, 92024, have petitioned the U.S. Postal Service to change their codes to 92007, the traditional Cardiff ZIP code. They maintain Cardiff real estate is pricier than Encinitas real estate and say their town has better public schools, to boot.

The drive for a better ZIP code incurred the wrath of The San Diego Union-Tribune, which in an editorial blasted the Cardiff crew as elitist. “Cardiff residents want their own ZIP code to distinguish their upscale community from not-so-upscale Encinitas,” the paper wrote. “That’s probably not reason enough for the U.S. Postal Service to comply. And 90210 is already taken. But it’s one way to ‘gate’ a community, to connote its exclusivity, without actually erecting the Great Wall of Cardiff.”

Cannone has little sympathy for the ZIP code–envious residents of either Carlsbad or Cardiff. Wanting a different ZIP code purely for the sake of image “doesn’t fly too well with us,” he says. “There have been many instances in which folks prefer different ZIP codes for financial or other reasons, from perceived property values to schools, and that’s just one place we don’t want to go. We look at ZIP codes as something that helps the Postal Service be more efficient in delivering mail, period.”

He says North County, with its rapid population growth, can almost certainly expect more ZIP code splits in the future. Indeed, the two latest splits in San Diego both were in North County, affecting San Marcos in June 2004 and Vista, in June 2003.

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