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Forever SMRR

by Rufus Baker, SMRR member

Next time you mail a first-class letter (and we all still do, even if less often), consider the very real connection between SMRR and the “forever” U.S. postage stamps.

When I first came to Santa Monica in 1959, our two bedroom northside apartment rent was $65 a month. And postage was 3¢ for cards, 4¢ for letters.

Over time, first-class stamp rates went up, to 5¢, 6¢, 8¢, 11¢, 18¢ – and from there I lost track. It always was a nuisance to stand in line at the post office to buy a roll of 3¢ stamps to bring our postage up to date – or worse, put two of the old stamps on an envelope.

Here comes the SMRR connection.

In 1979, the year that Santa Monica voters approved rent control, Ruth Yannatta was elected as a SMRR councilmember. In the 1980s, as Ruth Yannatta Goldway, she became Santa Monica mayor and a powerful voice for renters’ rights.

Later, she was appointed to the Postal Regulatory Commission. While there, Ruth had the brilliant idea of issuing “forever” stamps so postage of old denominations still could be used when rates went up without the inconvenience or expense of buying extra stamps or doubling old ones.

So all of us who buy stamps and mail letters benefit from the ideas of SMRR as applied to the U.S. Post Office. Hurrah!