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Zip code change DOA
Postal patrons living north of Hatch Road have decided they want to continue having a Modesto mailing address even though they live in the city of Ceres or its sphere of influence.

Of the 1,182 returned ballots that could be counted (1,099), the vote went 429 "yes" to switch from Modesto 95351 to Ceres 95307 and 753 who voted "no."

"We're disappointed, especially after counting ballots for the last five hours," said Betina McCoy, assistant to the city manager.

The matter of changing the zip code cannot be revisited for another 10 years. A similar attempt failed in 1994.

The postal service sent out 3,511 ballots and only 1194, or 37 percent, were returned.

Voting started at 9 a.m. and wrapped up by 3 p.m., with McCoy and post office address management specialist Debra Scoggins.

It was apparent that some were confused over a relatively simple ballot.

"Oh great," said McCoy, who took an early peek at one of the ballots. "This person said 'It's time for a change' but they voted 'no.' "

Another ballot was marked, "Thanks for doing this" and then checked "no."

Both counted as a "no" despite what the intent may have been.

One woman checked "no" and commented that she didn't want her utilities changed. The zip code change would not have done that.

Scoggins, who worked on zip code changes in Carmichael, Davis, Atwater, Winton, Merced and Fresno, said she's learned that zip code issues are "personal" to many. She scoffed at the notion that a zip code change is a hassle for residents. She said that whenever a zip code is changed, the post office and government agencies automatically make the change on records.

"People don't like change," said Scoggins.

The attempt to change the zip code north of Hatch Road between Mitchell Road and Herndon Road and between Hatch Road, was conducted by the city. Ceres officials say the Modesto zip code may have made sense when the area north of Hatch Road was in county jurisdiction but not that most of the area was annexed to the city of Ceres. The area will never be part of Modesto city limits because the city has included it in its sphere of influence.

Patrons felt otherwise.

The actual vote count was way off from a city-conducted mail survey done last May. Of the 20 percent of surveys that came back, patrons were split 50-50, said McCoy.

Since the ballot measure failed, those living north of Hatch Road will continue to have to drive to the Paradise Road post office to pick up mail needing a certified letters and packages. A change would have required mail delivery out of the Ceres post office much closer to the area.

City officials desired the change to eliminate confusion for city residents who routinely call the city of Modesto for service. They say the Modesto zip code fools many into thinking they're Modesto residents when they're actually Ceres taxpayers.

Mayor Anthony Cannella favored the change saying that from a "philosophical standpoint, we live in the city of Ceres. We don't live in Modesto and I think just for civic pride I want to have Ceres, California 95307 on my address versus Modesto. We live in Ceres and we should be called Ceres."