Recently, our office ran into something of a unique situation. In June 2016, we merged with our local competitor Creative California. As we went through the process of merging our staff, it only became logical for us to cohabitate, and we shifted our local staff over to their office, and leased the adjoining offices in order to properly accommodate the combined staff.
However, this presented something of a complication when it came to our mailing addresses. We wanted to ensure that the two brands, Creative California and Post Modern Marketing, retained the local cachet they had built up over the years, and so they needed to retain their disparate physical presences. In short, Creative California was located at Suite #200, so we would locate the office at Suite #250.
We informed our clients of the address change, had the post office redirect our mail, and then settled into our new office. Easy, right?
And then our clients started calling, saying that the mail they were sending to our new address was being returned to them, marked “Return to Sender / Attempted – Not Known / Unable to Forward.”
And when we looked more closely at mail that had been addressed to our old office and been successfully redirected to our new office, we discovered that it indicated that our new office suite number was actually #200, Creative California’s suite number.
This was the beginning of a complicated, months-long soirée with the U.S. Postal Service and the City of Sacramento Planning Department. While it’s been a source of great annoyance for us, our loss is your gain.
If you’d like to find out how to request a new office suite number for your business, we’re the experts. But first, let’s start with identifying the problem.
As it turns out, when a new building is constructed, it isn’t the local post office that assigns an address—it’s actually the local city or county planning department. To obtain an address number, the property owner has to submit an address request form to the planning department, along with a site plan. In the case of a multi-suite building, such as an office building, they must include a floor plan which shows each individual suite, and indicates the range of suite numbers that they would like to use.
Once this has been approved, the planning department adds the new address and suite information to their database, which is used by the Postal Service and other carriers to ensure that the addresses indicated on mail and packages actually exist and are properly formatted. So when you’re trying to enter an address on FedEx’s site and you get a pop-up asking if you actually mean this other, slightly differently formatted address, this information is being pulled from the local planning department that governs the area in which that address is located.
So, here was our problem. The original owners of our building requested the use of suite numbers ranging from 100 to 200. So when we attempted to locate our office at Suite #250, this conflicted with the range of suite numbers allowed by the Sacramento Planning Department. Thus, when the U.S. Postal Service and other delivery services processed mailing bearing that address, the databases they used flagged the address as being invalid, and thus the mail was returned to the sender.
When we contacted the U.S. Postal Service, they indicated to us that we had to call the local planning department. And when we did that, they told us to talk to the post office. But eventually, we found the solution.
As it turns out—as noted above—it’s the local city/county planning department that handles the assignment of address numbers and suite numbers.
For businesses in Sacramento, in order to add a new suite number outside of the allowed range of suite numbers, you must submit CDD-0104, Address Request Form, to the City of Sacramento Community Development office. If you’re a lessee, then you must also submit CDD-0204, Agent for Owner Authorization Form, which indicates that you have permission from the property owner to make the request. (Check with your local planning department for the corresponding form or forms.)
However, that’s the easy part. Remember how we mentioned that when a new building is constructed, a site plan—which shows the entire parcel of land the building is on and indicates the parcel number—and building plan have to be submitted? Well, in order to add a new suite number (or range of suite numbers), you must submit new site and floor plans.
While this is an annoying expense, plans for Sacramento businesses do not have to be marked with an official architect’s seal or stamp, so you can hire an amateur to draw the plans up, as long as they know what they’re doing (check with your local office).
But, after you have submitted all of this information, you will—finally!—be able to claim your desired suite number, and have your mail actually show up to your office!
Sorting out this process required a great deal of time and effort on our part (or more specifically, the part of our office manager Emily), as there was no information available online as to how to handle this. So we’re posting this explanation in the hopes that the next business that runs into this problem doesn’t have to go through the painstaking investigative process that we did. If this helps you, please let us know!