Letters to the Editor

Census bureau made a mistake | Federal Way letters

I was pleased to receive a letter yesterday from the U.S. Commerce Department, alerting me to the upcoming Census and the information request that would be mailed to my home.

But I was displeased to see that the letter was addressed to my Federal Way home (where I have lived for 23 years) with a 98003 ZIP code that read Auburn, WA. Obviously, neither the U.S. Commerce Department nor the U.S. Post Office knows that ZIP code 98003 is for the city of Federal Way that was incorporated 20 years ago.

I called the automated USPS ZIP code telephone line. My address was correctly identified as Federal Way. However, when I spoke to someone on the “help line” saying I only had a ZIP code and needed a city, I was told that ZIP code 98003 is “Federal Way….also known as Auburn.” I told her that was incorrect, and has been for 20 years. I asked how a correction could be made. She told me that would be handled by county government. Therefore, a copy of this letter will go to our King County Council representative, Pete von Reichbauer.

Then I wondered what other government agencies have this misinformation? Does this mean that according to the Post Office and the Commerce Departments, Federal Way does not exist if sharing of funds, legislative representation or other government benefits would be determined and distributed based on ZIP codes? How can this mistake be corrected on a federal level?

I am sending copies of this letter to Federal Way City Manager Brian Wilson; Olympia legislators State Sen. Tracey Eide and State Reps. Skip Priest and Mark Miloscia; Washington, D.C., legislators Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Rep. Adam Smith; and former King County Executive and Washington State Governor Gary Locke, who is now Secretary of the U.S. Commerce Department. I hope that one of these legislators or Secretary Locke will be able to answer my questions and correct this mistake before Federal Way loses any government benefits based on erroneous ZIP code data on Census documents.

Mirror readers and all Federal Way residents who receive a census form in the mail can also help by doing what I will do: If my mailing address shows a 98003 ZIP code with Auburn as the city of residence, then I will cross out “Auburn” and write in “Federal Way.”

That will help us to be counted accurately and get us our fair share of government funding or legislative representation at all levels.

H. David Kaplan, Federal Way

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