In U.S. Postal Service Zip code 85743, 59 percent of all addresses are within the town limits of Marana.
Yet it's a "Tucson" Zip code, as designated by the Postal Service.
Marana wants to change that name assignment. Last Tuesday, the town council agreed with a recommendation from staff to petition the Postal Service for a name change, so that 85743 becomes a "Marana" Zip, with Tucson as an accepted alternative.
"The problem is not the Zip code itself, but the city name assigned to the Zip code," said Josh Wright, the city staff member who made the presentation on Zip codes to the town council.
The subject of Zip codes has "a long history in our community," Wright said.
Parts of Marana are within seven different Zip codes. Three of those Zip codes – 85741, 85742 and 85743 – are served by the same post office, the Tucson Mountain Post Office along Thornydale just south of Magee. All were designated as "Tucson" Zip codes prior to Marana annexations.
"In these three Zip codes, Marana is really a large player," Wright said. "That's probably what's most concerning about the fact they're all labeled as Tucson."
Ninety-five percent of the addresses in 85741 are in unincorporated Pima County. In 85742, 12 percent of the addresses are in Marana, 2 percent in Oro Valley, and none in Tucson, "yet that's how it's labeled," he said. In 85743, 59 percent of the addresses are in Marana, including the major residential development Continental Ranch and the Arizona Pavilions commercial development. Fewer than 1 percent of the addresses are in Tucson, but it's a Tucson Zip code.
When someone addresses a piece of mail to an address in "Marana, 85743," there are sometimes delays and failures in mail delivery. The city name causes some insurance premium and voter confusion, some incorrect sales tax remittance and liquor license assignment, Wright said. But the biggest effect, he said, is the "lack of a Marana identity among residents and businesses."
"It's hard to build a community of people when they don't even know they're a part of that community," Wright said.
He detailed the U.S. Postal Service process to change the town name assigned to a Zip code. The town could change its name, it could ask the Postal Service to realign its Zip boundaries to mirror municipal boundaries, or it could ask the Post Office to accept alternative city names.
That's the recommended course of action. Marana will ask the Postal Service to designate Marana as the primary city name in 85743, with Tucson as an acceptable alternative. Legal addresses in that Zip code would be "Marana, Az., 85743."
"It made sense to call it 'Marana,' in our opinion," Mayor Ed Honea said. "Most of the growth in 85743 is going to be in Marana. In 10 years, it'll be 70, 75 percent."
The town will also ask the Postal Service to add Marana as an accepted alternative name in 85741. Mail addressed to "Marana, 85741," would be processed, as would mail to "Tucson, 85741."
No action would be taken on 85742. "It's still a developing area," Honea said.
Each of the requests is considered separately by the Postal Service's district manager in Phoenix. Those requests must be submitted to the Postal Service by Nov. 15. If the requests are accepted, the Postal Service would send a one-page survey to residents about the proposal. If a simple majority of survey respondents agrees, the Postal Service accepts the request, and the change would take effect July 1. If the requests are rejected, the addresses remain as they are. Marana could appeal those decisions.
Regardless, the town cannot submit additional requests for changes to those Zip codes for 10 years.
"That's the other reason we'd like to leave 85742 on the back burner for now," Honea said.
"I'm concerned we have a short time window" to educate the community, Councilman Russell Clanagan said.
"This isn't brain surgery," Councilwoman Roxanne Ziegler said. "If it says 'Marana' or 'Tucson' there, you're still going to get your mail.
"I'm glad you're doing this; it's been a long time coming," Ziegler told the staff.