Has your package not been delivered? Try living at LA's '½' addresses

Casey Hogan had no idea her new address would be so frustrating.

But shortly after moving into a granny flat in Van Nuys three years ago, she realized that the break in her house number — think: 101 ½ Main St. — would be especially troublesome in an era of constant deliveries.

Her packages are marked as 'address not available' or delivered to the wrong door. Retail websites that are programmed to reject special characters, including the slash of the fraction, sometimes reject or automatically correct her shipping address to a different location.

She has tried solutions to this oddity of Los Angeles geography – most common in dense neighborhoods of duplexes or, as in Hogan's case, in outbuildings built on pre-existing properties. Spelling the fraction as “half” has helped, but about a quarter of her packages or food deliveries arrive late or are delivered to someone else's home.

In the case of a particularly urgent order before a flight, she had Amazon deliver a pet carrier to her mother's house in Oceanside and drove there to pick it up rather than risk a negative at her home.

“It's still a nightmare,” said Hogan, 32, who works as a medical writer. “Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.”

In the increasingly deliverable world shaped by consumers' sky-high, post-pandemic expectations for almost everything they want or need to arrive quickly and seamlessly in their homes, residents of more than 60,000 Los Angeles addresses, such as that of Hogan, left on the sidelines. (Or actually: standing on their doorstep, endlessly searching for packages.)

The shared discomfort grew into one community on Redditwhere people exchange tips, such as entering the address as a decimal — 101.5 Main Street — or writing it out like Hogan does. One person made a more drastic suggestion: “Go broke and buy a PO Box.”

Dealing with partial addresses and other tricky deliveries, such as those behind fences, is as frustrating — and costly — for retailers, logistics experts say, as it is for shipping companies that move more than 58 million packages a day in the United States.

According to a report, the average American received about 70% more packages in 2022 than in 2017. Capital One shopping research report. And a recent survey of 300 retail executives by location data company Loqate found it That nearly 8% of first shipments in the US failed, costing about $17 per failed order – or about $200,000 per year.

Fractional addresses are sometimes written with slashes and sometimes with decimals—or, as in this East Hollywood home, both.

(Marisa Gerber/Los Angeles Times)

“They're dealing with such a high volume of packages,” said Blake Droesch, a senior analyst at eMarketer who studies last-mile delivery. “This isn't the post office of old, where you could get an address half right, and the postman will spend half the day trying to figure out who this letter is from.”

Since demand for deliveries peaked early in the pandemic, Droesch noted, there has been a significant shift in what people buy online, from items like new shoes or a laptop — things that people didn't mind spending a few days on. waiting to receive them – to hygiene products. and home supplies that are needed quickly.

“If you run out of deodorant,” he said, “you'll need it the next day.”

Ram Bala, an associate professor of business analytics at Santa Clara University, studies the supply chain and is involved in a startup that will use generative artificial intelligence to improve shipping logistics.

Bala said it's often strange little problems that seem easy to solve (in this case, figuring out how to accommodate fractional addresses) that end up being the most difficult.

“Every time you try to solve that problem, there are unintended consequences somewhere else,” he said. “It's a trade-off.”

Retailers don't seem to be prioritizing a solution for people with fractional addresses because it would require removing rigid formatting parameters built into the software to ensure normal addresses are entered correctly, Bala said.

In Los Angeles, which has about 1 million residential addresses, the roughly 60,700 fractionals are relative rarities. They are concentrated in densely populated neighborhoods such as Boyle Heights, East Hollywood and Pico-Union, according to the city's Bureau of Engineering, which oversees the processing of address numbers.

“The use of fractional numbers is discouraged and should only be used as a last resort,” he says primer can be found on the agency's website.

A city spokesperson said the reluctance to allocate partial addresses — which are often, but not always, ½ and never go beyond ¾ — stems from conversations with residents who are concerned not only about confusion between delivery drivers and visitors, but also about the effect on real estate values. Still, it is sometimes the best alternative if you want to squeeze new units between existing units.

The phenomenon is not unique to LA

Only about 60,700 of the 1 million residential addresses in Los Angeles have fractures.

Only about 60,700 of the 1 million residential addresses in Los Angeles have fractures.

(Marisa Gerber/Los Angeles Times)

Pockets of other major cities where large, historic buildings were divided into smaller homes, such as New York and Philadelphia, also have partial addresses. And in an even more complicated twist, detailed in one piece Colorado Public Radiothe city of Grand Junction, Colorado, has breaks in its street names, creating baffling intersections such as roads C ½ and 28 ¾.

Despite the delivery problems, fractional addresses can have a whimsical charm that often leads them to be compared to Platform 9 ¾, the fictional train stop in London where students from the Harry Potter series took the Hogwarts Express.

But for Juan Crespo, who started the Reddit thread asking for tips on living in a small address, it was more annoying than tempting.

Before moving into a unit in a Highland Park quadplex in 2021, the 32-year-old researcher tried to change his shipping address at online retailers he frequently used, including Southwest Airlines and Target, where he and his wife had created their marriage registry. .

But the sites continued to reject the slash.

He finally called and, after waiting a while, had a Target employee manually add the “½” to his address; by then, he said, several gifts had already been sent, including a $300 stand mixer.

When he ordered from DoorDash and Uber Eats, he said, his address was often automatically switched to another location a few blocks away, forcing him to enter a neighbor's address instead.

“It was just annoying,” said Crespo, who has since moved to Michigan and lived in a house with a full address number. “I'm glad we don't have to deal with that anymore.”

For Hogan, who lives in the ADU in Van Nuys, the annoyance remains.

A few months ago, she posted to an online help forum asking Google to add her partial address to Google Maps because many retailers use the company's mapping software. handling shipping logistics, and a problem there can cause a ripple effect of problems on other sites.

“I have to resort to entering my neighbor's address and hoping I can intercept the delivery person,” Hogan wrote. “STAFF!”

A member of Google's Product Experts Program, a group of volunteers who answer questions in exchange for company benefits, quickly responded to Hogan, saying only an employee can add an address with a slash to the map. A volunteer asked her to upload a photo of her driver's license or utility bill showing her address, but Hogan felt uncomfortable and gave up the attempt.

She can easily run down a list of packages that never arrived or were initially delivered elsewhere: workout clothes, two pairs of Nike shoes, a Jolie Skin Co. showerhead. And she has become accustomed to filing claims with shipping companies after receiving reports showing images of packages left in unknown doorways. She bought a Ring doorbell camera and turned on the package notification feature so she has proof that a delivery never arrived.

Many of her food deliveries got so mixed up, she said, that she put a rack outside her gate with a sign that read, “Leave the food here.”

These days, she prefers to shop in person whenever possible and thinks twice before buying anything online — a hesitation, she admits with a laugh, that comes with a silver lining.

“I think it will save me money.”

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