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Diverse Wilton Manors wants unity in its ZIP code

It might seem insignificant, but your ZIP code says a lot about you and your neighbors: income levels, crime, home values and insurance rates.

But Wilton Manors, a city of just two square miles, is separated into four ZIP codes, including the poorest ZIP in Broward. That’s enough to give a city an identity crisis.

The diverse city is seeking unity under just one ZIP, 33305, where incomes and home values are higher than average.

ZIP codes aren’t just for mail carriers.

They’re used by advertising marketers, real estate investors, and auto insurance providers, who paint residents there with broad brushes.

One of the ZIPs in Wilton Manors, 33311, has the lowest incomes in the county, Census demographics show.

Because of that, car insurance for Wilton Manors residents west of Andrews Avenue, in 33311, is about $180 higher than for those in the rest of Wilton Manors, the city complained.

The 33311 ZIP is home to more than 65,000 people, many of them in unincorporated Broward. Fewer than 2,000 Wilton Manors properties lie in the 33311, but are tagged with the demographics of the entire zone.

City commissioners said the confusing handful of ZIPs has bothered residents for years.

If the initiative is a success, all Wilton Manors residents in 33311, 33334, and 33306 would switch to 33305.

Sure, it would require a lot of new letterhead and address labels, but supporters said it’s worth the trouble.

Commissioner Justin Flippen said it could take two years to get the single ZIP. But he said it makes sense for the compact “Island City” — so named because it is encircled almost entirely by rivers — to be unified this way.

“This is about our community identity,” Flippen said. “I know there’s an east, west and central component to Wilton Manors, but there is one Wilton Manors, and this helps reinforce that.”

The USPS considers such requests for “identity” reasons, the city said. But a previous effort years ago failed. This time, the Westside Association, a civic group in the 33311 ZIP code, asked the city to to resurrect the effort.

City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson said the post office would survey all residents before approving it.

Commissioner Tom Green said the ZIP change is important, beyond the practical implications, like car insurance bills.

“There is a city identity involved with this,” he said.

Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick said he supports the unified ZIP, but said it’s not a knock against 33311 and those who live there.

“I live in 33311,” he said. “I am a proud resident of 33311. The residents there have a distinguished history.”

Brittany Wallman can be reached at bwallman@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4541. Find her on Twitter @BrittanyWallman.

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