Council demands DMV reopening

CITY HALL — The City Council this week called on state officials to reopen the Department of Motor Vehicles branch on Glenoaks Boulevard, citing outrage from residents since it was closed indefinitely last month after a nearly $1-million facelift.

The branch at 1335 W. Glenoaks Blvd. was one of three offices that were closed as the DMV grapples with reduced staffing amid the state budget crisis.

Each day the Glendale branch served about 1,200 customers who are now being directed to offices in Lincoln Park and Pasadena.

On Tuesday, the City Council approved a formal resolution urging state officials to reopen the office in response to what they described as outrage from local residents.

"For our residents, it's a hardship," said Councilwoman Laura Friedman. "We are a big enough city that we need to have our own DMV branch."

But on Friday, a DMV spokesman said the only thing that could allow a reopening would be an infusion of state funding.

"It's really a budgetary issue," said Steve Haskins, a spokesman for the department. "We just don't have the personnel to keep them running efficiently. And like we've been saying all along, until we get authorization to hire some additional staff, it's just not going to change."

DMV officials, he said, haven't been able to fill vacancies brought on by retirements and budget cuts.

Council members seized on those budget cuts at Tuesday's meeting, calling the recent $900,000 revamp of the now empty DMV branch a "tremendous waste of taxpayer money."

"It's bad enough when the government wastes taxpayer money," Friedman said. "But when they waste it in our city under our noses, I feel like we should do something about it."

Renovations to the branch — which hadn't seen a major change since opening in 1961 — included new heating and air conditioning, flooring, furniture, signs and fencing upgrades.

Funding for the renovations was appropriated several years ago, Haskins said, adding that the closure is still considered temporary.

"I think there is an expectation that the offices that are temporarily closed will open again," he said. "But that's not going to happen until we get the budgetary authority to get them staffed."

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