The Department of Motor Vehicles is moving its headquarters from Northwest to a newly leased building near its Southwest vehicle inspection station. The move has raised concerns among residents about potential traffic and parking problems.
Residents also said they were upset that they were not notified earlier of the move. "The city is doing things to us without involving us," said David Sobelsohn, commissioner for ANC 6D02. "That's not only a violation of our rights and what we expect our city to do, it also makes the decision based on inadequate information."
The 130 employees at the DMV's headquarters, at 301 C Street NW, will move to the United Way building at 95 M Street SW in phases between early next month and October, said DMV spokeswoman Janis D. Hazel.
"Everything should be up and fully operational in the fall," Hazel said, adding that the DMV anticipates "a seamless transition" that would "not at all" affect services to the public, which include vehicle registration, licensing of drivers and ticket payments. She said the public service aspects of the DMV headquarters will be the last to move, and public notice will be given when the date is known.
Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large) said she "would expect [DMV officials] to make this transition as smooth as possible with no interruption in service for the customers," adding that she is "going to be watching" their performance.
During the move, most services will be available at two DMV service centers, at 1233 Brentwood Rd. NE and 3214 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
The city's fourth service center, at 3222 M Street NW in the Shops at Georgetown Park, which offers only renewals, closed Monday for 60 days for renovations, Hazel said.
When it reopens, it will offer a full range of services, including original licensing of drivers, issuance of identification cards, vehicle titling and registration, and help with medical review, insurance, driver records and permits.
The service expansion is part of OneDone, a project aimed at offering a complete array of services at all DMV locations, Hazel said.
Many neighbors of the three-story United Way building learned of its new use when DMV officials briefed residents of ANC 6D on June 13, Sobelsohn said.
Mary C. Williams, ANC commissioner for 6D03, whose district includes the building, noted that Anthony Bowen Elementary School is adjacent to the DMV's parking lot, that the King-Greenleaf Recreation Center is across the street and that Second Union Baptist Church and a fire station are nearby.
With traffic already making M Street "a really challenged area," Williams said, the DMV move means that "we're going to have a lot of auto traffic in a pedestrian community."
The new building, which is projected to serve an average of 560 customers a day, is about two blocks from Metro's Waterfront Station and about eight blocks from Navy Yard Station, Sobelsohn said. Both are on the Green Line. The building will have 80 parking spaces.
Some residents noted that D.C. law requires that ANCs be notified 30 days before major events in their areas.
DMV officials "didn't bother to notify anybody in the community until May 31st . . . months after they signed the lease and over a year after they started thinking about the possibility of having to move," Sobelsohn said. The city's Office of Property Management said it signed the lease March 28.
Hazel wrote in an e-mail that "due to a miscommunication between DMV" and the Office of Property Management, "a certified letter notifying the ANC was not sent timely." Directors of both agencies "acknowledge responsibility for the failure and regret the shortcoming," she added.
The decision to move the DMV headquarters from the Northwest municipal building was made partly to make room for the agency's ticket processing and adjudication operations, which must vacate their location at 65 K St. NE, Hazel said.
Annual rent at 95 M St. SW will be $688,502 and will rise 3 percent a year; operating costs will be $229,866. At the municipal building, the DMV paid an "occupancy fee" that, for 2006, would have been $223,440, plus utility bills of about $123,970, Hazel said. The DMV had been paying $1.8 million a year for the K Street building.