Anne Witt, director of the District's Department of Motor Vehicles, said yesterday that she is exploring all ways to restore services after closing the department's ticket-payment and hearing office at 65 K St. NE, even if that means reopening parts of the building until other offices are ready.
Witt decided over the weekend to close the building for the week. In an interview Monday, she indicated that the closure would be permanent. Yesterday, however, she said an official decision on a permanent closure will be made by a wider circle of city officials and departments, perhaps by the end of this week.
Witt said officials from the offices of Public Works, Property Management and Risk Management and from the D.C. police department would need to be consulted before closing the building permanently.
"I just don't get to decree stuff," she said. "I rely on those agencies to answer those questions."
But Witt's boss, City Administrator Robert C. Bobb, said no thought should be given to reopening the decaying building.
"I say close the building permanently," Bobb said yesterday. "The building has enough issues, the landlord has not attended to the situation and we're paying exorbitant rent. Just close it and move on."
The K Street location has been the only facility where motorists could pay fines in person or contest fines at hearings. Tickets have been dismissed for drivers who had hearings scheduled for this week. By the end of this week, the agency said, it will announce what motorists should do about hearings scheduled for next week.
Witt said the K Street building has a computer system, call center and records that need to be accessed. Even if city officials decide to close the building for good, it might have to be made habitable "just for the purpose of unwinding it," Witt said.
Two-thirds of the building lacks air conditioning or ventilation, and employees have reported feeling ill, Witt said, a fact that was paramount in her decision to close the facility.
Witt said she would prefer that the equipment and 80 employees be moved from K Street to three DMV facilities under renovation. "I would love to have all the new stuff ready this minute," Witt said.
The department is renovating parts of its main office, at 301 C St. NW; its new headquarters, at 95 M St. SW; and the Georgetown service center in the Georgetown Park mall. None is finished.
The agency has been systematically emptying the K Street building.