DMV office closes in Walnut Creek

WALNUT CREEK — The California Department of Motor Vehicles will close its field office in downtown Walnut Creek at 5 p.m. Friday after deciding not to renew its lease at 1910 N. Broadway St.

In its place, the DMV will make permanent a new office about 23 miles away in Pleasanton that had served as a temporary branch while another office in that city underwent renovations. Walnut Creek residents looking to pass their driver’s license test or complete other in-person tasks will need to travel an extra six miles to the DMV office in Concord.

The DMV has not made clear why it chose not to renew its lease in Walnut Creek, but said in a release that “expanded online services,” along with mail and kiosks, will allow local residents to complete “most” transactions without needing to visit a field office.

A spokesman clarified Wednesday that the DMV’s remote services now include vehicle registration renewal, driver’s license renewal, request of driver records and completion of a driver’s license application.

“Some online services are self-serve, meaning you can complete them on your own from start to finish,” DMV spokesman Nicholas Filipas said in an email. “Others are “assisted,” meaning they are started online and then a DMV representative contacts the customer through email and processes the transaction without an office visit.”

Stuart Gruendl, who acquired the property two years ago, said DMV officials likely wanted to find “bigger space” after its lease expired.

Gruendl said he now intends to build a multi-family apartment complex on the lot. It’s part of Walnut Creek’s larger north downtown specific plan, which involves building more housing on North Broadway.

In a statement, Walnut Creek Mayor Loella Haskew said the city has “long appreciated” the field office for “making it convenient for our residents to take care of so many services.”

“Just as standing in lines at the DMV has been largely replaced by jumping online at the DMV’s website over the years, it was bound to happen that the agency might start consolidating services into fewer offices,” Haskew said. “It is still a loss for our community, though.”

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