Long Lines at California DMV’s Fumbling Bureaucracy

(p. 12) LOS ANGELES — They were lined up by the dozens clear down the street on a recent afternoon — hot and frustrated in the sun, trying to attend to the most routine (and unavoidable) encounters with local government: renewing a driver’s license.
Inside the Hollywood office of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the wait was close to two hours. Folding chairs, all filled, were set up three-deep against three walls.
“There’s a six-week wait just to get an appointment,” said Alfred Kendrick, a fitness trainer from West Hollywood who, like many people here, showed up without one. “Come on. This is 2018. I can order a bowl from China in less time than it takes to get a driver’s license in California.”
Few states have embraced the idea of an expansive government as fervently as California, with its vast public university system, $100 billion high-speed rail project and even, the other day, the passage of legislation outlawing plastic straws. California’s leaders are on the forefront of global efforts to combat climate change and the Democratic challenge to President Trump.
But these days, to the embarrassment of Democrats who control the state government, California is fumbling one of its most basic tasks. Waiting times at motor vehicle offices have increased as much as 46 percent from a year ago, spotlighting a departmental bureaucracy marked by green computer screens and computers that still run on DOS.
California is by no means the only state where motorists have had to endure long lines. Complaints could be heard this summer from Texas to North Carolina to Connecticut. But the breakdown is particularly striking here in a state whose identity is defined in no small part by the automobile and by a sprawling view of government.

For the full story, see:
Adam Nagourney. “‘To Get on Road, California Drivers Spend Hours on Sidewalk.” The New York Times (Monday, Sept. 10, 2018): A12.
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Sept. 9, 2018, and has the title “‘A Scourge for California Drivers: Hours on a Sidewalk to Renew a License.”)

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