A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

DMV: Our air is too bad for work

Written September 14th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

People waited for their appointments outside the Albany DMV on the afternoon of Sept. 10.

The Oregon DMV announced that nearly all its offices, including Albany and Lebanon, would be closed again Tuesday, as they were on Monday, because of “hazardous indoor air quality.” But why would the air inside the DMV be worse than anywhere else?

“Due to heavy wildfire smoke affecting nearly every part of the state, air conditions are not safe for customers and employees inside most DMV buildings,” the agency said. “Air quality outdoors and driving conditions are so hazardous that the safest option for Oregonians who are not evacuating is to stay indoors.”

But not indoors at the DMV, apparently.

The Oregon DMV has been running on one or two cylinders since the Covid crisis started. It closed down for a while, then asked people to make appointments for transactions they could not handle via the Internet.

But appointments became hard to get. Last week, the DMV’s appointment app said that at the Albany office, no appointment times were available at all. When I went there in person, the employee I spoke to, outside at the door, was not surprised. He said their appointment calendar was filled through the middle of November.

As a government agency, the DMV can afford to close up or slow down for a while, and as long as it wants, because its customers can’t go anywhere else.

Just be glad that the supermarkets, Fred Meyer and Safeway and all the rest, don’t do the same — even though the pandemic and wildfire smoke threaten their employees like they do everyone else. If they did, we would all starve.

During one of its special sessions, the Oregon legislature suspended the laws on DMV licenses and permits until the end of the year. So even if your current eight-year driver’s license expires next month, don’t worry about it. Even without a valid license, you can legally drive.

If that’s the case, you may wonder, and if public safety is not endangered, why after 50-plus years of safe driving is there a need to renew the license at all? (hh)

11 responses to “DMV: Our air is too bad for work”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    ….why after 50-plus years of safe driving is there a need to renew the license at all?
    I went beyond legally blind due to cataracts between license renewals. I’m thinking that might have been 8 years?

  2. thomas cordier says:

    I have first hand knowledge that certain fire depts have/are sending paid fire dept employees into the area East of Salem with no face masks of any type. The N-95 mask has HEPA certification and should be used. Seems like a serious OSHA violation.
    Been going on for a few days

  3. William Ayers says:

    “Because it just hasn’t gotten weird enough” Hunter S. Thompson

    Seriously though, Hope folks who had to evacuate and/or lost their homes are getting support and help.

  4. Gene Frazzini says:

    Republic Services has not been picking up trash or recycle in Albany because of the smoke. It appears if you are a monopoly you don’t have to play by the same rules as other businesses.

  5. Ray Kopczynski says:

    “When I went there in person, the employee I spoke to, outside at the door, was not surprised. He said their appointment calendar was filled through the middle of November.”

    My license expires on 09/24. I went to renew 2 weeks ago. My in-person appointment is November 5th…

  6. centrist says:

    Things are different!!!
    I like the old way because……

    Get a grip, chill, and move on y’all. Different isn’t an evil conspiracy perpetrated by an unidentifiable “them”.

    • HowlingCicada says:

      If a larger majority believed as you do, the country would be in much better shape. My big fear is that the upcoming election will be decided by the zeal of a minority obsessed with the unidentifiable “them.”

  7. sonamata says:

    Have you considered that the people serving you don’t teleport to work? People have to walk, bike, and sit outside waiting for buses. The air has been off-the-charts hazardous for days, and nobody should be outside without an N95 mask. Kudos to places that are actually considering their employees’ health!

    Besides, major grocery store chains are operating in much larger open spaces, and probably have better HVAC systems that can maintain sufficient indoor air quality given the conditions and people constantly shuffling in and out.

  8. Denise Goebel says:

    Maybe I should be allowed to wait till the end of the year to renew my vehicle
    registration….Ooops, I guess they would like their money now. Silly me.


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