Santa Maria DMV office site
Vacant land at the corner of South Santa Maria Way and Sunrise Drive in Santa Maria will become home to a new Department of Motor Vehicles field office, but the $21 million project has been delayed at least a year. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The wait for the new California Department of Motor Vehicles field office in Santa Maria apparently will last at least a year longer.

Instead of 2020, construction at 2770 Santa Maria Way now will begin sometime in 2021, DMV spokesman Marty Greenstein told Noozhawk.

But the start of work is dependent upon the Legislature approving the construction funding for the $21 million project, he said.

In 2018, DMV officials confirmed that the state had purchased three acres on the northeast corner of South Santa Maria Way and Sunrise Drive for $1,452,500 as the future home for the long-awaited new DMV facility.

The project, just south of South Miller Street, initially was expected to begin construction in spring 2020 with work lasting 18 to 24 months and opening in the fall of 2021, DMV representatives said in early 2018.

Delays during the acquisition phase of the project pushed back the timeline, Greenstein said Friday.

Since acquiring the land for the new Santa Maria DMV field office, the state has been working on pre-construction milestones such as environmental documents and drawings.

According to project documents, the approximately 13,700-square-foot building will be one story and 35 feet tall, with a contemporary architectural style.

“The building will be constructed in a contemporary architectural style with long horizontal lines inspired by the Prairie style of Frank Lloyd Wright,” according to environmental documents.

Renderings have not been completed yet, Greenstein said.

The facility will have approximately 102 parking spaces, including one for a semi-trailer.

Solar panels will be erected at the rear of the building, facing the corner of Santa Maria Way and Sunrise Drive and above the one row of parking spaces.

In addition to generating electricity, the solar panels will provide shade for employees’ and customers’ vehicles while reducing the heat radiating from the parking lot surface.

A 7-foot high decorative security fence will be placed around the perimeter with decorative sliding security gates at the pedestrian and vehicle entrances.

The facility is designed to accommodate a daily staff of 25 and more than 600 daily customers.

Other features will include employee and program support areas (e.g., a multipurpose room, communications room, lactation room, locker area and storage room), and employee and public restrooms.

Access to the property will be via a two-way driveway on Sunrise Avenue and a right-in/right-out only access at Santa Maria Way on the northwest corner.

The existing DMV office at 523 S. McClelland St. was built in 1969 and is only 4,387 gross square feet. It’s commonplace to see long lines of customers spill outside the building.

“This is a much needed office and it’s been many years so we certainly hope the DMV can proceed quickly,” said Mark van de Kamp, the City of Santa Maria’s public information manager.

City leaders also have noted the existing office is a detriment to agriculture and construction — two of the largest industries in the Santa Maria Valley— because it cannot provide the required testing for commercial licensing.

The nearest DMV offices offering commercial services are in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, van de Kamp said.

Land acquisition marked a key milestone for the project, which the city and others have sought since 2007 as the DMV renovated more than 40 offices around California.

The community long ago outgrew the McClelland Street DMV office, which was built when the Santa Maria Valley’s population was 32,749.

Today, the city has more than 106,000 residents, although that number is much larger when the populations of Orcutt, Guadalupe, other unincorporated areas and even southern San Luis Obispo County are included.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.