SLO County Clerk-Recorder's office will no longer process passports as of Feb. 1

Helping residents obtain passports has become a losing proposition for the county, Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald told the Board of Supervisors this week, and she will no longer process them effective Feb. 1.

The county has been helping process passports since before 1982, Rodewald wrote in a staff report. At one time, it served 6,000 residents a year and brought in $185,000 in revenue. But last year the county helped process passports for only 2,000 residents.

Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, various federal regulations were put in place.

One change was the requirement that people who go to Mexico and Canada have a passport rather than just a birth certificate. That led to an increase in the number of passports and a corresponding jump in the number of outlets helping process them, at the expense of the county Clerk-Recorder’s Office.

In addition, fees to agencies issuing passports went down, and new security requirements increased the time and cost of dealing with passport applications, Rodewald wrote.

During the past three years, she wrote, many county clerks “have ceased providing passport services because of difficulties in working with the Department of State.”

She and a handful of others held out, Rodewald wrote, but when she did the math this year, she learned the county was taking in $60,000 in passport-related fees and spending $70,000 on processing.

Her office can find other uses for that money, she wrote.

Those who need passports can find service at various times at post offices throughout the county, including Morro Bay, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, and the Madonna Road post office in San Luis Obispo. The Pismo Beach and Santa Maria post offices accept applications on Saturdays, she wrote.