Residents May Apply for Passports at City Hall

Eric J. Kos  Artie Cortez and Irma Glidden offer a new service to the public at the City Clerk’s Office in City Hall. Alameda residents can now have staff help them do everything they need to apply for passports and avoid the line at the post office.

Residents May Apply for Passports at City Hall

In a strange turn of events, in 2017, not only will I be leaving the Island for a few weeks, I’ll be leaving the whole entire United States. This is unprecedented in Alameda Sun history. Never have I been more than one coast away from Sun world headquarters while actively publishing. 

For my brother’s 50th birthday in May, we’ll be exploring our roots in Rome and Penne, Italy, with a goodly chunk of our family. Hence, it was time to renew my passport after allowing it to remain dormant the 15 years I’ve been publishing the Sun. Thanks to the city of Alameda, that task related to this journey of a lifetime was checked off my list quite easily. 

First, I brushed up on the details at alamedaca.gov/passports, thinking I’d arm myself with knowledge ahead of time. I printed out the form from there, filled it out, followed instructions and made copies of my driver’s license and birth certificate and set off for the City Clerk’s office thinking I was one of those smarty pants people who has their act together before hand. Wrong. 

Heads up lawyers, the State Department expects you to fill out your form in black ink, despite the fact that blue ink supposedly helps prove the originality of the document. My first mistake required me to fill out the forms again using a black ink pen this time. Luckily Assistant City Clerk Irma Glidden and Passport Acceptance Agent Arthur “Artie” Cortez were there to straighten me out. 

Thinking everyone’s ahead of me technologically, I guessed I could pay the associated fees “digitally” with a credit card or with my cell phone or something. Wrong. The State Department only accepts checks, so bring your checkbook. 

I thought I’d offer the tip that you can park for free in the spots marked “public” in the City Hall lot between City Hall and the Alameda Police Department, but turns out they were all taken, so I parked down Santa Clara Avenue instead (it was still free.)I don’t recommend parking in the spots reserved for the Mayor and City Council, even if they’re vacant. 

You’d think the publisher of the local newspaper could attempt to get a simple task like applying for a passport at City Hall done with little fanfare. Wrong. In the middle of applying, Mayor Trish Spencer walked in and blew my cover by thanking me for trying out the new service, revealing to all the employees that I was likely there to “review” their service. 

Don’t expect that kind of reception when you apply. 

Cortez snapped a quick headshot of me on his Ipad (no need to run off to Walgreen’s for a passport photo. He also advised that as of November, passport photos must be taken without glasses. So I ended up with a nice photo of some guy without glasses who looks nothing like me. 

This new effort was Glidden’s idea, and I can attest that at least thus far, the process proved fast and simple, the staff proved knowledgeable and skilled with a camera, which all helps those, like me, who don’t apply for passports every day.