Monday, October 27, 2008
Judicial Council Approves Courthouse Construction Projects
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The Judicial Council announced Friday that it has approved construction of five new courthouses and renovation of one existing courthouse in Los Angeles County using the proceeds from a $5 billion lease-revenue bond the Legislature approved last month.
A total of 41 projects in 34 counties across the state will be provided new or renovated courthouses over the next decade under SB 1407, the council said, including the building of new courthouse facilities in southeast Los Angeles, Glendale and Santa Clarita, a new juvenile courthouse, a mental health courthouse, and repairs to the Lancaster courthouse.
The council explained it would need to meet with the Department of Finance for approval of the sites selected for the first 12 projects on the list, which includes only the southeast Los Angeles courthouse. Authorization for site selection of the remaining 29 projects will be sought once sites for the first 12 projects are selected.
SB 1407, authored by Senator Don Perata, D-Oakland, and signed into law Sept. 26, provides a $5 billion lease-revenue bond to help the state upgrade courthouses. The bond measure is financed entirely through increases in court-related fines and fees.
Based on estimates of various enhanced revenue streams, nearly $300 million in annual bond revenue will pay for pre-construction costs and debt service payments on construction costs the council said. That amount also will provide $40 million annually for security improvements, life safety and code compliance, and courthouse repairs.
The council also approved changes to its procedure for selecting courthouse projects and moving them through the funding process, sorting proposed projects into five priority need groups: immediate, critical, high, medium, and low.
The new Southeast Los Angeles Courthouse, Glendale Courthouse, Santa Clarita Courthouse and Lancaster Courthouse renovations were all classified in the immediate need category, while the remaining two local projects were classified as critical.
The council said that recent estimates show that 90 percent of courthouses need improvements to protect the safety and security of the public, litigants, jurors, and families who do business in the courts.
Chief Justice Ronald M. George has previously said that 68 facilities demonstrate either critical or immediate needs.
The projected total cost of the 41 projects is $4,777,246,000, allowing for a 4.46 percent contingency. The Southeast Los Angeles Courthouse was estimated to cost $212,394,000; the Glendale Courthouse $2,548,312,000; the Lancaster Courthouse renovations $2,556,743,000; the Santa Clarita Courthouse $2,607,022,000; the Los Angeles Eastlake Juvenile Courthouse $2,674,598,000; and Los Angeles Mental Health Courthouse $2,715,143,000.
SB 1407 authorizes the construction of the Southeast Los Angeles Courthouse, as well as the construction of new courthouses in Butte, Tehama and Yolo counties.
Projects submitted to the Department of Finance include construction of new courthouses in the counties of Imperial, Lake, Monterey, Riverside, Sacramento, Shasta, Sonoma and Sutter.
Other projects approved include two new courthouses in Kern County, and new courthouses in the counties of Alameda, Alpine, El Dorado, Inyo, Kings, Mendocino, Merced, Nevada, Placer, Plumas San Diego, Santa Clara, Sierra, Siskiyou, Stanislaus and Tuolumne; and renovations to courthouses in the counties of Fresno, Glenn, Riverside, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, and Solano.
Copyright 2008, Metropolitan News Company