Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Public Works Board Approves Funds for Santa Clarita Courthouse
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Six new courthouse projects financed by Senate Bill 1407, including construction of a new courthouse in Santa Clarita, received initial funding authorization yesterday by the State Public Works Board.
A spokesperson for the Administrative Office of the Courts explained that this approval marks the official start of these projects, which include construction of a new central San Diego Courthouse—the largest project funded by SB 1407—and courthouses in Inyo, Kern, Merced and Tuolumne counties.
To initiate each project, the AOC must seek funding authorization from the Joint Legislative Budget Committee of the State Legislature as well as the Public Works Board, the spokesperson said, which enables the AOC to proceed with site selection, environmental review, and preliminary plans for each project.
Courthouse construction projects typically take approximately five years from start to finish, the spokesperson said.
The AOC began the first 15 projects funded by SB 1407 in late July of this year and the spokesperson said it plans to request funding authorizations for all remaining SB 1407 projects between now and May 2010.
SB 1407, authored by Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, and signed into law last year, 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.
The Judicial Council has identified 69 courthouse projects in “immediate and critical need” of completion and voted last October to recommend funding for 41 of those projects through SB 1407.
Each of the six projects which received funding approval yesterday were ranked as “immediate need” or “critical need,” making them among the highest priority capital-outlay projects for California’s judicial branch, the AOC spokesperson said.
A total of 41 projects in 34 counties across the state will be provided new or renovated courthouses over the next decade under the bill.
Chief Justice Ronald M. George said in a statement:
“Strengthening the physical foundation of our judicial system is more than a metaphor. Courthouses are as vital a part of California’s infrastructure as bridges, highways, and water systems. It is time to adequately fund this fundamental component of the infrastructure of our democracy. Public safety and the interests of 38 million Californians require it.”
Copyright 2009, Metropolitan News Company