Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Public Works Board Approves Courthouse for Riverside County
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The State Public Works Board yesterday approved the use of SB 1407 funds for a new courthouse in Riverside County, along with changes to two previously approved courthouse projects in Northern California, the Administrative Office of the Courts reported.
The new Riverside County courthouse, in Hemet, would have nine courtrooms.
The AOC said the new building “would improve access to justice and security by replacing the significantly overcrowded, physically deficient Hemet Courthouse with a modern, secure facility for all case types, including criminal cases, which are currently handled in Murrieta or even farther away.” It would also provide space for four new judgeships.
The other projects are a 44-courtroom facility for criminal cases in Sacramento County, and a 20-courtroom Family Justice Center in Santa Clara County. The Sacramento project was revised “to improve access and efficiency at lower cost,” while the Santa Clara facility will have a greater proportion of its total funding provided through SB 1407, the AOC said.
Because construction costs have dropped as a result of the recession, the AOC said, it was able to increase the proposed number of courtrooms in Sacramento from 35 to 44, yet lower the overall project estimate to $439.1 million. Under the new funding plan for the Santa Clara facility—which is to replace six leased spaces and consolidate all family-related services, including family court, juvenile dependency, and drug court into a single facility—a majority of the estimated $241 million budget will be funded by SB 1407.
SB 1407 provides up to $5 billion in funding for 41 new and renovated court facilities identified by the AOC as critically needed, using court user fees rather than the state’s general revenues.
The AOC said the three projects approved yesterday bring the total approved this year under SB 1407 to 27, and that authorizations for the remaining projects would be requested next month.
“These projects will offer valuable economic stimulus in local communities as they proceed through design and construction,” according to a release. “The AOC is seeking to expedite these projects to take advantage of the current economy’s reduced pricing on land, design, and construction.”
It was noted that courthouse projects normally take five years to complete.
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