Monday, July 11, 2011
State Board Approves Site Acquisition for Two Courthouses
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The State Public Works Board on Friday approved the acquisition of land in Santa Barbara and Shasta counties for two courthouse construction projects.
Privately owned property adjacent to Santa Barbara’s Figueroa Courthouse, and two acres of land in Redding, Calif. are slated to be home to new courthouses for each of the counties.
The Administrative Office of the Courts is managing the projects. An AOC spokesperson said the agency completed environmental review of the Santa Barbara site in April and is currently engaged in negotiations with Santa Barbara County for the acquisition of other parcels of land needed for the envisioned courthouse and parking.
A 97,000 square foot building, housing eight criminal courtrooms, is planned for the Santa Barbara site, which would replace the Figueroa Courthouse. The planned facility will have separate, secure corridors for the public, staff, and in-custody defendants, as well as a larger holding facility than the existing courthouse.
Santa Barbara Superior Court Presiding Judge Brian Hill said he was “deeply appreciative of the diligent efforts of the AOC to facilitate the construction of a new criminal courthouse that is secure and aesthetically pleasing,” to serve as an “architectural statement which reflects the unparalleled beauty of Santa Barbara.”
The property for the planned Shasta courthouse within the Market Street Redevelopment Area at Oregon and Yuba Streets was purchased from the City of Redding Redevelopment Agency by the AOC last Tuesday. The $2.5 million sale involves an equity exchange for the court’s space in the current courthouse and cash, and escrow is expected to close in 30 to 60 days, the AOC spokesperson said.
A 173,350 square foot facility is planned for the two-acre site at Oregon and Yuba Streets. Te proposed 14-courtroom building is expected to consolidate adult and juvenile court operations from the main courthouse and annex, the justice center, and the juvenile court.
Shasta Superior Court Judge Molly A. Bigelow hailed the acquisition as “the result of years of collaboration with local government entities to secure the best possible site for a new courthouse,” which will be “the first secure, adequately sized court facility for Shasta County citizens.”
The proposed projects were ranked as an “immediate need” on the Judicial Council’s list of capital-outlay projects. They are funded by Senate Bill 1407, enacted in 2008 to provide up to $5 billion in funding for 41 new and renovated courthouses using court fees, penalties, and assessments.
Recent cuts to the judicial branch budget are not expected to affect these acquisitions, the AOC spokesperson said.
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