Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Alliance Skewers Leadership Over Plan to Stay in San Francisco
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
The Alliance of California Judges yesterday reacted negatively to the announcement that the state judiciary intends to remain primarily headquartered in San Francisco, rather than move to the state’s capital.
The group said in a statement:
“San Francisco is a very expensive place in which to do business. Bloomberg Business reports that, in addition to sky-high rents for apartment dwellers and businesses, San Francisco is now the world’s most expensive place for visitors to spend the night. Parking, gasoline, groceries—everything costs more in The City.
“So why does the AOC insist on staying there? Why won’t it move to Sacramento, thereby freeing up millions of taxpayer dollars that could go to our cash-strapped trial courts?”
AOC is the acronym for Administrative Office of the Courts, the now-retired name of the Judicial Council staff.
The alliance said it was responding to an email sent out Friday by courts Administrative Director Martin Hoshino, who said the judiciary’s Burbank office would close by 2017, but that staff would remain headquartered in San Francisco, where the Supreme Court is based.
Keeping the San Francisco office “preserves critical institutional knowledge and maintains service continuity for our customers and clients statewide,” Hoshino wrote.
The decision to remain in “the most expensive city in the state,” the alliance noted, is contrary to a 2012 recommendation of the Strategic Evaluation Committee appointed by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, as well as the suggestion earlier this year of the state auditor.
The SEC, in its report three years ago, noted that “the high cost of the lease in San Francisco certainly underscores the need for the AOC to evaluate the continued economic viability of that location in the course of conducting its long-range planning.” The report pointed out that “Sacramento lease rates are substantially lower than the space leased in San Francisco,” and said the branch would benefit from greater proximity to the other branches of government.
The auditor argued that moving to Sacramento “would likely result in significant savings and could improve…employees’ productivity because the majority of its managers and staff would be in the same location.”
The alliance commented in its release yesterday:
“We urge the Judicial Council to reject the staff’s recommendations. But given that the Chief Justice has made it clear that she wants to keep the overblown bureaucracy in San Francisco, and since most of the voting members of the Council were appointed by her, the only thing standing between the recommendation and the vote to adopt it is time. “
The alliance reiterated its longstanding view that all judges should have an opportunity to vote for the judicial members of the council.
Hoshino Friday said closure of the Burbank office will save $10-$12 million over 10 years.
The staff in that office has been reduced, Hoshino said, so paying for the space no longer makes sense.
The Judicial Council employed a consulting firm to perform a cost-benefit analysis of the suggested move. In his email, Hoshino said that the decisions to eliminate the Burbank office while staying in San Francisco were not made lightly.
“Given the potential impact on our employees’ lives as well as on our organization, we required a comprehensive and rigorous analysis,” Hoshino said, adding that the firm looked at multiple scenarios, including the payoff of a lease revenue bond at its San Francisco office.
‘Significant Rent Savings’
“The San Francisco location will see the most significant rent savings when the current lease revenue bond is fully paid off in 2021,” Hoshino said.
Besides, he noted, keeping the San Francisco office “preserves critical institutional knowledge and maintains service continuity for our customers and clients statewide.”
Hoshino’s email also said the staff’s lobbying arm will permanently relocate to Sacramento from San Francisco by August 2017.
The consulting firm’s report should be made public within 10 days, Hoshino said. But the Judicial Council still must accept its findings in order for them to be adopted.
The alliance’s view echoed a 2012 proposal that became AB 2501, by then-Assemblyman Martin Garrick, R-Carlsbad. The bill would have required that all state agencies, including the judiciary, relocate their principal headquarters to the capital by 2025. The legislation would also have provided that, beginning in that year, “the Supreme Court shall only hear cases in the Sacramento metropolitan area.”
Copyright 2015, Metropolitan News Company