Around Dublin: Prep work being done for new county courthouse
By Alan Elias, San Jose Mercury News, May 31, 2012
Without fanfare, Alameda County has begun the initial stages of construction preparation for the new East County Courthouse/Government Center in Dublin.
Located off Gleason Drive just south of Santa Rita Jail, about the only activity on this parcel of land the past 10 years has been when goats are regularly brought in to clear away brush and tall grass. But this past week, a fence has gone up and machinery brought in to dig trenches.
"The work we're doing now is the preliminary phase of the projects," says Jim Kachik, deputy director of the Alameda County General Services Administration. "We're digging up the remnants of Camp Parks -- old sewer pipe, concrete and a lot of other junk."
Because of concerns that the sewer pipe might contain asbestos, the county has hired a hazardous materials contractor to ensure that there are no environmental concerns. Frankly, they're hoping they don't uncover any other hazardous materials as a part of this work so that the already delayed project isn't pushed back any further. Actual construction on the three-building, $100 million facility isn't scheduled to begin until the first quarter of 2013, with June 2015 as the current target date for completion. The largest of the buildings will be eight stories tall.
Courts face budget restructuring, courthouse project delay due to state budget revision
By Elizabeth Larson, Lake County News, May 30, 2012
LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – A larger-than-expected state deficit and the governor’s May budget revision are hitting courts across the state and here in Lake County, as budgets are reworked and projects reconsidered or pushed back.
On May 17, the Judicial Council of California held an emergency session to meet with California Director of Finance Ana Matosantos about Gov. Jerry Brown’s new budget proposal, which called for a $544 million reduction to the judicial branch in fiscal year 2012-13 after four consecutive years of cuts totaling $653 million.
Court Construction Funding Could Take Another Hit
By Mark Christian, American Institute of Architects, California Council, May 23, 2012
Governor Jerry Brown recently revised his proposed state budget to reflect the new estimated budget deficit of $16 billion. Like last year, the Governor is proposing to take money from the court construction fund to help balance the state budget.
Last year, over $300 million was taken from that fund. The Governor is proposing to take $240 million this year.
The money in the fund comes from special fees, assessments, and penalties imposed on court users. Currently, the money, if left in the court construction fund, is used to acquire land and hire design professionals. Eventually, the money will be used to finance bonds for the $5 billion construction program to make critical improvements to court facilities (replacement and improvement).
If the Legislature agrees with the Governor’s proposed taking of the $240 million, it will delay the court facility construction program by at least one year.
New state courthouse goes green and tall
Courthouse steps, glistening top in $620 million design, opening still set in 2016
By Roger Showley, San Diego Union-Tribune, May 18
Four years from now, assuming state budget problems go away, San Diegans will flock to a soaring, glistening, energy- and security minded, new courthouse -- a $620.1 million replacement for the 50-year-old drab low-rise, three-block hulk it will replace just off Broadway.
"I think it is certainly a realization about the necessity for the new San Diego central courthouse," said Robert J. Trentacosta, presiding judge of the Superior Court, which will occupy the 22-story, 71-courtroom building at Union and C streets.
He added, "This thing has been vetted over many years by many experts and has been through many committees and each time it is in the immediate and critical needs category, and in my view, rightfully so."
Brown's proposed budget cuts affect court system
By Nannette Miranda, ABC7/News10, May 17
SACRAMENTO, CA - Got a traffic ticket you want to fight? Or a pending family court matter like divorce or child custody? Maybe you sued a business. Well, you may not get your day in court for months.
That's what California courts are facing if Gov. Jerry Brown's budget cuts are approved.
The Judicial Council called an emergency meeting to review what $500 million cuts would mean; shorter hours, further layoffs, even a shutdown of some courtrooms are on the table. Many construction projects would also have to be put on hold.
Court Officials Air Concerns About Budget Cuts, with Few Solutions Seen
By Cheryl Miller, The Recorder, May 17
SACRAMENTO — A sober gathering of judges on Thursday promised darkened courtrooms, mass layoffs and the elimination of basic public services if Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed $544 million in reductions to the judiciary stand.
"We cannot afford these cuts," Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Laurie Earl told the Judicial Council. "Furthermore, we cannot absorb these reductions in 45 days," she said, noting the quickly approaching start of the new fiscal year.
New courthouse in Long Beach is topped out
Roger Vincent, LA Times, May 7, 2012
Construction of the Gov. George Deukmejian Courthouse reached a milestone last week when workers placed the last beam of the $490-million structure in downtown Long Beach. The new building, set to open on Magnolia Avenue in fall 2013, will replace the nearby Long Beach Courthouse, completed in 1959 and considered overcrowded and obsolete. The five-story Deukmejian building will house 31 courtrooms, as well as superior court administration quarters, Los Angeles County justice agencies, offices leased to the county Probation Department, a food court and a convenience store.
California judges' war heading into a new phase
Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee, April 30, 2012
A professional-quality video clip that popped up on YouTube depicts physical deficiencies in California courtrooms and makes the case for building new courthouses and rehabbing old ones. The video, containing scene after scene of overcrowded courtrooms, mouse traps and water damage, was produced for the Judicial Council, the San Francisco-based policymaking body for California's court system.
Solano County leaders to consider fees for Old Courthouse
Melissa Murphy, The Reporter, April 28, 2012
Solano County's Old Courthouse is getting a facelift, but the state is looking to use county facility fees to foot part of the bill. The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider approving a request for slightly more than $2.5 million from Public Facility Fee Contingency to the PFF budget for court construction.
Courthouse overhaul to be reviewed Budget crisis means that projects statewide are being reassessed
Veronica Rocha, LA Times, April 27, 2012
Faced with a statewide budget crisis, a high panel of judges agreed this week to allow 13 planned court construction projects, including an overhaul of Glendale's facility, to be reassessed in an effort to cut costs. The state's Court Facilities Working Group will look at trimming roughly $1.1 billion worth of planned projects by reducing square footage, renovating existing buildings, employing lower cost construction and assessing lease options, according to a state report.
New Hemet Courthouse plans to be reassessed
The Press Enterprise, April 25, 2012
The plans for replacing the aging and antiquated Hemet Courthouse may be significantly altered after the state’s governing body for courts this week announced plans to drastically reduce future court construction costs.
Official: Discussion expected to focus on renovation options
Christopher Rosacker, The Union, April 23, 2012
The Judicial Council of the Administrative Office of the Courts meets today to contemplate approving a “reassess” designation for Nevada County's plans for its courthouse project in Nevada City. The somewhat vague designation — one of 13 courthouse projects suggested for reassessment — was made by a Judicial Council subcommittee with the aim of significantly lowering their costs, according to AOC officials.
State cuts Shasta County courthouse budget by 10 percent
Jim Schultz, Redding Record-Searchlight, April 24, 2012
The estimated $170 million Shasta County Courthouse project must cut its approximately $98 million construction budget by 10 percent after the Judicial Council of California Tuesday endorsed a cost-cutting plan that calls for trimming 24 projects statewide and the reassessment of 13 others. The Judicial Council, the policymaking body of the California courts, approved a series of recommendations from the Court Facilities Working Group, which included the Shasta County Courthouse construction cost reduction.
Court cuts create ‘justice delayed’
April 02, 2012, By Michelle Durand, Daily Journal
Local court officials say despite their best efforts to insulate the public from statewide budget cuts that have already crimped hours and stretched resources, justice is being delayed and those needing the system will further feel the pinch.
Merchants See Transformation of Downtown
Merchants see Courthouse Project as a catalyst for better things to come
The Porterville Recorder, February 6, 2012
Work is beginning this month on the nine-courtroom facility that will draw hundreds of people downtown every day. The courthouse is being constructed where the Porterville Fairgrounds called home for 65 years on Olive Avenue along the old Santa Fe railroad tracks.
“I don’t just hope, I’m 100 percent sure,” said Subway Sandwich shop owner Avtar Basra of the positive impact the new South County Justice Center will eventually have on the downtown area.
Justice will be served
New county courthouse will fill an urgent need
It will be 13 stories high - although for the superstitious among us, the 13th will be called the "Administration Floor" - and replace a 48-year-old facility. And it will be built. At least that's the promise.
It is a new, $273 million county courthouse that will be the tallest building in San Joaquin County.
It's about time.
The real problem is security. Criminal defendants brought from the County Jail and other facilities are routinely marched through crowded public hallways...
Bad idea: Using court construction funds to cover operational costs
By Mary Ann O'Malley, Bob Balgenorth
It's no secret that construction workers in California have borne the brunt of the Great Recession. Our state's 12.4 percent unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the country. In the last two years some 300,000 construction workers have been thrown out of work. The construction industry here is facing an alarming 30 percent unemployment rate. These men and women need work.
And they need it now.
Rebuilding California's courts
Los Angeles Times Editorial
It's time to put money designated for construction to work doing that, not funding ongoing operations.
In 2008, the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to increase the cost of parking tickets and a range of other civil and criminal fines and fees to raise money to begin repairing and rebuilding dangerous, outdated and inaccessible courthouses across the state. But almost as soon as the higher fees were in place, lawmakers and the governor declared a budget emergency and temporarily diverted much of the new money to fund ongoing court operations.
Now the state's biggest trial court, the Los Angeles County Superior Court, sees years of further budget shortfalls ahead and says that it may need to lay off as much as a third of its nonjudicial staff over the next three years to make ends meet. To avoid those layoffs and, more to the point, to avert a large-scale courtroom shutdown that could delay justice for many litigants -- from residents seeking divorce and child custody to corporations suing one another -- court leaders here want to put off the construction program for at least one more year so they can again divert the money to operations.