Thursday, October 27 , 2016, 7:12 pm | Mostly Cloudy 65º


Local News

Santa Barbara Courthouse Plans Well-Received By Judicial Council Advisory Group

Four more California courthouse projects have been indefinitely delayed by the Judicial Council, but Santa Barbara’s proposal was “positively received” by one of the council’s advisory groups, according to Santa Barbara County Superior Court executive officer Gary Blair.

Santa Barbara’s project has been long approved for Senate Bill 1407 grant funding, but since the bill was passed in 2009, nearly $1.5 billion of court construction funds have been diverted to the state’s general fund or to bankroll trial court operations.

The new building would consolidate all the criminal courtrooms and use the 1.3-acre Hayward Properties at 1025 Santa Barbara St., which already has been purchased for the project.

As of now, 11 grant-funded courthouse construction projects across the state have been indefinitely delayed because of that money being diverted to other areas. Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 2013-14 budget would transfer additional money out of construction funds, and as a result, delay most remaining projects for a year.

“That’s the fear — losing a year,” Blair said.

The Court Facility Working Group’s cost-reduction committee met with Blair last Friday to look over three lower-cost options for a new criminal courthouse and essentially approved a three-story, eight-courtroom building to be built behind the current Figueroa Street courthouse, Blair said.

He added that the committee will recommend to the full group — and hopefully the Judicial Council at its February meeting — that the project move forward.

He’s cautiously optimistic and said it’s a big step to get a plan recommended to move forward.

If the Judicial Council and Department of Finance sign off, the planning process could begin in July.

However, “I think we still have to shave some costs,” Blair said.

The cost-reduction committee recommended “Option A,” which would cost about $51 million to build a new facility then demolish the current one, with an entry plaza in its place. It’s much smaller than the original plans, now devoid of any plans for parking or integrating the current facility.

Other options the committee considered were: to build a six-room courthouse connected to the current facility, which would have to be renovated and converted mostly to staff use; and to add two courtrooms to the current facility to alleviate using the Anacapa courthouse for criminal cases.

These two options were more costly, since any renovations on the current building would require massive seismic and HVAC upgrades, as well as bringing it up to code for fire, safety and ADA, Blair said.

They also would address the security problems of transporting in-custody inmates through public hallways, public elevators and public streets to get between the holding facility and courtrooms.

The Court Facilities Working Group is scheduled to meet again next Monday.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >