Friday, October 20 , 2017, 5:18 am | Fair 64º


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.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

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 >