SAN FRANCISCO—The State Public Works Board (SPWB) today approved a potential site among several alternatives currently under consideration for a proposed new juvenile courthouse to replace the current Eastlake Juvenile facility for the Superior Court of Los Angeles County. The potential site approved today is approximately 3.2 acres in two city blocks bounded by Jackson Street, Center Street, and Banning Street, approximately two miles from the current location adjacent to Juvenile Hall. The site was chosen for its proximity to the Santa Ana freeway and its location central to the area to be served by the future courthouse. The property is privately owned.
The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), which is managing the project, expects to submit a second potential site for approval by SPWB sometime next year. Approval of two potential sites is a standard part of the state’s site selection process for courthouse projects. The AOC has been working with the County of Los Angeles to identify potential sites—either at the current location or in other locations—that would enable the juvenile courthouse to remain co-located with juvenile hall, which is run by the county.
SPWB approval allows the AOC to undertake further due diligence, an environmental assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act, and negotiations with sellers that will ultimately result in finalization of the site. Site selection and environmental review, as well as site acquisition, which also requires SPWB approval, must be completed before architectural design of the new courthouse can begin.
The proposed project would replace one of the superior court’s busiest juvenile facilities, receiving approximately 19,500 visitors per month. The current facility, built in 1954 and since only slightly remodeled, contains numerous deficiencies in access, efficiency, security, overcrowding, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and physical condition. The proposed project would replace it with a modern, secure juvenile courthouse housing five courtrooms in 65,500 square feet.
This project was ranked as a “critical need” in the judicial branch’s capital-outlay plan, making it among the branch’s highest-priority infrastructure projects. It is funded by Senate Bill 1407, which finances critically needed courthouse construction, renovation, and repair through a portion of judicial branch fees, penalties, and assessments, without impact on the state’s General Fund.
The state Budget Act for fiscal year 2011–2012 contains significant cuts to the account that funds SB 1407 projects in particular. These cuts may cause delays in SB 1407 projects and project budget reductions, but are not expected to delay this project’s progress in the current fiscal year.
The AOC and the County of Los Angeles have also been working toward a joint agreement that would enable the county to co-locate certain of its court-related functions in this facility and several other courthouse projects the AOC is undertaking in Los Angeles. The agreement would involve a cost-sharing arrangement between the county and the state. The agreement will affect the overall space plan for this courthouse and others affected, so once negotiations are finalized, the AOC will need to submit a new scope, budget, and schedule for each project for review by the state legislative and executive branches. This process is likely to lengthen the overall timeline for this project, but the AOC believes the arrangement will ultimately benefit both the county and the public served by these courthouses.
Site acquisition for this project is currently scheduled to be completed in 2013. The current schedule calls for construction to begin in mid-2015 and be completed in late 2016, subject to change. More information about the project is available online.