Some major decisions from California’s Judicial Council on the statewide multi-billion dollar construction program. Council members endorsed a cost-cutting direction that will directly and immediately affect 37 projects.
Hon. Brad Hill, Chair, Court Facilities Working Group “Many tough and often untenable choices have to be made, and they have to be made now.”
“We need to take a very close look at every project to determine that when we’re able to build them, they’re built efficiently, and very economically. And if they can’t be built economically, they shouldn’t be built.”
13 projects will be reassessed to look for significant savings – like smaller buildings, or renovating the old one, or maybe even leasing. Another 24 projects will proceed, but their budgets will be cut – anywhere from 6 to 14%. Seven projects will serve as demonstration models for lower cost construction methods, like using prefabricated tilt-up construction. The goal will be much higher cost savings than 14%.
Hon. Jeffrey Johnson, Court Facilities Working Group “We are confident that the minimum cost reductions and more can be achieved without compromising safety, security, building performance or court operations.” While some people suggest that court construction should stop completely, immediately, Justice Hill’s committee recommended a balanced approach.
Hon. Brad Hill, Chair, Court Facilities Working Group “Unfortunately California has a sorry history of at times ignoring critical infrastructure needs in order to cover short term operating goals. We need to make very clear that it needs to be a balanced approach and an equitable approach and that not all eyes immediately turn to the construction program whenever there’s a shortfall in some other area.”
Hon. David S. Wesley, Judicial Council “Can we maintain all these new courthouses that we’re constructing?” Hon. Brad Hill, Chair, Court Facilities Working Group “We will make very attempt to do so and to make those recommendations to you.”
Hon Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of California “I’m gratified that a group of judges are looking closely into the issues, reassessing, looking for costs, finding a way to make this work responsibly. And I look forward to their future recommendations.”
Other agenda items of the business meeting included reports on the council’s Liaison program. Judges said their visits to courts were enlightening. Judge Robert Moss toured the historic Independence courthouse in Inyo County.
Hon. Robert Moss, Judicial Council “The conditions there in my estimation are deplorable.”
Judge Erica Yew observed: smaller courts have unique challenges which might benefit by sharing resources.
Hon Erica Yew, Judicial Council “I’m in Santa Clara so we’re very close to Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz, and we’re looking at coordinating geographically and collaborating with each other.” Council members also accepted an audit report on the Superior Court in Mono County and approved one-time funding, related to a remodeled juvenile facility for the El Dorado Superior Court. For details on this and other agenda items, go to the Judicial Council’s website.
I’m Leanne Kozak reporting from San Francisco for California Courts News.