State Halts New Courthouse Plans

Judicial Council Delays 11 Projects, Including Santa Barbara’s

Plans to construct a new courthouse in Santa Barbara have been put on hold after the California Judicial Council, which has oversight on such matters and all policy-related decisions regarding California courts, delayed 11 projects around the state.

Unless funding is restored by the Legislature in the coming months, Santa Barbara’s plans for a new courthouse will stall in the design phase, halted until the 2014-2015 budget.

“Our working group feels strongly that efforts should be made to secure full funding for this year,” said Justice Brad Hill, the chair of the Court Facilities Working Group. He said in a statement that the council is seeking the return of all or a portion of the money supposed to be used to build court facilities.

In the past 14 months, the Judicial Council has had to cancel two projects and indefinitely delay 11 more as the state continues to raid funding intended for court construction. By next year, nearly $1.5 billion originally designated for building courthouses will have been borrowed or used for other purposes. The 2013-2014 budget proposed by the governor redirects another $200 million from court construction to trial court operations, according to the Judicial Council.

Santa Barbara Superior Court officials were looking to build a new eight-courtroom facility on a spot of land next to the Figueroa Street courthouse. Santa Barbara Superior Court was recognized by the state as one of 24 sites with “immediate” or “critical” needs. Because of the design of the two courthouse facilities in the area, inmates must be walked through the halls, or even across Figueroa Street, presenting numerous safety issues. Officials hope to build a new courthouse that has internal, secure corridors to keep inmates separate from the public.


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