- How Bad Are California Courthouses? Statewide Video Tour Including Banning
- Superior Court of Riverside County
Funded by Senate Bill 1407
Initial Funding Year: FY 2009-2010
This project will provide a new five-courtroom facility to consolidate all family court and juvenile court functions in the Desert Region.
The Juvenile Courthouse was constructed in 1955. This courthouse has two small courtrooms and is co-located with the county juvenile detention facility. The juvenile court is currently unsafe, substandard in size, and overcrowded. It has numerous deficiencies that create critical security concerns, including substandard security screening equipment due to lack of space; unsecured judicial parking; an in-custody waiting area located in a corridor used by judicial officers and staff; and a non-secure room used for adult holding.
The Larson Justice Center was constructed in 1997, and family law is conducted in 2 of its 12 courtrooms. These two courtrooms will be combined with the juvenile courtrooms to consolidate current family and juvenile operations, freeing up space to accommodate two new judgeships. This project will also provide one additional courtroom to support one new judgeship.
In January 2011, the Judicial Council received approval from the State Public Works Board to acquire four acres adjacent to juvenile hall in Indio, between Oasis Street and Avenue 48, for the new courthouse. The state will also acquire the county’s interest in the existing courthouse, which will be demolished after construction of the new building.
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance
The Judicial Council complied with CEQA by filing a categorical exemption for this project's preferred site on December 28, 2009.
Construction Manager at Risk
C. W. Driver
What is the current status of the project?
The New Indio Juvenile and Family Courthouse in Riverside County is currently in the architectural design-preliminary plans phase, with an expected construction completion date in fall 2019. This schedule is subject to change.
Why does Riverside County need a new juvenile and family courthouse in Indio?
Located in one of the most diverse and fastest growing areas in the state, Riverside County’s desert region has seen an explosive growth in population predicted to continue well into the future. A growing need for juvenile and family court services in the region has put a strain on the court’s already limited capacity. Currently, the Superior Court of Riverside County provides juvenile and family law services from two facilities within the desert region: The Juvenile Courthouse and the Larson Justice Center. Located adjacent to the county-owned juvenile detention center in Indio, the state-owned Juvenile Courthouse handles juvenile dependency and delinquency matters for children under the age of 18. The Larson Justice Center is the main courthouse and provides a full range of services, including family law services: adoptions, divorce, legal separation, paternity, child custody and visitation, and domestic violence.
The current juvenile courthouse has many security issues, including a lobby that is too small to house modern security-screening equipment. It also is unsafe, overcrowded, and has numerous physical, seismic, accessibility, and efficiency issues, limiting the court’s ability to provide access to justice for desert region residents. Examples include:
What is the plan for the new courthouse?
The new Indio Juvenile and Family Courthouse in Riverside County will include five courtrooms in approximately 55,000 square feet. The new courthouse will increase efficiency by consolidating all family and juvenile court operations under one roof in a modern, secure building that will better serve desert region residents. It will provide juvenile services not currently offered to desert area residents due to the limited space in the current juvenile courthouse. The new courthouse will be located adjacent to the Juvenile Hall. It will include appropriately sized courtrooms, an adequately sized self-help center, a children’s waiting room, attorney/client conference rooms, and ADA accessibility. Enhanced security features will include adequate entrance screening of all court users, a secure sallyport, adequately sized in-custody holding for juvenile and adult in-custody detainees, and improved fire/life safety systems. The Larson Justice Center will continue to hear criminal, traffic, probate, and small claims cases.
Was renovation considered before the plan to build a new courthouse was decided on?
The Judicial Council evaluated renovation of the current Indio Juvenile Courthouse and found that it would not be feasible, due to the space limits, security issues, and physical problems.
Who is the Judicial Council, and why are they managing this project?
The Judicial Council is the policymaking body for the California court system, including the trial courts, known as Superior Courts, based in each county. Among other responsibilities, the council through its Capital Program office is responsible for planning, acquisition, design, renovation, and construction of court facilities. The new courthouse will be owned by the judicial branch.
How has the local community had input regarding the courthouse project?
The Project Advisory Group, required by Rules of Court and state law, is the main source of ongoing community input to the project. The Project Advisory Group is composed of community leaders. Judicial Council staff work with the group throughout the site selection, design, and construction process. In addition, project updates will be posted to the California Courts website, and media advisories will be distributed at key milestones.
What will happen to the court’s current facilities when the new courthouse is completed?
After the new courthouse is completed and the juvenile calendars move out of the Indio Juvenile Courthouse and Larson Justice Center, the existing juvenile courthouse will be demolished to allow for construction of the new courthouse. The Larson Justice Center will continue to hear criminal, traffic, probate, and small claims cases.
Where will the new courthouse be located?
The new courthouse will be located on the site of the existing juvenile courthouse on Oasis Street near Avenue 48 and adjacent to the County’s Juvenile Hall. The Judicial Council purchased the approximately 4-acre site in May 2011 from Riverside County for $2.84 million. The transaction also involved an equity exchange for the county’s space in the state-owned Indio Juvenile Courthouse.
What was the process used to select the site?
Judicial Council staff worked closely with the Superior Court and the Project Advisory Group, which includes community leaders, to determine the preferred and alternate site. Council staff followed a standard site selection process. The process involved objectively evaluating potential sites and selecting at least two sites that met agreed-upon criteria for the proposed new courthouse in providing access to justice for residents of Riverside County, within the confines of the project’s budget and schedule.
Why does the Judicial Council decide where the new court is built? Why isn't this a County decision?
Historically, trial courts functioned largely as county departments, but that changed in 2002, with passage of the Trial Court Facilities Act. This law made the State of California responsible for court facilities statewide, rather than the counties. The law gave the Judicial Council responsibility for facilities owned or occupied by the courts and made it responsible for operations, maintenance, and repairs, as well as site acquisition, planning, design, and construction of capital projects that replace or renovate courthouses. Council staff work closely with each affected Superior Court and the Project Advisory Group throughout the site selection process.
Was an environmental review completed for the project?
The Judicial Council is the lead agency for environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Staff evaluated the proposed project and determined the project would not create significant environmental impacts on this previously developed site. A Notice of Exemption was filed on December 28, 2009.
Will the new building be energy-efficient and sustainably designed?
Yes. The building will be designed with attention to sustainability. The building’s sustainability features are expected to qualify it for at least LEED Silver certification, and possibly LEED Gold, by the U.S. Green Building Council. This is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance “green” buildings.
How is the new courthouse being funded?
The courthouse was ranked as an “Immediate 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, enacted in 2008 to provide up to $5 billion in bond funding for new and renovated courthouses using court fees, penalties, and assessments rather than taxpayer revenues from the state’s General Fund.
How did the state arrive at its budget for the project?
Council staff develop each project budget by first determining the building size, site size, and number of parking spaces. Then it provides this information to a professional cost estimating firm that creates a hard construction cost for the building and site work. To this, staff add all project soft costs, which includes all costs associated with evaluating, selecting, and acquiring a site, analysis required to comply with CEQA, the fee for the architecture and engineering team, geotechnical testing, project management and construction management fees, commissioning fees, and the cost of furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
How can the state afford a new courthouse at all, given current state finances?
To fund desperately needed renovations and repairs, criminal penalties and assessments, parking offense penalties, and civil filing fees were created or increased. This ensured a revenue stream to finance courthouse construction and renovations, promising these projects would be paid for from within the court system rather than drawing on the state's General Fund or local taxes. When the project is ready for construction, the state will sell bonds to finance the project. Once the courthouse is completed and occupied, the same revenue stream will repay those bonds over 25 years.
What is the impact of the state’s current budget crisis on this project?
Since 2009, $1.8 billion in court construction funds have been borrowed, swept to the General Fund, or redirected to court operations. As a result, this project, as with other courthouse projects statewide, has been subjected to delays. In addition, every Senate Bill 1407 project has been required by the Judicial Council to undergo budget reductions. These reductions are overseen by a statewide oversight committee of justices, judges, and public building experts established by the Judicial Council.
Who is the architect on the project?
CO Architects was selected to design the new Indio Juvenile and Family Courthouse in Riverside County. Founded in 1996 and based in Los Angeles, the company provides building and landscape architecture, interior design, facility evaluation, and comprehensive planning for civic, academic, healthcare, and science and technology projects. CO Architects also designed the new Porterville Courthouse in Tulare County. In 2014, CO Architects received the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design’s American Architecture Award and the American Institute of Architects California Council Firm Award.
How are the architects for courthouse construction projects selected?
Judicial Council staff follow a competitive, qualifications-based process to select the architects. Qualifications under consideration include the experience of the design and technical staff, the previous experience of the firm, and other criteria. Once the firm is selected, the fee is negotiated, and an award is made.
What are the key milestones in designing the courthouse?
Where can I see renderings of the new courthouse?
When available, renderings will be posted on the project web page under the GALLERY tab.
Will the new courthouse be energy-efficient and sustainably designed?
Most courthouse projects funded by SB 1407 are being designed to qualify for LEED Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. This is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance “green” buildings. Once design and construction are complete, this courthouse may actually qualify for the next level higher: LEED Gold. The courthouse design will meet the energy-efficiency requirements set forth in LEED as well as by California Energy Code.
Who will build the new courthouse?
California-based C.W. Driver has been selected as the construction manager at risk (CMAR) on the project. In business for nearly 100 years, the company provides preconstruction, construction, and sustainability services and is experienced in civic, government, education, and healthcare construction. C.W. Driver has been named as one of the Top 100 National Construction Managers and General Contractors by Engineering-News Record magazine.
How was the CMAR selected?
The CMAR was selected through a competitive process factoring in qualitative criteria, such as the firm’s experience, as well as the contractor’s fee. The CMAR is retained early in the project for preconstruction services. Following a competitive bid for all subcontracts and the approval to award, the CMAR becomes the general contractor. Selection criteria include an evaluation of the firm’s plan for outreach to local subcontractors, ensuring that qualified local firms are fully aware of the bidding opportunity, the process, and the timeline.
What are the Judicial Council's policies with regard to local hiring and purchasing during design and construction? How will members of the public find out about these opportunities?
Once bonds are sold for this project and it is ready to be put out to bid, the construction manager at risk will become the general contractor. Before the project goes into construction, the contractor will conduct an outreach to local subcontractors, ensuring that qualified local firms are fully aware of the bidding opportunity, process, and timeline. All qualified subcontractors, lower-tier subcontractors, and suppliers will be considered.
What are the key milestones in building the courthouse?
When will the courthouse be completed and operational?
Construction is currently scheduled to begin in spring 2017; the courthouse is scheduled for completion in fall 2019. This schedule is subject to change.
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