- How Bad Are California Courthouses? Statewide Video Tour Including Banning
- Superior Court of Riverside County
Funded by Senate Bill 1732
Initial Funding Year: FY 2007-2008
The Midcounty Region of Riverside County is currently served by the Southwest Justice Center, with 12 courtrooms; the Hemet Courthouse, with 5 courtrooms; the Temecula Courthouse, with 1 courtroom; and the Banning Courthouse, with 2 courtrooms, for a total of 20 courtrooms serving the region. The New Riverside Midcounty Region Courthouse will replace the Banning Courthouse and will alleviate the shortage of space available to the superior court.
The building will include space for court administration, a court clerk, court security operations, a holding area, and facility support.
In November 2009, the AOC acquired a 4.86-acre site on Ramsey Street between Martin and East Williams streets from the city of Banning for the new courthouse.
R. L. Binder
Construction Manager at Risk
Completed. Construction began 3/12
Why do we need a new courthouse?
Located in one of the most diverse and fastest growing areas in the state, Riverside County’s Midcounty region has seen an explosive growth in population that is predicted to continue well into the future. With a rising population comes an increased need for services, and the right to justice is not exempt from this situation. The growing need for services in the region has put a strain on the courthouse’s already limited judicial capacity. The current two-courtroom Banning Courthouse that serves the Midcounty region is overcrowded, in poor physical condition, and unsafe. The current courthouse is incapable of meeting the increase in demand from a growing population.
What is the plan for the new courthouse?
The new Banning courthouse will house six courtrooms and provide space for court services, clerk and court administration, security operations, and building support. The new courthouse will replace the existing Banning Courthouse, which has two courtrooms and a hearing room in the basement. The new courthouse will also improve public and staff security with a secure sallyport for transportation of in-custody defendants.
Building the new 68,000-square-foot courthouse will solve the current space shortfall, increase security, replace an inadequate, obsolete building, and provide for the current and future needs of a rapidly growing population. The new building will be located on a five-acre site on Ramsey Street between Martin and East Williams Streets in downtown Banning.
Was renovation considered before the plan to build a new courthouse was decided on?
The current Banning Courthouse was built in 1951 with an additional two-story wing added on in 1973. The current facility is shared with the county and houses the local Sheriff’s Department and the county clerk. Built several decades ago, the building was constructed to code at the time, but is now woefully inadequate to serve the judicial needs of a growing population. Insufficient in size, the current courthouse is in extremely poor physical condition and would require an extensive and expensive retrofit to meet accessibility requirements and safety standards, as well as provide adequate space for judicial staff and offices and courthouse visitors.
Because of its inadequate size, failing structures and a growing concern for public and staff safety, renovating the courthouse is neither feasible nor responsible. Examples of functional and physical problems include:
Who is the AOC, and why are they managing this project? What is the Judicial Council?
The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) is the staff arm of the Judicial Council of California. 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 AOC 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 public was invited to view designs for the new courthouse and comment during a presentation given by architects R. L. Binder to the City Council.
What will happen to the current courthouse when the new courthouse is completed?
As the new Banning Justice Center nears completion in 2013, the AOC, the Superior Court of Riverside County, and the County will work together to explore options for use of the space that the court will be vacating in the current courthouse.
Who is the construction manager at risk on the project?
Gilbane Building Company is the construction manager at risk. In business since 1873, the company is a family-owned, fourth-generation general contractor and has completed numerous California public construction projects. In 2010, the company was honored for its work on two public education facilities with the Project Achievement Award from the Northern California Chapter of the Construction Management Association of America.
How was the contractor selected?
The AOC uses a construction manager at risk (CMAR) for delivery of projects such as the new Banning courthouse. The CMAR method entails a commitment to deliver the project within a guaranteed maximum price. The competitive selection process factors 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 subcontractors and the approval to award, the CMAR becomes the general contractor for the project. Selection criteria for the project CMAR includes an evaluation of the firm’s plan for outreach to local subcontractors, ensuring that qualified local firms are fully aware of the bidding opportunity, process, and timeline. For this competitive selection, the AOC received 28 proposals and conducted interviews with the six most qualified firms, from which Gilbane. Inc. was selected.
What are the key milestones in building the courthouse?
When will the courthouse be completed and operational?
Construction began in March 2012; the courthouse is scheduled for completion in fall 2013.
What are the AOC’s policies with regard to local hiring and purchasing during design and construction? How did members of the public find out about those opportunities?
Once the AOC selected the construction manager at risk, that company became the general contractor on the project. It did an outreach to local subcontractors, ensuring that qualified local firms were fully aware of the bidding opportunity, process, and timeline. All qualified subcontractors, lower-tier subcontractors, and suppliers were considered.
What is the location of the new courthouse?
The new courthouse is being built on a five-acre site located at 311 East Ramsey Street between Martin and East Williams Streets in downtown Banning. The site was purchased from the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Banning.
What was the process used to select the site?
Over 25 sites were vetted by the Project Advisory Group and evaluated based on site criteria specifications. Of those, two sites were selected for submittal for approval to the State Public Works Board.
The AOC worked closely with the Superior Court and with a Banning Courthouse Project Advisory Group that included judges and court staff. The AOC followed a standard site selection policy and process. The process involved objectively evaluating all potential sites and selecting at least two sites that met agreed-upon criteria for the proposed new courthouse in providing access to justice for this portion of Riverside County inside the Banning area, within the confines of the project’s budget and schedule. The Presiding Judge signed off on a preferred and alternate site, and the site selection was approved by the Administrative Director of the Courts (who heads the AOC) and the State Public Works Board.
Why does the AOC 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 the AOC responsible for operations, maintenance, and repairs, as well as site acquisition, planning, design, and construction of capital projects that replace or renovate courthouses. The AOC works closely with each affected Superior Court and justice agency stakeholders throughout the process of replacing or renovating courthouses. Officials from Riverside County and the City of Banning were closely involved in the siting process.
What environmental review was conducted on the site before it was developed?
The AOC is the lead agency for environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The Banning site qualified for categorical exemption from further review under the CEQA because the agency concluded that infill development of this previously developed commercial site, which had been cleared and vacant since 2000, would not create significant environmental impacts.
How is the new courthouse being funded?The courthouse is being funded without impact to the state’s General Fund. The funds come from statewide increases in court user fees, authorized by the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002. This bill approved the issuance of lease-revenue bonds to fund this project, to be repaid by court fees, penalties, and assessments. Bonds were sold for this project in fall 2011.
How did the state arrive at its budget for the project?
The AOC develops 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, the AOC adds all project soft costs, which include 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?
The Banning, Riverside County courthouse was authorized under the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002 which transferred responsibility for court facilities—their repair, renovation and construction—from counties to the state. To fund desperately needed renovations and repairs, penalty assessments and parking offense penalties were increased, and civil filing fee surcharges were created. 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. The state sold bonds for this project in November 2011. Once the courthouse is completed and occupied, the same revenue stream will repay those bonds over 35 years. This means that funds from other court jurisdictions will support Banning’s critical needs in years to come.
What is the impact of the state’s current budget crisis on this project?
The recent cost-cutting initiatives on statewide court construction, including reassessment of 13 projects and budget trimming on 24 other projects, will not affect construction already underway on the new Banning Justice Center. Because the state has already sold bonds for this project and has an identified funding pool to repay them, and because the building is already under construction, no further budget-related delays are expected.
Who is the architect on the project?
R.L Binder was the architect selected to design the new Banning Courthouse. Established in 1979, R.L. Binder provides programming and design services, and has been recognized as a leading design firm located in California. The company has won numerous awards for its work including the 2001 Firm of the Year Award from the California Council of the American Institute of Architects.
How was the architect selected?
The AOC uses a competitive selection process, factoring in qualitative criteria, such as the firm’s experience, as well as its fee.
What are the key milestones in designing the courthouse?
Where can I see renderings of the new courthouse?
Renderings are posted on the project web page under the GALLERY tab.
Will the new courthouse be energy efficient and sustainably designed?
The Justice Banning Center has been designed to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. This is a national standard for sustainable design. Energy efficiency is among its key criteria.
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