Tehama County, Red Bluff Courthouse

Current Status
This project was completed in 2 Q FY 2016-2017.

Vital Statistics
Occupancy date: August 29, 2016
Courtrooms: 5
Square footage: 62,033
Current authorized project budget: $56,097,000 
More information 

In anticipation of additional cost-cutting measures, all facts are subject to change.
The Superior Court of California, County of Tehama has six separate facilities. These facilities poorly serve the growing needs of the superior court, and the lack of consolidated facilities exacerbates the functional problems of the buildings. All case types, including felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile law, limited and unlimited civil, traffic and small claims, are heard in Red Bluff and Corning.

The main courthouse is the historic Tehama Courthouse, which was constructed in 1920. This courthouse has one courtroom for civil and family cases, court administration offices, and jury services. The historic Tehama Courthouse is also occupied by several county agencies. This facility has significant security problems, severe accessibility deficiencies, is very overcrowded, and has many physical problems, making court services unsafe and inefficient.

This project will provide for a new five-courtroom building replacing all court facilities in Tehama County except the courtroom at the Juvenile Justice Center. It would consolidate the four courtrooms in Red Bluff and the one in Corning.

In late 2011, the State Public Works Board approved a site for the new courthouse, approximately 4.4 acres between Walnut Street and Hook Road, in a 26-acre parcel owned by Tehama County, with the state acquiring the property from the county for $1.2 million plus relocation costs. Buildings on the property will be demolished at the start of construction. 

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance

The Judicial Council has complied with CEQA by filing a categorical exemption for this project's site on February 3, 2011.

Tehama County Dedication Ceremony

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Architect's Rendering of New Tehama County Courthouse

Architect's Rendering: Tehama County Courthouse, Red Bluff

Architecture/Engineering Firm


Construction Manager at Risk

Rudolph and Sletten

October 2016

What is the current status of the project?

The New Red Bluff Courthouse in Tehama County was completed in 2 Q FY 2016-2017.

Why does Tehama County need a new courthouse?

The Superior Court of Tehama County operates out of two primary facilities in Red Bluff: the historic Tehama Courthouse, built in 1920 and shared with several county agencies, and the adjacent Tehama County Courts Building. Both of these courthouses are overcrowded, have security and safety issues, accessibility deficiencies, and many physical problems.

Examples of the deficiencies include:

  • Security screening is either inadequate or non-existent.
  • Deputies must escort defendants in chains through public corridors and stairways.
  • The historic courthouse is seismically deficient, and it is not feasible to retrofit it to current standards.
  • Other issues include inadequate HVAC, mechanical, and plumbing systems, fire life safety, accessibility, and security issues.

In recent years, because of the judicial branch’s budget crisis, the court has had to close other buildings, including a branch courthouse in Corning and a single courtroom in a separate building used for family law. These closures have made the overcrowding even worse.

What is the plan for the new courthouse?

This project will provide a new five-courtroom building, consolidating all court services for residents of Tehama County into a modern, adequately sized building. The courtroom at the Juvenile Justice Center will also remain open.

Was renovation considered before the plan to build a new courthouse was decided on?

The Judicial Council evaluated renovation as an option and found that it would not be feasible. The county owns both buildings, and the state cannot renovate county-owned buildings.

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.

More information:

Judicial Council
Judicial Council Staff

What will happen to the existing courthouse when the new courthouse is completed?

After the court occupies the new building and vacates its current space, the county will decide how to use the vacated space in the historic courthouse and annex. The court will consolidate operations and the state will terminate its leases, thereby saving money.

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Who is the architect on the project?

The Sacramento-based architectural firm of LPAS was selected to design the new Red Bluff Courthouse. In business for 35 years, LPAS provides architecture and sustainable design services, as well as urban planning, landscape architecture, and interior design.

How are the architects for courthouse construction projects selected?

Judicial Council staff use 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?

  • A Request for Proposals is issued to find and secure the best-qualified architecture firm.
  • Once site acquisition is completed, the architects complete design development, floor plans, and elevations, illustrating the design through renderings or scale models.
  • Once the design is complete and agreed upon, the preliminary plans are approved.
  • Once the design is complete and agreed upon, the preliminary plans are approved.
  • The design phase moves into working drawings.
  • Working drawings are approved and the project moves into construction.

Where can I see renderings of the new courthouse?

For a rendering of the new courthouse, please see the GALLERY tab.

Will the new courthouse be energy-efficient and sustainably designed?

This project has been designed to comply with CALGreen standards for energy-efficiency, water conservation, resource efficiency, and environmental quality. Sustainability features include drought-tolerant landscaping and water-efficient irrigation and plumbing systems, LED lighting for energy savings, and extensive use of materials with high recycled content. The building is also designed to qualify for LEED rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, the national standard for sustainable design.

What other factors were considered in the architectural design?

Because of the state’s budget crisis, this project was designated by the Judicial Council as a cost-reduction demonstration project. The project team identified several ways to reduce construction costs, and these were incorporated into the design. These strategies include using modified tilt-up concrete construction, eliminating a basement level, and employing commercial-grade finishes.



What is the location of the new courthouse?

The courthouse will occupy approximately 4.4 acres at 1760 Walnut Street in downtown Red Bluff, not far from the current historic courthouse. The site was purchased from the county for $1.2 million plus relocation fees.

What was the process used to select the site?

Judicial Council staff worked closely with the Superior Court and the County to determine the preferred and alternate sites. Council staff followed a standard site selection policy and 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 Tehama 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 local government throughout the site selection process.



Was an environmental review completed for the project?

Judicial Council staff are responsible for environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). As an in-fill development project, the site qualified for categorical exemption from CEQA. A Notice of Exemption under CEQA was filed in February 2011.

Will the new building be energy-efficient?

Yes. The building has been designed to consume 17 percent less energy than required by building code. The building’s sustainability features are expected to qualify it to receive a LEED rating by the U.S. Green Building Council.



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 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 initial 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, 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. Bonds to finance construction were sold in fall 2014. 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 the new Red Bluff Courthouse in years to come.

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, and has been required by the Judicial Council to undergo reductions in its construction budget, overseen by a statewide oversight committee of justices, judges, and public building experts.



Who will build the new courthouse?

Rudolph and Sletten, Inc. was selected as the construction manager at risk for this project. The Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) delivery method provides a guaranteed maximum price. The firm was involved during the design process to provide scheduling, cost, and constructability input and acts as general contractor during construction.

In business for more than 50 years, the California firm of Rudolph and Sletten has completed numerous public projects, including the award-winning new San Bernardino courthouse, which was recently completed. The firm, which is also building a new courthouse in San Diego, has particular expertise in sustainable construction.

How was the CMAR selected?

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 subcontracts and the approval to award, the CMAR becomes the general contractor. Selection criteria included 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?

The Judicial Council requires that the contractor conduct 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 the project is in architectural design, a Request for Proposals is issued to find and secure the best-qualified general contractor.
  • The CMAR in turn issues bid packages to qualified construction professionals to build the construction team.
  • The construction site is prepared, the foundation is poured, and the core of the building and protective shell are completed.
  • The building is enclosed and infrastructure systems are completed.
  • Interior fixtures and finishes are completed.
  • The newly constructed building undergoes quality control checks and the major systems are tested.

When will the courthouse be completed and operational?

Construction began in December 2014. The courthouse was completed in 2 Q FY 2016-2017.


Contact Info

Judicial Council of California
Capital Program

455 Golden Gate Avenue, 8th Floor
San Francisco, California

Customer Service Center:
888-225-3583 or csc@jud.ca.gov
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