El Dorado County, New Placerville Courthouse

Placerville Courthouse

Superior Court of California, County of El Dorado

Funded by Senate Bill 1407
Initial Funding Year: FY 2009-2010

Historic Placerville Courthouse, inadequate to the court's needs

Current Status
This project is in site acquisition. The current expected completion date is 3 Q 2020.  

Vital Statistics
Courtrooms: 6
Square footage: 87,642
Current authorized project budget: $76,303,000
More information

In anticipation of additional cost-cutting measures, all facts are subject to change.
The Superior Court of El Dorado County provides services in two facilities within Placerville. The Placerville Main Street Branch was originally built in 1913 and is severely overcrowded. The three-story building houses four courtrooms serving criminal, family law, juvenile delinquency and dependency, and domestic violence caseloads. The court also occupies about 20 percent of the Placerville Building C Branch, located in the county government center. This building contains two courtrooms, one of which must be shared with the County Planning Commission. This facility houses administration, criminal, traffic, and civil divisions.

Both buildings are significantly lacking in security and other features to current standards. The historic courthouse lacks a jury assembly area, so prospective jurors assemble and wait in hallways. Because the building has no holding cells for in-custody defendants, they are held in jury deliberation rooms. Building C has no security screening for one of its courtrooms, lacks separate hallways for in-custody defendants, and has only two single-occupant holding cells which are frequently over capacity. Both buildings have other severe functional and physical deficiencies.

The proposed project would replace these two buildings and consolidate operations in a modern, secure facility to handle all case types. It would include space for administration, clerks, security operations and holding, a jury assembly room, a self-help center, and building support space. The proposed project also includes secure parking for judges as well as 240 spaces for on-site parking for support staff, visitors, and jurors.

A site has not yet been selected for the new courthouse. The project may benefit from a donation of land from El Dorado County. The county site will be evaluated along with other alternatives during the site selection process. (AOC letter to County Board of Supervisors, 10/07/10). The AOC will seek a site large enough to provide room for a future addition to accommodate two additional courtrooms in keeping with the court's projected needs and plans.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance

Between April 20, 2012, and May 22, 2012, the public was invited to provide comments to the AOC concerning the scope and content of environmental information to be presented in the draft environmental impact report (EIR) for this project. The EIR is a necessary step in this project's compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Notice of Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report

Further environmental work is pending.

Architecture/Engineering Firm

Dreyfuss & Blackford

Construction Manager at Risk

To be selected, schedule TBD

Subcontractor Bidding

Schedule TBD

April 2012 update

What is the impact of the state’s current budget crisis on this project?

The state Budget Act for fiscal year 2011–2012 contained unprecedented cuts to the judicial branch budget in general and to the account that funds SB 1407 projects in particular. Taking account of the state’s continuing fiscal crisis, in April 2012, the Judicial Council approved cost-reduction measures affecting all projects funded by SB 1407. News release.

As a result, this project will be required to undergo a budget reduction of 10 percent or more of hard construction costs. Further reductions beyond the minimum are expected if no compromises to safety, security, building performance, or court operations will result. This project is still in site acquisition and has not yet started architectural design, so this action is not expected to delay the project. Until the state Legislature resolves the budget for the coming fiscal year, any future impact on funding the next phases of this project is unknown. This web page will be updated with any changes.


February 2011

Why do we need a new courthouse?

The Placerville Main Street Branch was originally built in 1913 and is severely overcrowded. The court also occupies about 20 percent of the Placerville Building C Branch, located in the county government center.  Both buildings are significantly lacking in security and other features to current standards. The historic courthouse lacks a jury assembly area, so prospective jurors assemble and wait in hallways. Because the building has no holding cells for in-custody defendants, they are held in jury deliberation rooms.  Building C has no security screening for one of its courtrooms, lacks separate hallways for in-custody defendants, and has only two single-occupant holding cells which are frequently over capacity. Both buildings have other severe functional and physical deficiencies.

Who is the AOC, and why are they managing this project?

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, and construction of court facilities

How is the new courthouse funded?

The courthouse will be funded without impact to the state’s General Fund. The funds will come from statewide increases in court user fees, authorized by Senate Bill 1407, which passed in 2008. This bill approved the issuance of up to $5 billion in lease revenue bonds to fund this project and 40 others throughout the state, to be repaid by court fees, penalties, and assessments.

Why is the county spending money on a new courthouse when there are so many other local needs?

The project is funded and managed by the state and not the County. The courts are a separate branch of government, now independent of the County administrative structure. We share the same building, the County collects court-imposed fees and fines, and we work together in many areas, but we are separate branches of government.

Contact Info

Judicial Council of California
Capital Program

455 Golden Gate Avenue, 8th Floor
San Francisco, California
94102-3688
PHONE
415-865-4900

EMAIL
JBCP@jud.ca.gov
FOR COURTS TO REPORT FACILITY ISSUES
Customer Service Center:
888-225-3583 or csc@jud.ca.gov
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