- How Bad Are California Courthouses? Statewide Video Tour Including Banning
- Superior Court of Riverside County
The Hemet courthouse handles civil, small claims, family law, probate, and traffic cases, but not criminal trials, which are currently handled in Murrieta, more than 20 miles away, or in courthouses even further away. The current Hemet courthouse is overcrowded, substandard in size, and physically deficient, and the property surrounding it is too small to accommodate further additions or renovations.
The proposed project would create a full-service courthouse in the Hemet area to replace the current facility, securely accommodate criminal trials, and provide space for four new judgeships. The project would also enable the court to provide basic services currently not possible due to space restrictions, such as jury assembly and deliberation rooms, an adequately sized self-help center, a children's waiting room, and attorney interview/witness waiting rooms.
A site has not been selected for the new courthouse. To meet the planned building and parking requirements, a site of approximately 5.2 acres will be needed.
Construction Manager at Risk
To be selected, schedule TBD
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 is being reassessed to explore lease option opportunities. The reassessment will also evaluate lower-cost construction methods, with the goal of significantly reducing the project’s hard construction costs where that does not jeopardize the building’s safety, security, building performance, or court operations. At this time, the timeline for reassessment is not known, so the impact on the project’s overall schedule remains to be seen. 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.
Why is a new courthouse needed?
The existing Hemet Courthouse facility is overcrowded, substandard in size, physically deficient and cannot fully serve the growing needs of Riverside County's residents. The facility lacks secure circulation and an adequate holding facility and therefore it does not accommodate criminal trials. The proposed new courthouse would provide the Superior Court of Riverside County with a full-service courthouse and will provide space for four new judgeships.
Who owns the existing courthouse?
Under the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002, responsibility of all trial court facilities transferred from the counties to the state. The Hemet Courthouse transfer was completed in 2008, so the state now owns the courthouse.
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.
Why is money being spent on a new courthouse when there are so many other local needs and there is a state budget crisis?
The courts comprise the judicial branch of state government, now independent of the County administrative structure. The project is funded and managed by the State and not the County. It uses funds approved by the state Legislature in 2008 specifically for courthouse construction. These funds come from court fees and fines collected for this purpose according to statute, specifically Senate Bill 1407, so new court construction funds do not come from the state's General Fund.
What is the timeline for this project?
The project is currently in site selection and acquisition, which is expected to continue until early 2013. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid 2015, with completion scheduled by mid-2017, but as indicated above, this timeline is subject to change.
Where will the courthouse be located?
Approval of two potential sites is a standard part of the State’s site selection process for courthouse projects. The local Project Advisory Group, which includes members of the local community in addition to representatives of the superior court and the AOC, has validated the selection of two potential sites for the new courthouse.
The first proposed site consists of approximately five acres in the Menifee Town Center, which is being developed near Newport and Haun Roads, approximately two blocks from Interstate 215 in the City of Menifee. The proposed courthouse site is in that development on Sherman Road, in an area envisioned as a future government center. This site was chosen for its proximity to the freeway and its location central to the vast area to be served by the future courthouse.
The second proposed site is in the Hemet Redevelopment area. The second site consists of approximately eight acres near Devonshire and Buena Vista Streets, approximately two blocks north of Florida Street and two blocks east of State Street.
What is the current status of site selection?
In November 2011, the State Public Works Board (SPWB) approved the first site in Menifee. The AOC will submit the second site for SPWB approval early in 2012. SPWB approval allows the AOC to undertake further due diligence, environmental assessment under the California Environmental Quality Act, and negotiations with sellers that will ultimately result in finalization of the site. Site selection and environmental review, as well as site acquisition, which also requires SPWB approval, must be completed before architectural design of the new courthouse can begin.
Who is the architect for the project?
The project will be designed by Perkins+Will Architects, a nationally recognized firm established in 1935 with extensive experience in Southern California. The firm’s design experience spans civic and cultural, corporate, commercial, healthcare, and education clients. In April 2010, ARCHITECT Magazine ranked Perkins+Will number two for its commitment to sustainability and green design. Among its Southern California buildings are the Rampart Station and Harbor Station for the Los Angeles Police Department, House Ear Institute, Wallis Annenberg Research Center, and the Neuroscience Research Building at the University of California, Los Angeles.
What is the size of the new courthouse?
The proposed new courthouse will house nine courtrooms, space for court administration, the court clerk, court security operations and holding, a jury assembly room, and building support space in approximately 116,300 square feet. The proposed building will be two to three stories tall, surrounded by landscaping and parking. The building may have an enclosed penthouse to conceal roof top mechanical equipment. The proposed site of the new courthouse will also include associated surface parking for visitors, jurors and court staff.
Will the new courthouse be a parolee release center?
The replacement Hemet court is being planned as a full-service courthouse. The release of parolees is handled by the county probation department.
In 2009, the State set up a three-year pilot program for parolee reentry pilot courts in seven California counties, using federal grant funds. The current participants are courts in Alameda, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, and Santa Clara. Riverside was never part of this program, and there are currently no funds or plans to expand it. In short, there are no plans for this courthouse to take part in any parolee release program.
Will the new courthouse be energy-efficient and sustainably designed?
All courthouse projects funded by SB 1407 are being designed to achieve a 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. More information on LEED
Will the project hire local contractors and suppliers?
The AOC will contract with a construction manager at risk to provide preconstruction services and then to manage construction of the project. The selection of that firm and their work on the project will include local outreach to ensure qualified local first-tier and lower-tier subcontractors and suppliers have the opportunity to bid on the construction work.
Will the local community have input on this project? How can it stay informed?
The project advisory group is the main source of ongoing community input to the project. The AOC understands that the general public would like input as well, and will provide accurate and timely information throughout the site selection, design, and construction project phases: Updates will be posted to the California Courts website, and media advisories are distributed at key milestones.
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