Santa Barbara County, Santa Barbara Criminal Courthouse

Front of Santa Barbara Courthouse

Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara

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

Proposed project would replace the Figueroa Courthouse

Current Status
This project is in architectural design-preliminary plans with a current expected completion date of 2 Q 2021.

Vital Statistics
Courtrooms: 8
Square footage: 92,331
Current authorized project budget: $97,831,000 
More information

In anticipation of additional cost-cutting measures, all facts are subject to change

The Superior Court of Santa Barbara County serves residents of South County from the historic Anacapa courthouse, the Figueroa courthouse across the street, and a small Jury Services building nearby. These facilities are overcrowded and have severe security problems and many physical deficiencies, including inadequate parking.

The new Santa Barbara Criminal Courthouse will increase efficiency and security by consolidating all criminal and traffic court operations in one modern, secure building for the south district. It will also co-locate jury services with the criminal courtrooms. The new facility will relieve the historic Anacapa courthouse of criminal proceedings and replace the Figueroa courthouse and Jury Services building, both of which would be vacated by the court once the new building is completed.

The project will also provide basic services not currently provided to south district court users due to limited space, including appropriately sized courtrooms, jury deliberation rooms, an adequately sized self-help center, a children's waiting room, attorney/client interview rooms, and ADA accessibility. Enhanced security features would include entrance screening of all court users and adequately sized in-custody holding.

The new courthouse will be located on Santa Barbara Street, next to the Figueroa courthouse and across the street from the historic courthouse. Site acquisition was completed in mid-2012.

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance

Judicial Council staff has complied with CEQA by filing a categorical exemption for this project on April 12, 2011.


Architecture/Engineering Firm

Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners

Construction Manager at Risk

To be selected, schedule TBD

Subcontractor Bidding

Schedule TBD

January 2015 

What is the project's current status?

The New Santa Barbara County Criminal Courthouse is in architectural design-preliminary plans, with a current expected completion date of 2 Q 2021.


May 2012

What is the New Santa Barbara Criminal Courthouse?

The proposed courthouse includes the construction of a new criminal courthouse and parking for the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara (Superior Court). The courthouse includes eight courtrooms, space to support courthouse operations, and improved security including a larger holding facility for in-custody defendants who are daily transported by the Sheriff from the main jail for their court appearances. In addition to the courthouse, off-site parking will be built to support the courthouse as well as county parking potentially displaced by the project. See Figures 1 and 2 at the end of this document for a Project Site Map and Conceptual Site Plan.

Why is a new courthouse needed?

The existing Superior Court has criminal courtrooms in both the Historic “Anacapa” Courthouse as well as in the Figueroa Division Courthouse. These courtrooms and supporting facilities no longer function well for criminal proceedings. Both facilities are severely lacking in security, for court staff, the public, jurors and witnesses. Prisoners cannot be moved from their holding cells in the basement into any of the trial courtrooms without crossing through public areas often including crossing a public street. In addition, the Figueroa Division Courthouse is overcrowded and has other physical deficiencies that impact the delivery of services. The new courthouse will be used to accommodate the existing caseload and new security requirements; there will be no new criminal courtrooms and no new employees added to the Superior Court as part of this project.

Where will the new courthouse be located?

The new courthouse will be located at 1025 Santa Barbara Street, adjacent to the Figueroa Courthouse. Acquisition was completed in mid-2012.

Who owns the existing court facilities?

In 2002, the Trial Court Facilities Act made the state responsible for court facilities statewide. As part of a transfer agreement between the county and the Judicial Council assumed ownership of the Figueroa Division Courthouse and the Jury Assembly Building. The transfer agreement also specified that the County of Santa Barbara would continue to own the Historic “Anacapa” Courthouse. The Superior Court currently occupies and conducts business in all three buildings in south Santa Barbara County plus a small, remote juvenile facility.

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.

Why can’t the existing courthouse be renovated?

Council staff studied the feasibility of renovating the existing Figueroa Division Courthouse and found that even with a new addition, the existing courthouse would not be large enough to accommodate all of the court’s requirements to address critical security issues, nor the significant space shortfall that has occurred under the existing overcrowded facilities, nor would a new addition comply with the State Trial Court Facilities Standards. A renovation and addition of the existing courthouse would not provide adequate courtroom layouts or adequate security. Construction in the existing Figueroa Division Courthouse would also greatly disrupt court operations for an extended period of time, take longer to construct, and preliminary cost estimates determined that this option, which necessitates the temporary relocation of the court and at least six (6) fully operating courtrooms including a daytime holding facility for in-custody defendants, would cost as much or more than constructing a new courthouse.

How is the new courthouse being funded?

The proposed courthouse will be funded though a statewide increases in court fees, penalties, and assessments 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. Since the funding from these projects comes from court “user fees” (court fees, penalties and assessments) collected by all 58 courts in California, the projects do not impact the state's General Fund.

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

Since 2009, $1.7 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 several delays, and has been required by the Judicial Council to undergo reductions to its construction budget, overseen by a statewide oversight committee of justices, judges, and public building experts. Funding of future phases of this project depends in part on what happens to court construction funds in future fiscal years. This web page will be updated with any changes.

How many courtrooms will be in the new Santa Barbara courthouse?

The proposed new Santa Barbara Criminal Courthouse will have eight courtrooms replacing the six criminal courtrooms in the existing Figueroa Division and two criminal courtrooms that are in the Historic “Anacapa” Courthouse directly across the street. While these courtrooms are already in downtown Santa Barbara, they are deficient and are not secure. Beyond replacing these inadequate, existing courtrooms, there will be no new courtrooms or staff added to the new courthouse.

Who is the architect for the project?

Council staff received numerous proposals for architectural services for the proposed new Santa Barbara Criminal Courthouse. Staff and the Santa Barbara Superior Court interviewed a short list of qualified architects. The award-winning firm of Moore Ruble Yudell Architects and Planners of Santa Monica was selected. A local architect will also be selected to participate on the design team in an effort to ensure local design sensitivities. Local architects are currently being interviewed and a selection is expected by the end of April.

How will the local community have input regarding the courthouse project?

Council staff recognize the importance of the local identity and historic presence of the court. It also recognizes the importance of community input on this project. The state’s funding process does not release design funds until acquisition of potential sites is complete; therefore, staff have not yet begun detailed design for this project. When the project is approved and design work begins, there are several avenues through which the local community will have input in the new courthouse project, including:

The Project Advisory Group -- Currently, the Superior Court and a number of community leaders are involved in the project as members of the Project Advisory Group (PAG). Council staff involved a PAG with every capital project. The PAG advises on site selection, selection of the architectural team, programming, and other issues related to a new courthouse.

  • The Design Advisory Group (DAG) -- A DAG will be formed and will be unique to the Santa Barbara courthouse. The DAG will be made up of members of the local community and will provide appropriate input into the design of the courthouse at identified project milestones. The DAG is being formed in recognition of the unique and historic nature of downtown Santa Barbara and the effort to ensure community input.
  • Community Meetings -- Council staff will hold public meetings at key milestones in the design process to ensure the community is informed about the project and will solicit input regarding the project design. These meetings will include the participation of the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission and Planning Commission.

These three vehicles are being established so that the project architect is able to develop a building that meets the court's operational needs, as well as reflects community input. The architect is committed to producing a highly functional, high-quality courthouse design that will complement and enhance the architectural context of historic, downtown Santa Barbara.

Will the project hire local contractors and use local suppliers?

Judicial Council staff will contract with a Construction Manager to manage construction of the project, including local outreach to ensure qualified local subcontractors and suppliers have the opportunity to bid on construction work.

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 can be found here:  
*LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), adapted from GBC’s FAQ doc.

How will the community stay informed about the project?

The Judicial Council posts updates to the project on the project website, which can be found here:


Contact Info

Judicial Council of California
Capital Program

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

Customer Service Center:
888-225-3583 or
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