Funded by Senate Bill 1407
Initial Funding Year: FY 2009-2010
This project is in architectural design-working drawings with a current expected completion date of 4 Q 2018.
Square footage: 45,300
Current authorized project budget: $49,688,000
In anticipation of additional cost-cutting measures, all facts are subject to change.
The Lakeport Courthouse was constructed in 1968. The court occupies only the 4th floor of this shared-use building. This overcrowded faciity has significant security problems, severe accessibility deficiencies, and many physical problems preventing the court from providing safe and efficient court services to the public.
The project will provide a four-courtroom courthouse to replace the existing Lakeport Courthouse and leased Records Storage Annex and will include support space for court administration, court clerk, court security operations and holding; and building support space.
In early 2011, the Judicial Council acquired a site for the new courthouse located at 675 Lakeport Boulevard, within city limits near downtown Lakeport. The site has good access from Highway 29 and Lakeport Boulevard and is close to services that will make it convenient for court users.
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance
Through its staff, the Judicial Council is the lead agency for preparation of an environmental report to comply with CEQA.
August 23, 2010, to September 22, 2010: Draft Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration circulated. The draft study evaluated the potential environmental impacts of the proposed project and recommended mitigation measures.
September 15, 2010: Public meeting held.
In response to public comments, council staff completed a Final Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration. (33 MB)
On December 9, 2010, council staff filed a Notice of Determination, thereby completing the CEQA process.
Architect's rendering: New Lakeport Courthouse, from Lakeport Boulevard
Architect's rendering: New Lakeport Courthouse, view at entry plaza
Mark Cavagnero and Associates
Construction Manager at Risk
What is the current status of the project?
The new Lake County Courthouse is in the architectural design-working drawings phase, with an expected construction completion date in fall 2018. This schedule is subject to change.
Why does Lake County need a new courthouse?
The Superior Court of Lake County occupies the fourth floor of the county-owned Lakeport Courthouse, a building it shares with other county agencies. All case types, including felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile law, civil, traffic, and small claims, are heard at this facility. The court also uses an off-site annex to store court records.
Built in 1968, the courthouse is severely overcrowded, has seismic and foundation concerns, and lacks adequate security, causing unnecessary risk to the public and staff who use the building. In addition, the court’s space is overcrowded and has significant accessibility and efficiency issues. These combined problems prevent the court from providing safe, secure and efficient court services to Lake County residents. Examples include:
What is the plan for the new courthouse?
The project will consolidate the Court’s space in the Lakeport Courthouse and the offsite storage annex into a modern, two-story courthouse with four courtrooms in 45,300 square feet. It will handle all the current case types: criminal, civil, family, traffic, small claims, juvenile and probate proceedings. Improved security features will include separate hallways for the public, court staff, and those in custody, adequately sized and separate holding areas for in-custody adult and juvenile detainees, adequate public parking, a secure sallyport, and security screening for all court users. The project will also provide adequate space for services including a self-help center, appropriately sized jury assembly and deliberation rooms, family court mediation and attorney interview/witness waiting rooms. The new courthouse will be located inside the city limits near downtown Lakeport, providing improved access to justice for Lake County residents.
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 court’s space in the Lakeport Courthouse is inadequate to meet the needs of a modern courthouse. In addition, Lake County owns the courthouse, and the state cannot, in the majority of cases, renovate a building it does not own.
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.
Judicial Council Staff
How has the local community had input regarding the courthouse project?
Initially, public input was a part of the environmental review process. The Judicial Council was the lead agency for environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). In February 2010, the Judicial Council prepared an Initial Study for the proposed project. In August 2010, the Judicial Council issued a Notice of Intent to adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) and a notice regarding the opportunity for public comment. The notice was mailed to interested parties. An abbreviated version of the notice was published in the local paper as well. The public comment period ran from August 23 through September 22, 2010. On September 15, 2010, the Judicial Council held a public meeting to take comments on the MND as well as answer any questions about the proposed project.
Following the completion of the CEQA process, the Project Advisory Group, required by Rules of Court and state law, remains the main source of ongoing community input to the project. The Project Advisory Group is composed of community, legal, and government leaders. Judicial Council staff work with the group throughout the site selection, design, and construction process. Project updates will be posted to the California Courts website, and media advisories will be distributed at key milestones.
What will happen to the court’s current facilities when the new courthouse is completed?
After the court vacates the fourth floor of the county-owned Lakeview Courthouse, the County—which owns the building—will eventually be able to utilize the vacated space to help address its space needs. The lease for the offsite storage annex will be terminated.
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Where will the new courthouse be located?
The state acquired a 5.74-acre, privately-owned site near downtown Lakeport for the new courthouse. Located at 675 Lakeport Boulevard, the property is accessible from Highway 29 and close to services that will make it convenient for court users. The new courthouse will be built on the north side of the property and will not interfere with the scenic views of Clear Lake from Vista Point, which is immediately west of the new courthouse site.
What was the process used to select the site?
Judicial Council staff worked closely with the Superior Court and the Project Advisory Group, which includes community, legal, and government leaders to determine the preferred and alternate site. Council staff followed a standard site selection 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 Lake 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 the Project Advisory Group throughout the site selection process.
Was an environmental review completed for the project?
The Judicial Council was the lead agency for the environmental review for the new courthouse. The CEQA process included:
Will the new building be energy-efficient and sustainably designed?
Yes. The building will be designed with attention to sustainability. The building’s sustainability features are expected to qualify it for 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.
How is the new courthouse being funded?
The courthouse was ranked as a “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 bond 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 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, criminal penalties and assessments, parking offense penalties, and civil filing fees were created or increased. 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. When the project is ready for construction, the state will sell bonds to finance the project. Once the courthouse is completed and occupied, the same revenue stream will repay those bonds over 25 years.
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. In addition, every Senate Bill 1407 project has been required by the Judicial Council to undergo budget reductions. These reductions are overseen by a statewide oversight committee of justices, judges, and public building experts established by the Judicial Council.
Who is the architect on the project?
San Francisco based Mark Cavagnero Associates Architects was selected to design the new Lake County Courthouse. In business for over 50 years, the company provides architecture, planning, and sustainability design services for civic, commercial, education, and cultural projects. The firm was ranked number 10 in Architect Magazine’s 2014 The Architect 50. In 2012, the company won the American Institute of Architects, California Council Firm Award and the Western Council of Construction Consumers Project Excellence Award for the Judicial Council’s Mammoth Lakes Courthouse construction project.
How are the architects for courthouse construction projects selected?
Judicial Council staff follow a competitive, qualifications-based process to select the architects. Qualifications under consideration include the experience of the design and technical staff, the previous experience of the firm, and other criteria. Once the firm is selected, the fee is negotiated, and an award is made.
What are the key milestones in designing the courthouse?
Where can I see renderings of the new courthouse?
Renderings for this project are posted on the project web page under the GALLERY tab.
Will the new courthouse be energy-efficient and sustainably designed?
Most courthouse projects funded by SB 1407 are being designed to qualify for 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. The courthouse design will meet the energy-efficiency requirements set forth in LEED as well as by California Energy Code.
Who will build the new courthouse?
Plant Construction LLP of San Francisco has been selected as the construction manager at risk on the project. In business since 1947, the company provides preconstruction, construction management, and green consulting services and is experienced in civic and government construction and historic restoration.
How was the CMAR selected?
The CMAR was selected through a competitive process factoring 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 include 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?
Once bonds are sold for this project and it is ready to be put out to bid, the construction manager at risk will become the general contractor. Before the project goes into construction, the contractor will conduct an 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 will the courthouse be completed and operational?
Construction is currently scheduled to begin in winter 2016; the courthouse is scheduled for completion in fall 2018. This schedule is subject to change.
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