- How Bad Are California Courthouses? Statewide Video Tour Including Banning
- Superior Court of Riverside County
Funded by Senate Bill 1732
Initial Funding Year: FY 2007-2008
The new Banning Justice Center replaced the undersized Banning Courthouse, alleviating the shortage of space available to the superior court. The building includes six courtrooms, space for court administration, a court clerk, court security operations, a holding area, and facility support.
In November 2009, the Judicial Council acquired a 4.86-acre site on Ramsey Street between Martin and East Williams streets from the city of Banning for the new courthouse.
Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Banning site qualified for a categorical exemption. Judicial Council staff concluded that infill development of this previously developed commercial site, which had been cleared and vacant since 2000, would not create significant environmental impacts.
Banning Justice Center Groundbreaking, Feb 12, 2012 (3:10)
R. L. Binder
Construction Manager at Risk
Completed. Construction began 3/12
What is the current status of the project?
The New Riverside County Banning Justice Center was completed in 1 Q 2015.
Why does Banning need a new courthouse?
Located in one of the most diverse and fastest growing areas in the state, Riverside County’s Midcounty region has seen an explosive growth in population that is predicted to continue well into the future. The growing need for court services in the region has put a strain on the courthouse’s already limited judicial capacity. Built in 1951, with a two-story wing added in the early 1970s, the current two-courtroom Banning Courthouse is overcrowded, in poor physical condition, unsafe, and is incapable of meeting the needs of a rapidly growing population. Examples of the deficiencies include:
What is the plan for the new courthouse?
The new, three-story, 68,000-square-foot courthouse will replace the current Banning Courthouse. It will house six courtrooms and provide space for court services, clerk and court administration, security operations, and building support. A secure sallyport, with separate circulation for the transport of in-custody detainees, will increase public and staff safety. When completed, the new facility will replace an inadequate, obsolete building, and provide for the current and future needs of a rapidly growing population. Located in downtown Banning, the new courthouse is considered a catalyst for other development in the area.
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 current Banning courthouse is insufficient in size, in poor physical condition, and would require an extensive and expensive retrofit to meet accessibility requirements and safety and seismic standards, as well as provide adequate space for judicial staff, offices, and courthouse visitors.
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.
How has the local community had input regarding the courthouse project?
The public was invited to view designs for the new courthouse and comment during a presentation given by architects R. L. Binder to the City Council.
What will happen to the current courthouse when the new courthouse is completed?
After the court occupies the new building and vacates its current space, Judicial Council staff will work with the Superior Court and the County to decide how to use the vacated space in the current courthouse.
Who is the architect on the project?
R.L Binder was the architect selected to design the new Banning Courthouse. Established in 1979, R.L. Binder provides programming and design services, and has been recognized as a leading design firm located in California. The company has won numerous awards for its work including the 2001 Firm of the Year Award from the California Council of the American Institute of Architects.
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?
Where can I see a rendering of the new courthouse?
For a rendering of the new courthouse, please see the GALLERY tab on the project webpage.
Will the new courthouse be energy-efficient and sustainably designed?
Yes. The Banning Justice Center has been designed to receive the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. This is a national standard for sustainable design. Energy-efficiency features include extensive use of both regional and low-emitting building materials, recycling construction waste, natural plants and drip irrigation to provide water-efficient landscaping, and energy-efficient lighting systems.
What design approach was used for the new courthouse?
R. L. Binder, an award-winning architectural firm with experience in designing civic buildings, designed the new courthouse. The new, two-story building features a lobby rotunda, which allows for an abundance of natural light to enter the building through a skylight in the dome. Durable materials were used to construct the new courthouse including stone, wood, and concrete for floors and benches. The first floor jury assembly room is equipped with desks and Wi-Fi, so potential jurors can work while they wait to be called. A pair of clerk’s windows off the lobby allows visitors to take care of traffic citations without going through security. Electronic calendars mounted outside the courtrooms and in the lobby allow visitors to locate courtrooms with ease. Outside, a garden on the west side of the building provides a restful place for court users to enjoy. The design for the new courthouse was intended to reflect the dignity of a classic courthouse while providing the public with a modern, accessible facility.
What is the location of the new courthouse?
The new courthouse occupies approximately five acres on 311 East Ramsey Street between Martin and East Williams Streets in downtown Banning. The site was purchased from the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Banning.
What was the process used to select the site?
Judicial Council staff worked closely with the Superior Court, the City, 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 Riverside 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), and the Banning site qualified for categorical exemption. Staff concluded that infill development of this previously developed commercial site, which had been cleared and vacant since 2000, would not create significant environmental impacts.
Will the new building be energy-efficient?
Yes. The building is designed to qualify for a LEED Silver rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, the national standard for sustainable design. Energy-efficiency features include extensive use of both regional and low-emitting building materials, recycling of construction waste, natural plants and drip irrigation to provide water-efficient landscaping, and energy-efficient lighting systems.
How is the new courthouse being funded?
The courthouse is being funded without impact to the state’s General Fund. The funds come from statewide increases in court user fees, authorized by the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002. This bill approved the issuance of lease-revenue bonds to fund this project, to be repaid by court fees, penalties, and assessments. Bonds were sold for this project in fall 2011.
How did the state arrive at its initial budget for the project?
Judicial 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, council 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?
The Banning courthouse was authorized under the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002, which transferred responsibility for court facilities—their repair, renovation and construction—from counties to the state. 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. The state sold bonds for this project in fall 2011. Once the courthouse is completed and occupied, the same revenue stream will repay those bonds over 20 years.
What is the impact of the state’s current budget crisis on this project?
The recent cost-cutting initiatives on statewide court construction projects will not affect construction already underway on the new Banning Justice Center. Because the state has already sold bonds for this project and has an identified funding pool to repay them, and because the building is nearing the end of construction, no further budget-related delays are expected.
Who built the new courthouse?
Gilbane Building Company is the construction manager at risk (CMAR). In business since 1873, the company is a family-owned, fourth-generation general contractor and has completed numerous California public construction projects. In 2010, the company was honored for its work on two public education facilities with the Project Achievement Award from the Northern California Chapter of the Construction Management Association of America.
How was the CMAR selected?
Judicial Council staff use a construction manager at risk for delivery of projects such as the new Banning courthouse. The CMAR method entails a commitment to deliver the project within a guaranteed maximum price. 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 subcontractors and the approval to award, the CMAR becomes the general contractor for the project. Selection criteria for the project CMAR includes an evaluation of the firm’s plan for outreach to local subcontractors, ensuring that qualified local firms are fully aware of the bidding opportunity, process, and timeline. For this competitive selection, Judicial Council staff received 28 proposals and conducted interviews with the six most qualified firms, from which Gilbane, Inc. was selected.
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 were considered.
What are the key milestones in building the courthouse?
When will the courthouse be completed and operational?
The project was completed in 1 Q 2015.
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