The Superior Court of Siskiyou County provides services in a historic but outmoded courthouse in Yreka, the county seat. This four-courtroom, multi-functional facility handles all case types and houses court administrative offices, the district attorney, and various county functions.
The Siskiyou Superior Courthouse is multiple connected structures, with the original structure dating from 1857. The remaining structures were added through the years. This overcrowded facility has significant security deficiencies. For example, it lacks on-site in-custody holding and separate circulation for in-custody defendants, staff, and the public. The current courthouse also has severe functional and ADA access deficiencies. It lacks enough courtrooms for all assigned judges, and one of the four courtrooms must be shared with the County Board of Supervisors. The courthouse's lower level routinely floods during the rainy season. The building's limited space has forced the court to lease an annex building about one block away.
This project will replace the current courthouse and annex with a modern, secure courthouse for all case types and functions, including criminal, family, traffic, juvenile, probate proceedings and investigations, and civil settlements. It will also enable the court to provide basic services it cannot currently offer due to space restrictions: adequately sized jury deliberation rooms, a self-help center, a children's waiting room, family court mediation, attorney interview/witness waiting rooms, and secure circulation for court staff and visitors. The courthouse will contain enough courtrooms for all assigned judges.
The new courthouse will be located on 2.4 acres across the street from the current courthouse. Site acquisition was completed in mid-2012.
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance
Judicial Council staff complied with CEQA by filing a categorical exemption for this project's preferred site on May 18, 2011.
March 2015What is the current status of the project?
The New Siskiyou County Courthouse in Yreka 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 Siskiyou County need a new courthouse?
The Superior Court of Siskiyou County provides services to county residents from the historic but outmoded Siskiyou County Courthouse in downtown Yreka. All case types, including felonies, misdemeanors, juvenile law, civil, traffic, probate, and small claims are heard at this facility. The court also uses an off-site annex, one block away, for storage and IT space.
The county courthouse is actually several connected structures; the original building dates back to 1857. The courthouse has numerous physical problems, including a lower level that routinely floods during the rainy season. The facility is severely overcrowded, has seismic issues, and lacks adequate security, causing unnecessary risks to the public and staff who use the building every day. In addition, the courthouse has functional, accessibility, and efficiency issues, limiting the Court’s ability to provide access to justice to Siskiyou County residents. Examples include:
What is the plan for the new courthouse?
- Deputies escort in-custody detainees in chains through public coridors and stairways, creating potential security risks.
- Lack of a secure sallyport means those in-custody are off-loaded from vans in the street and escorted via public sidewalks into the courthouse through a public door, creating potential security risks.
- Jurors gather in corridors accessible to the public because the courthouse has no jury assembly space.
- Noise from public areas outside courtrooms complicates and sometimes disrupts court proceedings.
- With no interview/conference rooms, attorneys must confer with clinets, victims, and witnesse in crowded public corridors and waiting areas.
- Most features, such as service counters, courtrooms, restrooms, and elevators are inaccessible to people with disabilities.
- Other issues include inadequate systems for HVAC, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical, and cramped and inefficient working conditions for court staff.
To be located on 4th Street and across from the current county courthouse and jail in downtown Yreka, the New Siskiyou County Courthouse will include five courtrooms in over 67,000 square feet. It will replace the Court’s existing space in the current courthouse and annex and provide basic services not currently offered to county residents due to the Court’s limited space in the current, county-owned facility. The new courthouse will include appropriately sized jury deliberation rooms, a self-help center, a children’s waiting room, attorney/client conference rooms, and accessibility for persons with disabilities. Enhanced security features include a secure sallyport, adequately sized in-custody holding, a separate circulation for in-custody detainees, the public, and court staff, and improved fire and life safety. The new courthouse will provide for a modern, full-service, secure facility consolidated under one roof, providing better access to justice to Siskiyou County residents.Was renovation considered before the plan to build a new courthouse was decided on?
The Judicial Council evaluated renovation of the Court’s space in the Siskiyou County Courthouse and found that it would not be feasible, due to the building’s space limitations, security issues, and physical problems. In addition, the County owns the facility, and in most cases, the state cannot renovate a building that 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.
More information:Judicial CouncilJudicial Council StaffHow has the local community had input regarding the courthouse project?
The Project Advisory Group, required by Rules of Court and state law, is 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. In addition, 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 new courthouse is completed and the Court vacates its space in the current historic courthouse, the County, which owns the building, will determine what to do with the vacated space. The lease on the Court’s Eddy Annex will not be renewed.
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SITEWhere will the new courthouse be located?
The new courthouse will be located on 4th Street in downtown Yreka. The 2.4-acre site, bounded by Oregon, South, Fourth, and Butte Streets, will be across the street from the existing courthouse and county jail. 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 Siskiyou 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.
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ENVIRONMENTAL PROCESSWas an environmental review completed for the project?
The Judicial Council was the lead agency for the environmental review for the new courthouse under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Staff completed a thorough analysis of the proposed project before filing a Notice of Exemption on May 18, 2011.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.
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FUNDINGHow is the new courthouse being funded?
The courthouse was ranked as an “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.
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DESIGNWho is designing the new courthouse?
San Francisco based EHDD Architects is designing the new Siskiyou County Courthouse. In business since 1946, the company provides architecture, planning, urban and interior design, sustainability, and general contracting services. EHDD is experienced in designing civic buildings, including the Exploratorium at San Francisco’s Pier 15 and the new City College of San Francisco.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?
- A Request for Qualifications is issued to find and secure the best-qualified architecture firm.
- Once site acquisition is completed, the architects begin the design, draw floor plans and elevations, and illustrate the design through rederings or scale models.
- Once the design is complete and agreed upon, the preliminary plans are approved.
- The design phase moves into working drawings.
- Working drawings are approved and the project moves into construction.
Where can I see renderings of the new courthouse?
When available, renderings 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 be designed to meet the energy-efficiency requirements set forth in LEED as well as by California Energy Code.
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CONSTRUCTIONWho will build the new courthouse?
McCarthy Building Companies is the construction manager at risk (CMAR). In business for 150 years, the company is an employee-owned general contractor and has completed numerous California public construction projects.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 the project is in architectural design, a Request for Proposals is issued to find and secure the best-qualified CMAR.
- The CMAR in turn issues bid packages to qualified construction professionals to build the construction team.
- The construction site is prepard, the foundation is poured, and the core of the building and protective shell are completed.
- The building is enclosed and infrastructure systems are completed.
- Interior fixtures and finishes are completed.
- The newly constructed building undergoes quality control checks and the major systems are tested.
- The finished new building is inspected and issued a certificate of occupancy.
When will the courthouse be completed and operational?
Construction is currently scheduled to begin in summer 2016; the courthouse is scheduled for completion in fall 2018. This schedule is subject to change.
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