Nevada County, Nevada City Courthouse Study


Nevada County, Nevada City Courthouse Study

The courthouse planning study compared the merits and disadvantages of options for improving facilities for the Superior Court of Nevada County in Nevada City. Three options were studied to analyze the feasibility of: renovating the existing Nevada City Courthouse; replacing the existing courthouse (bulding new) on the existing site; and building a new courthouse in a new location.

Criteria Architect: HOK
Fund: General Fund

The Superior Court of Nevada County uses a decentralized service model. The court’s administration is located in Nevada City at the Nevada City Courthouse, which serves as the primary location for court filings and all case types. The one branch court facility, the Truckee Courthouse, is located at the Joseph Government Center in Truckee and serves the eastern half of the county with all case types except for juvenile dependency.

The existing courthouse, located at 201 Church Street in Nevada City, is a 3-story, 6-courtroom facility located in the city’s historic district. It serves roughly two thirds of the county’s population and accommodates all case types. The courthouse was constructed in 1864 and remodeled/expanded in 1900 and 1937 and includes an interconnected Annex constructed in 1964. The courthouse and Annex function as one building. These buildings total approximately 70,000 square feet—of which approximately 24,000 square feet is exclusively occupied by the court—with the balance of space occupied by county functions. The court's current space is considered unsafe, undersized, substandard, overcrowded, lacks parking, and is functionally deficient. It has seismic and fire system deficiencies and is not compliant with ADA standards.

The study analyzed the feasibility and merits of renovating and rebuilding the court facility in its current location with the merits of building a new courthouse in a new location:

  • For the option of building a new courthouse at a new location, the study considered/analyzed:
    • The need to acquire land—which would require CEQA and regulatory approvals and the payment of fair market value—to construct a 6-courtroom, full-service courthouse with in-custody-holding space in approximately 84,000 square feet with secure parking for judges and public parking for jurors/visitors.
    • Concerns of county residents and the community.
  • For the options of renovating and rebuilding in its current location, the study analyzed:
    • Feasibility of renovating, reconfiguring, or replacing all or part of the existing Nevada City Courthouse in a manner that will allow the court to operate in a facility with greater functionality than is currently possible.
    • Potential issues with renovating the facility in place and rebuilding on the existing site; court and county disruption; existing maintenance; seismic requirements; environmental and safety concerns; space management; swing space and relocation costs; and parking requirements.
    • Security and safety concerns and general disruption to court operations while the court is operating in swing space or in a temporary facility during renovation.

The goal of the study was to provide the Superior Court of Nevada County with a facility that meets current courthouse construction and safety standards and meets the operational, security, and space needs of the court, while being responsive to the needs and concerns of Nevada County residents. Each study option was compared in terms of cost, budget, schedule, and community impacts. The conclusion of the analysis guided the proposal to request funding to begin this capital-outlay project.

Due to insufficient resources in the Immediate and Critical Needs Account, the Judicial Council, at its meetings on October 26, 2012, and January 17, 2013, made a policy decision to place some projects on hold until proper funding could be restored. The impact of the Judicial Council direction to this project was to immediately stop the projectit in the Acquisition phase until funding could be restored. In FY 2021–22, this project was reactivated to complete the study, and on June 9, 2022, the courthouse planning study was completed. Subsequently, the following occurred:

  • The study was reviewed and discussed by the Judicial Council’s Court Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) at its public meeting on June 17, 2022. At that meeting, the CFAC approved study Option 3—for a New Courthouse on a New Site—stating preference that land acquisition be as close to downtown as financially and otherwise possible.
  • On July 15, 2022, the Judicial Council adopted the Judicial Branch Five-Year Infrastructure Plan for Fiscal Year 2023–24. Funding for the New Nevada City Courthouse capital-outlay project in this five-year plan is proposed for the Acquisition phase in FY 2023–24 and the Performance Criteria and Design-Build phases in outlying fiscal years in 2025–26 and 2026–27.

Assuming the project is moved forward by the Administration and the Legislature and is authorized for Acquisition-phase funding in the 2023 Budget Act (FY 2023–24), next steps will involve a site search and acquisition of a suitable property in conformance with the Judicial Council’s site selection and acquisition policy available at


Contact Info

Judicial Council of California
Facilities Services

455 Golden Gate Avenue
8th Floor
San Francisco, California


For CEQA-related questions, e-mail