gaveldecision.jpgA working group at the Judicial Council of California is overseeing construction projects for more than a dozen courthouses and has proposed ideas to lower costs, all of which will be addressed at a meeting later this month.

The oversight committee has recommended the judicial branch facilities find ways to reduce square footage, renovate instead of build from scratch, consider lease options and find lower-cost construction methods for 13 courthouse projects.

The 13 courthouse projects are expected to cost about $1.1 billion. The Judicial Council is expected to consider the cost-reducing recommendations at its April 24 meeting at the State Building at 455 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco.

The council can either accept, modify or reject the recommendations.

Justice Jeffrey Johnson, associate justice of the Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District who is heading a subcommittee of the working group said in a statement, “There’s no ribbon around the status quo. We’ve identified dozens of cost-reduction strategies, some of which have high cost-benefit impact that we think can be achieved…”

Senate Bill 1407 authorized $5 billion in lease-revenue bonds for new and renovated courthouses in 2008.

The committee will recommend that 25 active projects funded under SB 1407 continue as planned, but reassess their costs as they proceed.

Several new projects are planned for facilities in Alameda, Sonoma, Monterey and Santa Clara counties. One of the proposed construction projects, a new Santa Clara Family Justice Center, is projected to cost $241,950,000 to build.

In Solano County, renovations to the Fairfield Old Solano Courthouse have a $25,418,000 budget.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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