WatchSonoma Watch

State OKs deal to buy land for new Sonoma County courthouse

Sonoma County courthouse.


State officials approved a $5.2 million deal Wednesday to buy land in Santa Rosa for a new $178.7 million Sonoma County courthouse.

The state Public Works Board approved the agreement to purchase 6.8 acres of bargain-priced land from the county at its main campus north of Steele Lane. It includes the site of the former county jail, which was demolished in 2010.

On the old jail site, the state has proposed building a 173,500-square-foot, six-story court building that would replace the Hall of Justice next door.

That 47-year-old structure, state officials say, is outdated and undersized and cannot be renovated to serve court needs, including modern security features, larger jury assembly and deliberation rooms, in-custody holding areas and adult and children’s waiting rooms.

The new facility will feature 15 criminal courtrooms, 450 above- and below-ground parking spaces and consolidated criminal, traffic, juvenile dependency and probate proceedings.

Construction is set to begin in early 2014 and be completed in early 2016, barring budget problems in Sacramento.

The first stage of work, on architectural design, is up for funding in the coming fiscal year. Jose Guillen, executive officer for Sonoma County Superior Court, said the project’s budget is subject to possible reductions by the state Judicial Council, which is set to meet next Friday.

The Santa Rosa project is on a list of 41 courthouse renovation and construction projects statewide to be funded through bonds authorized in 2008 under Senate Bill 1407.

The project architect will be New York-based Richard Meier & Partners, the firm that designed The Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, among other notable structures.

The state purchase also includes the 3-acre county Fleet Building site on Ventura Avenue and a 1.3-acre parking lot on Russell Avenue, parcels to be used for above-ground parking.

The county agreed to sell the land for half of its appraised value. The discount was given because inmate transportation costs to alternative locations could amount to $3 million a year, court officials said.

County supervisors signed off on the deal late last year. Escrow is expected to close in mid June.

It’s still undecided what will become of the old facility once the new courthouse is built.

13 Responses to “State OKs deal to buy land for new Sonoma County courthouse”

  1. Citizen X says:

    Who approved this new purchase of land for the construction of a new courthouse which will also cost us all millions more in the long run for inmate transportation?

    This is so very ridiculous… Didn’t you think this threw first?

    It’s a no brainer, rebuild at the current site! Do you hear me?

    Money doesn’t grow on trees last time I checked, so why are you spending my money like it does?

    And now, you are adding insult to injury, why would you hire a firm out of New York who also knows absolutely noting about Sonoma County and when we already have plenty of outstanding architects already right here?

    Did they hire these architects to display art or to design a functional courthouse?

    Our county officials are all idiots! ALL IDIOTS!!! DO YOU HEAR ME?

    We need to RECALL, RECALL, RECALL these brainless government officials who are wasting our hard earned TAXPAYER MONEY and living in mansions doing so!!!

    Tax payer money should be used for important things like speady freeway expansion, pot holes and education

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  2. brite idea says:

    So the current site is really old, outdated and not modern?

    What doesn’t become outdated, old or obsolete and outdated within 18 months these days??? A computer, house, car, toaster, job, etc…

    Why not think out of the box and think of a creative and economical solution.

    I mean why does this county seem to spend our tax payer money like it grows on trees?

    Why not just put a moratorium on all non-urgent court cases for a year so that the county can demolish and rebuild the court house at its current site?

    If we reuse the land where the current court house stands, the county would save millions in inmate transportation costs in the long, rather then the new property just purchased.

    I see no reason why the county couldn’t even rent space somewhere, including other surrounding court houses in other cities and surrounding counties as a temporary measure to retain security and retain county jobs until the new building has been rebuilt.

    Why not?

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  3. Tax Payer says:


    I mean WTF???

    What the HELL do we need a new court house for?

    What is the point of even having the current one? HUH???

    When was the last time you looked for a attorney, we have so many lawyers that that is the thickest section of the yellow pages in the phone book.

    We haven’t even finished the freeway expansion project yet, is the county government having another wet dream or what?

    Instead of shipping our important manufacturing and engineering jobs to foreign countries, why don’t we contract out the court house activities to India instead?

    Everything else important has been moved overseas, why not reduce operation costs and save tax payers the money by contracting India for our court house activities too.

    Stop wasting our GOD DAM TAX PAYER MONEY on stupid unnecessary things and get our priorities set straight by using our already over inflated tax payer money to fix our streets and to educate our children?

    As a business owner, I have seen other local companies sending our local jobs out of the county to be able to survive the cost of operations here, but if we continue to raise the taxes, you are going to drive the people away too. Not only will this cause a collapse in the local real estate market, but this will also cause us to have to further raise the taxes to make up for the lost tax payer income which will then cause a collapse of our local economy as more jobs also get driven out as companies cut back to attempt to make ends meet.

    We need to recall the community leaders before they destroy what is left of our already struggling economy!!!

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  4. Coral says:

    Sounds like Sonoma County is predicting/expecting hoards of criminal activity in the near future. Or how about a new era in which there are so many rules and laws that it would be hard for anyone to get through a day without violating any of them??????

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  5. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    For once I agree with the naysayers. Even though it will create jobs we don’t need a new courthouse, even though the money is from the state. So many rank and file county employees have been laid off I’m wondering who will fill that new courthouse.

    It’s really too bad we can’t use the money for other things-like road maintenance, or bridge repair, or education where it’s badly needed NOW. All job producing too.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 8

  6. Jim Bennett says:

    Again. Like I’ve tried to point out.
    Like Steveguy pointed out with the school sidewalk story.
    There are always WAY too many zeros associated with these ‘jobs’.

    Well, if you align with international gangsters, which in effect is what our ICLEI membership represents,
    don’t be surprised if some funds are…

    Guess since our public officials are more than complicit.
    One might say they’re…
    ‘inside jobs’.

    Wish we had someone on the ‘inside’.

    Are there any other ways that our rights, our trust, institutions, our services and money can be violated?

    Nope, it’s a complete Plan, for complete control.

    It took years and 300 pages to compile.

    Thumb up 13 Thumb down 10

  7. Steveguy says:

    Hey, quit whining, it’s only a couple hundred million of taxpayer money.

    And besides, it will be ‘green’.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 2

  8. GAJ says:

    I think the BOS should design it.

    After all, they’re masters of road maintenance, rail systems and power systems.

    Designing a little old building should be a piece of cake for those geniuses.

    Thumb up 20 Thumb down 2

  9. steve humphrey says:

    “The project architect will be New York-based Richard Meier & Partners, the firm that designed The Getty Center in Los Angeles and the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art, among other notable structures.”

    Maybe we should get it designed by the fellas that did the Amityville Asylum…not only would it be cheaper but a better design for what goes on there.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3

  10. Jim Bennett says:

    Think they’re a little out of touch with our needs and priorities?

    However they engage in a very active diologue with ICLEI.

    They want to build a shrine, with a perfectly adequate facility already in place.

    When our schools needed more space they bring in those cheesy mobile units with stairs.

    Meanwhile WE close schools, pay extra to use OUR parks, drive around pot holes, and carry a flashlight to walk our neighborhoods, etc.,etc..

    This is different than we were taught in civics class. A lot different.

    Thumb up 28 Thumb down 12

  11. Money Grubber says:

    Just look at that photo of the current, perfectly fine Sonoma County Courthouse.

    Nothing wrong with it at all. Nothing.

    The greedy bureaucrats just want new, new, new everything.

    Last time I was in there for jury duty, the government workers were not even cleaning the interior windows of the courtyard. They want a brand new building but they REFUSE to even clean the interior court yard windows that they have.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 12

  12. Steveguy says:

    We already own it, why do we have to buy it again ?

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 13

  13. Money Grubber says:

    Cozy new digs for all the judges, prosecutors, investigators, and public employee staff.

    And they continue to pay jurors how much?
    lol. But its your “duty.” lol.

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 13

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