SAN FRANCISCO — The Judicial Council endorsed a cost-cutting direction for court construction statewide, including the reassessment of 13 projects and further construction budget trimming on 24 projects. The council approved recommendations from the Court Facilities Working Group that are expected to yield significant, long-term savings throughout the $5 billion program.
Thirteen projects, with a current combined project cost of $1.1 billion, will be reassessed for significant savings options, including downsizing square footage, undertaking renovations instead of new construction, evaluating lease options, and using lower-cost construction methods where feasible. The reassessment timeline will vary for each project.
Another 24 projects, worth $3.2 billion overall, will proceed with mandated construction budget cuts of at least 2 to 10 percent, over and above the 4 percent reduction directed by the council in December 2011. Seven projects have been designated as models for lower-cost construction methods, such as tilt-up construction. The council also delegated to the Administrative Office of the Courts the ability to depart from council-approved statewide design standards in order to achieve these new economies, subject to approval of the working group.
Senate Bill 1407 was enacted in 2008 to authorize up to $5 billion in funding for new and renovated courthouses using court fees, penalties, and assessments rather than taxpayer revenues from the state’s General Fund. Since 2009, more than $1.1 billion in funding originally designated for courthouse construction has been borrowed, swept to the state’s General Fund, or redirected to court operations. The 25-member working group was appointed by the Chief Justice in July 2011 to oversee the judicial branch facilities program.