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Santa Clarita looks for new court site

City has $50 million earmarked for courthouse location

Posted: March 20, 2009 12:06 a.m.
Updated: March 20, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita city officials are eyeing a plot of land along Golden Valley Road as a potential site for a new courthouse.

With $50 million in state funds earmarked for the project, the city wants to show it's taking steps to move forward, said Paul Brotzman, director of community development.

The city owns about 12 acres where county Fire Station 104 is located on Golden Valley Road east of Soledad Canyon Road, Brotzman said.

About seven of those acres can be developed, he said.

The existing Santa Clarita Superior Court at the corner of Valencia Boulevard and Magic Mountain Parkway is, like the adjacent Sheriff's Station, decades old and in need of upgrades.

The city's plan has been to erect a new courthouse as part of an expanded civic center.

A $5 billion state bond approved last year is putting money toward the renovation or replacement of 41 courthouses statewide. Of that, $50 million is set aside for Santa Clarita.

The city was near the top of the list, which means it must show initiative to the state, Brotzman said.

"There are plenty of other cities standing in line," he said, adding it's too early to tell how much a new courthouse might cost.

"We don't want to lose the funds," city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said. "There's obviously more need than there is money to go around."

Tuesday night, the City Council is set to receive a presentation on the Golden Valley Road property and its potential for a courthouse.

Senate Bill 1407, which allowed for sale of the bond, originally called for a renovation of the courthouse building. But by the time Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill last September, the renovation project became a replacement project.

Santa Clarita and Glendale were among four locations classified in the immediate-need category, according to Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, who backed the bond.

"That's based on the age of the facility and the set up," he said, during an interview late last year. "In some courthouses, we have victims, witnesses and perpetrators sitting next to each other."

Brotzman and Ortiz both stressed there is still much work to be done, and that looking at the Golden Valley site is just one way of keeping the city's options open.

While no formal plan has been proposed, there has been discussion in recent years about an expanded civic center tied in with the expansion of Westfield Valencia Town Center.

Additionally, the city owns 270 acres of hilltop property east of the intersection of Soledad Canyon and Bouquet Canyon roads behind the Saugus Speedway.

Despite being prime real estate for something like a civic center and a conference hall, those 270 acres lack access and infrastructure, Ortiz said.

"Nothing's even close to being concrete," she said Thursday. "(A courthouse) could be a number of places."

The City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Council Chambers at City Hall, located at 23920 Valencia Blvd.


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