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State approves funding for new SCV courthouse

Current courthouse, nearly four decades old, too small for growing area, officials say

Posted: November 17, 2009 11:08 a.m.
Updated: November 17, 2009 11:07 a.m.
 
A funding measure that would send $58 million to the Santa Clarita Valley for a new courthouse cleared its last hurdle on Monday.

The State Public Works Board gave final approval to the measure, which clears the way for site selection and planning of a courthouse in the Santa Clarita Valley. The new building, which city, county and state officials have advocated, would replace the current 38-year-old cramped courthouse that isn't large enough to serve the Santa Clarita Valley's population.

The project is scheduled for completion by fall 2014 and will be coordinated by the state's Administrative Office of the Courts.

The city and the county have offered up sites for the new courthouse, but no decision has been made on where the courthouse will be built.

Santa Clarita has offered 7 acres of city-owned land near Golden Valley Road for the building.

"The City looks forward to the site selection process over the next several months," said City Manager Ken Pulskamp in response to the news.

Staffers from Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor Michael Antonovich's office heralded the approval as a win for Santa Clarita Valley residents.

"This is a great victory for the Santa Clarita Valley and will provide our residents the much-needed judicial services we have been advocating for years," spokesman Tony Bell said in an e-mail. "We will continue working with the State to ensure the best possible location to serve all the residents of the Santa Clarita Valley."

The Santa Clarita Courthouse was built in 1971 and the population growth of the SCV has made the current building obsolete, state judicial officials said.

The new facility would add additional services not available at the current courthouse such as a self-help center, improved courtroom waiting areas, jury assembly room, jury deliberation rooms and a children's waiting room, the Judicial Council of California Courts said in a statement Monday.

The site for the new courthouse would also provide more capacity to accommodate the additional judges that will be needed as the Santa Clarita Valley's population continues to grow.

California state Senator George Runner, R-Lancaster, has long advocated building a new courthouse in the SCV. He said he spent 10 years fighting for a similar project in the Antelope Valley.

"We think it's a good wise investment," said Runner, whose district includes part of the SCV. "I'm hoping no matter what area is chosen that it will offer us a good courthouse and spur some economic development in that area."

Jonathan Randles contributed to this report.

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