Santa Barbara- S County

Superior Court Criminal building needs to be rebuilt

Superior Court Criminal Building...

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A new report is out on one of Santa Barbara's most important buildings, the Criminal Court building on Figueroa Street.

Officials have know for years, it wouldn't be safe during an earthquake. The building has been remodeled several times over the years, but still doesn't meet the minimum safety standards.

The state study found, lives could be lost during a serious earthquake.

"There were a list of projects established across the state, and we are among top 10 remaining now of what they call immediate and critical needs," said Superior Court Executive Officer Darrel Parker. "We are anxious to see this building replaced with something more safe."

The Figueroa Superior Court building was constructed in 1953 and served as a separate municipal court.

"Since then all courts statewide consolidated into one superior court for each county. So there are 58 independent superior courts," Parker said. "This court now handles all cases, from misdemeanors to felonies."   

The state-owned building is not only seismically unsafe, it's deficient in a number of other areas.

"There are ADA compliance issues, narrow hallways, you can't turn a wheelchair around in the elevator," Parker said. "There is no complete comprehensive fire suppression system in the building."

Money for construction was redirected by the state to address other budget shortfalls.

"So we are sort of languishing, waiting for the governor to restore 1.4 billion dollars that was redirected to address buildings like this one," said Parker.

The cost to reconstruct the building is estimated as well over 100 million dollars.

The County of Santa Barbara also needs to replace the Probation Department building behind the criminal court building.

The current proposal would combine both projects. "We think its good government to combine public lobbies, restrooms, hallways and elevators instead of two separate buildings," he said.

Parker said a fix needs to happen soon.

"We know there are hundreds of people at risk every day, if we don't do something."

In light of the recent study, and while officials wait in funding, earthquake drills and emergency evacuations will be conducted on a regular basis.




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