Dear Members of the Nevada County Community,
I write, with pleasure, on behalf of the judges of the Nevada County Superior Court to advise you of important and exciting developments with respect to plans for the construction of a new Nevada City courthouse by the State of California.
The Nevada City courthouse and the Truckee courthouse are your community justice centers that administer all civil, criminal, family, juvenile, probate/trust and traffic matters filed each year in Nevada County (well over twelve thousand annual cases). After serving the community for well over a century, the Nevada City courthouse now suffers from a number of significant problems. The courthouse currently: has undersized, overcrowded, and functionally deficient spaces; has a series of seismic deficiencies; is not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act; has non-compliant fire, life and safety systems; has inadequate security for court personnel, participants and the public; has antiquated mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems; and has deficient stand-off space and parking.
In November 2019, the Judicial Council of California (Judicial Council), the state governing body for California courts, in recognition of the dire condition of our local court, approved the new Nevada City courthouse as an “immediate need project” (ranking it as the third most needy trial court capital project out of eighty statewide). In April 2020, the Judicial Council approved a “planning study phase” which ultimately was funded as part of the governor’s budget for fiscal year 2021-22.
The planning study phase is now actively underway. An outside and independent architectural firm, HOK, has been contracted to and is now evaluating three potential options for the new courthouse: (1) renovation of the existing courthouse on the existing site; (2) replacing the buildings in whole or in part on the existing site; or (3) building a new courthouse at a new site to be determined. The architectural firm, among other things, will define the project scope, budget, and timeline for each option and provide an analysis of project impacts on the court and community. A project advisory group was selected and is providing input to the architectural firm. The advisory group includes representatives from the court, the county, all cities and towns within the county, the sheriff, the district attorney and public defender, county probation and the Nevada County Bar Association.
The findings of the study phase will be presented to the Judicial Council’s Court Facilities Advisory Committee during a public hearing scheduled for May 26, 2022. This same state court committee will then decide which option will be pursued during a public hearing on a date to be announced in June 2022. Further approvals and funding then must be sought and obtained during late 2022 and early 2023 from Judicial Council, the Department of Finance, the Governor and the Legislature. Thereafter, acquisition of any site by the state (the current site and potentially any other site), as well as design and building of the courthouse would commence in July 2023. The courthouse would be scheduled for completion by 2029.
It is important to note that the ultimate decision in connection with this project will be made by Judicial Council, the leadership of the state judicial branch, in connection with the state legislative and executive branches. Our court has and shall continue to provide input to the Judicial Council in connection with this important process. Members of the community are also more than welcome to provide their input to the Judicial Council in connection with its decision making process.
In summary, the judges of this court are truly pleased that Nevada County is slated to have a state-of-the-art courthouse to meet the important justice needs of our community as a whole and for years to come. The court looks forward to reviewing the results of the study and very much appreciates the valuable input that has been provided to date by the community in connection therewith.
The court will provide periodic updates to the community in connection with this important process. If anyone wants additional information about the process to date, you might wish to watch the “Future of the Nevada County Courthouse” Webinar previously aired on Monday, April 25, 2022, on YubaNet (either via YubaNet or YouTube).
With best regards,
S. Robert Tice-Raskin, Presiding Judge
Editor’s note: The video is here.