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The courting of a courthouse

City officials want the new building within city limits; county officials say Castaic Junction

Posted: May 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 22, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County officials are playing a game of tug of war with the $58 million courthouse planned for the SCV.

Officials with the Judicial Council of California Courts have been scrutinizing potential sites across the Santa Clarita Valley since November 2009, when the State Public Works Board gave its final approval to pay for construction of the courthouse.

Both city and county officials said they hope the state selects a location that’s convenient for SCV residents. But which area is most convenient is up for debate.

For the county, it’s the unincorporated Castaic Junction, as County Mayor Michael Antonovich made clear in his State of the County speech Wednesday.

The Santa Clarita City Council, meanwhile, wants the courthouse to be built within its jurisdiction, and has already offered the state a seven-acre plot along Golden Valley Road.

“The City Council has expressed its interest of keeping the courthouse in the city,” Assistant City Manager Ken Striplin said.

The Golden Valley Road provides a central and convenient location, he said.

Councilmembers will also meet in closed session in the near future to consider offering other potential locations — including one parcel that fronts Newhall Avenue, near Carl Court, Striplin said.

The property, the northern portion of the Gate-King Industrial Park, is near a Metrolink station, Highway 14 and would be a financial boon for Newhall residents, the site’s owner Hank Arklin said in a March letter to Antonovich.

“(The site) is located within the Enterprise Zone, and most importantly, will help to return Newhall to the vibrant community that we all remember by providing an employment base that will generate sales for ... many of the retail establishments in the community,” Arklin wrote.

But Antonovich prefers unincorporated Castaic Junction, north of the city.

Castaic Junction remains at the heart of an expanding industrial complex on the northwest corner of State Route 126 and Interstate 5, and the proposed Castaic spot would be located near a future Newhall Ranch mega-development.

County officials offered the state nine different locations across the SCV, but the state has shown the greatest interest in the Castaic Junction site, Tony Bell, Antonovich’s spokesman, said Friday.

“Our preference is to have a site that follows (state) criteria and is in a place that is central to serve all the people of the Santa Clarita Valley,” he said.

Ultimately, the state will decide where the courthouse goes. As they have for as long as courthouse construction was approved, state officials have revealed little about what sites they are most seriously considering.

“We’ve been doing our due diligence with the city and county on potential sites that would be donated to the state,” said Teresa Ruano, a state spokeswoman. “We’ve been working hard on all fronts, but there’s no new news on site selection.”

A site is scheduled to be chosen by the fall 2011, according to the Administrative Office of the Courts’ 2009 project feasibility report. State officials selected Santa Monica-based architecture firm Moore Ruble Yudell to design the courthouse in June 2010.

The Santa Clarita Courthouse located at the corner of Magic Mountain Parkway and Valencia Boulevard was built in 1971 and does not adequately service the SCV’s growing population, according to the report.

The new, 54,750-square-foot courthouse is designed to include four courtrooms, a self-help center, modern courtroom waiting areas, a jury assembly room and jury deliberation rooms.

Senior Staff Writer Jim Holt contributed to this report.


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