The city of Santa Clarita is expected to host a closed session discussion Tuesday on real estate negotiations for 23743 W. Valencia Blvd., which currently houses the Valencia Library and is being eyed for a massive court-expansion plan in North L.A. County.
The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the Santa Clarita City Council calls for a closed session to discuss negotiations with the Judicial Council of California over the Valencia Library property.
The city confirmed the address Monday but declined to make a statement regarding the status of the closed-session negotiation or any future plans for the library location Monday.
The idea for the Los Angeles County court system to expand its footprint has been discussed at the state level for more than a decade.
The State Court Facilities Construction Fund has appropriated about $960 million over the last three years for improvements, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget, with “Los Angeles County: New Santa Clarita Courthouse” an item in the 2023-24 budget with $53 million total set aside — $41,749,000 for property acquisition and $11,301,000 set aside for “performance criteria” or improvements.
The total plan for the Santa Clarita expansion, which would replace several existing facilities, including a juvenile courthouse, is expected to cost around $519 million, according to the Judicial Council, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
As the negotiations are ongoing, it’s unclear how much of the final budgeted amount will be allocated for the sale.
A spokeswoman for the Judicial Council directed information requests to the state website that shared a few of the big-picture details for the project.
“The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles — New Santa Clarita Courthouse project provides a new 24-courtroom courthouse of 278,000 square feet in the city of Santa Clarita,” according to the website. “It includes secured parking for judicial officers. The project will require acquisition of a site of approximately 4.53 acres. It will consolidate the court’s operations/courtrooms currently in the Santa Clarita Courthouse, Santa Clarita Administrative Center, and Sylmar Juvenile Courthouse, and it will replace courtrooms in the Stanley Mosk Courthouse (in Los Angeles). The project will use the design-build delivery method.”
The lot that hosts the former Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and the Valencia Library on the corner of Valencia Boulevard is owned by Los Angeles County, according to records with the L.A. County Assessor’s Office. The land that houses the current Valencia Courthouse is owned by the city of Santa Clarita. Both lots together represent about 235,000 square feet of land.
The plans have changed considerably over the years for a “Santa Clarita courthouse,” with a 2011 release from the Judicial Council noting the State Public Works Board approved selection of the preferred site for a new courthouse near the intersection of The Old Road and Henry Mayo Drive. That project would have included four courtrooms over 54,000 square feet.
However, the bottom of that release gave an ominous warning for the plans for a courthouse at Castaic Junction that has yet to take shape: “The state Budget Act for fiscal year 2011-2012 contains significant cuts to the account that funds (Senate Bill) 1407 projects. These cuts may cause delays in SB 1407 projects and project budget reductions but are not expected to delay this project’s progress in the current fiscal year.”
The state’s website notes the currently planned project for Santa Clarita is still “in the acquisition phase.”
“The Performance Criteria phase is estimated to begin in December 2024 and complete in December 2025,” according to the state’s website. “The Design-Build phase — including Construction — is estimated to begin in December 2025 and complete in March 2030.”