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SF pleads with state to fund new courthouse

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Building pipes are so bad that the ceiling routinely leaks urine

The Hall of Justice building on Bryant Street. Photo by Dllu/Wikicommons

San Francisco needs a new courthouse and has gone knocking on the door of California Governor Jerry Brown in hopes of netting roughly $1.6 billion to replace the terrible Hall of Justice building on Bryant Street.

San Francisco Examiner reports that Mayor of San Francisco Mark Farrell and District Attorney George Gascon penned a letter to Brown asking him to correct the state’s books and put state funds toward courthouse construction:

“Rebuilding the Hall of Justice is the only way to ensure the safety of court staff, attorneys, jurors, Sheriff’s Deputies and countless others,” the letter reads. [...] The letter asks the governor to return $1.6 billion to the state Judicial Council for courthouse construction. The letter says Brown designated up to $5 billion toward rebuilding the state’s courthouses in 2008, under Senate Bill 1407, but has since repurposed a portion of the funding to address a budget shortfall.

According to a spokesperson for the governor, the state is already funding 10 new courthouses through Brown’s most recent budget, but San Francisco has not gone through the approval process for state funding yet.

SB 1407 passed in 2008, appropriating funds for courthouses in up to 32 counties “to replace or improve courthouses with the most severe problems—safety and security, structural deterioration, and overcrowding— for the protection of the public.”

According to a Judicial Council of California fact sheet from 2015:

Since 2009, $1.8 billion in court construction funds have been used to address the state’s budget shortfall. [...] The judicial branch had to delay the start of design or construction for many projects, cancel 2 courthouse projects, reduce budgets on all others, and indefinitely delay 11 projects. All of these delays exacerbate the already significant problems associated with our aging and increasingly unsafe facilities.

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Note that these cancelled projects were not in San Francisco, nor is the city asking for the entirety of the mission billion-plus for the Hall of Justice.

The building on 850 Bryant turns 60 years old this year and is no longer up to seismic safety standards. A 2012 evaluation concluded the structure was an “appreciable life hazard to occupants.”

Employees also complain of vermin, asbestos, and non-functional plumbing in the building.

In early 2017, a singled stuffed up toilet resulted in a “flood of raw sewage” in the DA’s office and evacuation of the building. One employee complained to KTVU that the pipes are so bad that the ceiling routinely leaks urine.

The city plans to demolish the building once it finishes relocating all services elsewhere, but plans for a new permanent courthouse facility are still not firmly set.