New Sixth Appellate District Courthouse

Summary

SCH Number
2024040386
Lead Agency
Judicial Council of California
Document Title
New Sixth Appellate District Courthouse
Document Type
NOP - Notice of Preparation of a Draft EIR
Received
Present Land Use
El Camino Real – Public Facilities (ECR-PF) District
Document Description
The Project consists of the demolition of an existing building and the construction of a new Courthouse with additional parking for the Sixth Appellate District of the Court of Appeal in a more practical and accessible infill location. Since it was established in 1984, the Sixth Appellate District of the Court of Appeal (Sixth Appellate District), has operated out of 43,758 square feet (SF) of the Comerica Bank Building, located at 333 West Santa Clara Street within downtown San Jose pursuant to a lease. In 2006, the Sixth Appellate District’s lease that was managed by the California Department of General Services was assigned to the Judicial Council. The current lease expires in January 2029 and has a final extension option through January 2034 (Moore, Ruble, Yudel, May 18, 2022). The Sixth Appellate District’s current space on the 10th and 11th floors of the Comerica Bank Building includes one courtroom with support spaces, justice chambers, attorney offices, mediation operations, clerk operations, a law library, and court administration. This space is not contiguous and is distributed between the two floors. Additionally, there is no on-site parking available for any court user including the public and court staff. Only a small number of spaces are available for the justices and the court executive officer. Parking for the public and court staff is accommodated offsite through public pay lots and very limited street parking. Approximately 60 parking spaces is estimated to be needed for the public and court staff, which cannot be achieved at the current leased property. The Judicial Council is proposing to build a new Sixth Appellate District Courthouse (Courthouse, proposed Project), at 605 W. El Camino Real, Sunnyvale California 94087 (the Site). The location selected was previously used by the Superior Court of Santa Clara County for trial court operations (Figure 1 – Site Location). The State of California, on behalf of the Judicial Council retains ownership of the Site. The Site is situated on W. El Camino Real between Mathilda Avenue and Pastoria Avenue. This property is within the El Camino Real Public Facilities zoning district. The Site is 2.03 acres (APN 165-02-004) with an existing 19,994 SF, single-story building with a partial basement which was constructed in 1967. The Site has onsite parking and is located within the City of Sunnyvale’s Civic Center with easy access to public transit and vehicle freeway infrastructure, making it a more appropriate location for the Sixth Appellate District. The Master Plan for the Civic Center was approved in September of 2018, and features the construction of three new facilities: City Hall, Public Safety Emergency Operations Center Addition, and a Library. These buildings would be situated on the northern half of the Civic Center (Figure 2 – Civic Center Facilities). Site preparation would require the demolition of the existing 19,994 SF one-story building and approximately 45,000 SF of existing parking and surfacing to build a new Courthouse within the 2.03-acre Site. The parking lot contains an unused structure that will be demolished and resurfaced for additional parking space. (Figure 3 – Proposed Demolition). This location was selected based on objectives and needs, as well as a feasibility study completed in May 2022, which determined that the existing Superior Court building has surpassed its useful life and the renovation that would be necessary for reuse is cost prohibitive. The study states that “the land value is higher than that of renovating the existing improvements and concluding that the “highest and best use” of this property is for new development” (New Courthouse Feasibility Study, May 2022). The proposed new Courthouse would be constructed as a 50,000 SF up to three-story facility. The facility would be equipped with one courtroom with support spaces, justice chambers, administrative and operations areas, a law library, mediation area, lobby, public entry, and building support within the same general footprint. A designated parking zone with seventeen (17) secured parking spaces for justices with solar power generation capability and approximately sixty (60) surface parking spaces for the public and the staff. Construction is planned to begin December of 2025 through September of 2028. Construction laydown yards and temporary workspaces are proposed to be contained within the existing footprint of the Site. The Site includes mature trees located at the perimeter of the property where a 25-foot vehicle setback naturally occurs. Trees line the west side of the Site, providing shade and privacy. On the east side of the property, two groups of three trees are centered with the building. The building is fronted on El Camino Real, where asymmetrical tree groupings frame the existing courthouse entrance (Figure 4 – Proposed Courthouse Layouts). Access to the new Courthouse parking area would be within the existing footprint. The existing vehicle entrance to the parking area is established off El Camino Real. The Site is well served by Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) bus stops. The Sunnyvale Transit Center is situated seven blocks to the northeast and contains bus stops with connections to CALTRAIN. The Site is less than 2.5 miles east of the California State Route 85 (CA-SR-85) and southeast of CA-SR-237. The United States (US) 101 and US-237 highways are also located within three miles of the Site. This nearby public transportation and roadway infrastructure connects the property to the surrounding facilities and neighborhood, thereby ensuring public accessibility to the Courthouse. Objective and Need Santa Clara County is part of the greater Silicon Valley and the epicenter of computer technology and development in the United States. It serves high-technology-oriented companies, such as Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, Zoom, and Intel Corporation, as well as aerospace industries such as Lockheed and Martin Aerospace. Over the last years, rental rates have increased while vacancy rates have decreased, suggesting that the Appellate District may have difficulty negotiating a new lease at their current location and will need to pay more with limited options for a new location. Existing operations have been confined to the dictated leased-space floor plate such that adjacencies required for effective operations have not been fully realized, space shortfall exists, and anticipated future growth cannot be accommodated. The current Sixth Appellate District Court location also has security vulnerabilities. The following was determined in the New Courthouse Feasibility Study. “The current lease, last executed in May 2012, has utilized multiple lease extension options over the years. It has one final option for a five-year extension through January 2034. However, there is no guarantee that a new lease can be negotiated or even available thereafter. Should it be determined that the Sixth Appellate District is unable to continue leasing at this current location beyond January 2034, an alternative leased space would need to be identified, negotiated, and tenant improvements completed prior to the current lease expiration. Historically, the uncertainty of having to continue leasing space for its operations and remain reliant on the availability of affordable private property office space within its operating budget has been very challenging. As a public agency having had to compete in a consistently high-demand rental market with private companies with resources for paying top dollar for lease space is and has been an ongoing concern. Without a permanent state-owned facility to operate in, the Sixth Appellate District will continue to be vulnerable to rental market conditions and escalating costs. These factors impact its ability to ensure its operations can continue in an appropriate location and space that provides public access to justice. An available asset for the permanent home of the Courthouse is in the city of Sunnyvale on the Site of the former Sunnyvale Courthouse, which is no longer operated by the Superior Court of Santa Clara County. This property is state owned and is centrally located with good access to public transportation and adjacent to other public facilities within the City of Sunnyvale Civic Center, making its reuse advantageous, promoting environmental protection through infill development consistent with existing development patterns. New Courthouse on state-owned property will provide: • Permanent home for the Sixth Appellate District. • Eliminate lease uncertainties and ongoing expensive and escalating lease costs. • 5-year project duration from date of appropriation. • Connect with existing the Sunnyvale Civic Center and surrounding neighborhood.”

Contact Information

Name
Mitch Vaccari
Agency Name
Judicial Council of California
Job Title
Senior Project Manager
Contact Types
Lead/Public Agency / Project Applicant

Name
Lindsay Anshen
Agency Name
Stantec Consulting
Job Title
Principal Environmental Planner
Contact Types
Consulting Firm

Location

Cities
Sunnyvale
Counties
Santa Clara
Regions
Citywide, Countywide, Northern California, San Francisco Bay Area
Cross Streets
Situated on W. El Camino Real between Mathilda Avenue and Pastoria Avenue
Zip
94087
Total Acres
2.03
Parcel #
165-02-004
State Highways
N/A
Railways
CALTRAIN
Airports
N/A
Schools
Little Tree Montessori International School
Waterways
N/A
Township
06S
Range
02W
Section
36

Notice of Completion

State Review Period Start
State Review Period End
State Reviewing Agencies
California Air Resources Board (ARB), California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bay Delta Region 3 (CDFW), California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), California Department of Parks and Recreation, California Department of Transportation, District 4 (DOT), California Department of Water Resources (DWR), California Highway Patrol (CHP), California Natural Resources Agency, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Bay Region 2 (RWQCB), Department of Toxic Substances Control, Office of Historic Preservation, State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Drinking Water, California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC)
State Reviewing Agency Comments
California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC)
Development Types
Commercial (Sq. Ft. 43758, Acres 2.03, Employees 25)
Local Actions
Redevelopment
Project Issues
Aesthetics, Air Quality, Biological Resources, Cultural Resources, Cumulative Effects, Geology/Soils, Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Hazards & Hazardous Materials, Hydrology/Water Quality, Mandatory Findings of Significance, Noise, Transportation, Tribal Cultural Resources
Local Review Period Start
Local Review Period End

Attachments

Notice of Completion [NOC] Transmittal form

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