Taking the 5th

Sacramento’s new $550 million building: the Taj Mahal of courthouses?

Sacramento’s new $550 million building: the Taj Mahal of courthouses?

Lauren Hammond has guts. She’s already lost one bid for the state Assembly, now she’s giving up a very safe city council seat to run again in 2010, this time to replace termed-out Assemblyman Dave Jones.

Bites asked her recently, “What happens if, you know, you lose?”

Hammond said not to worry. “That’s not going to happen. I’ve done my trial and error, I’ve learned my lessons.”

In the 2004 Assembly race, Hammond finished third behind County Supervisor Roger Dickinson and then fellow Councilman Jones. Jones was coming from the same district now represented by Kevin McCarty, who is also planning to run for the Assembly seat next year.

Win or lose, somebody else will be taking over Hammond’s council seat in Sacramento’s 5th District, which covers Oak Park, Tahoe Park, Hollywood Park and a few other parks. She says she thinks there will be at least as much interest in the seat as there was back in 1997, when Hammond was one of a field of four candidates to vie for the position. Her biggest competitor then was local heavy hitter Genevieve Shiroma—who was backed at the time by the holy trinity of Mayor Joe Serna Jr., The Sacramento Bee and Angelo Tsakopoulos.

Speaking of heavy hitters, Chris Young, special assistant to Mayor Kevin Johnson, is rumored to be considering a run for Hammond’s council seat this time around.

You know, Bites lives in the 5th District, too, and might just jump into the race with the slogan, “Deliberation and process, forever!” Or maybe a better bumper sticker would be, “Keep K Street weird!”

But can a disembodied set of teeth run for office successfully? “I would need to give you some pointers,” said Hammond. “Don’t run if you don’t want to win. Don’t run just to have fun.”

Damn. There goes a big chunk of Bites’ campaign platform.

Speaking of Dave Jones, he’s about to change our skyline.

Thanks to legislation Jones authored a while back, having something to do with transferring court facilities from the counties to the state, California is now going to fund a new $550 million courthouse, to be built somewhere in downtown Sacramento.

The new building would take some of the pressure off of the aging Gordon D. Schaber Superior Court courthouse building, which was built in 1965.

The Schaber building was only supposed to house 22 courtrooms. But owing to lots of crime and litigation, there are 44 courtrooms working in there instead. It’s considered by court administrators to be overcrowded and not entirely safe. Bites is going to mention that to the judge as one of the many reasons for trying to shirk jury duty next month.

The new courthouse is either going to be the Taj Mahal of courthouses, or construction costs have really gone through the roof in the last few years.

For comparison:

The new Sacramento City Hall building, completed in 2005, costs $68 million.

The very impressive Robert Matsui federal courthouse building, completed in 1999, cost $134 million.

The U.S. Bank building, that skyscraper at Ninth and J streets that also contains Sacramento’s Central Library, cost $120 million when it was completed in 1991.

The state of the art Joe Serna Jr. Cal/EPA headquarters building cost $170 million when it was completed in 2000.

The Death Star that ate downtown, also known as the East End Project, cost a mere $392 million, and was completed in 2003.

Looking just at costs, the new courthouse will be the mother of all downtown Sacramento building projects. But it’ll still cost less than a new NBA arena.