State selects ‘Joseph site’ for new Inyo courthouse

By Deb Murphy

The Judicial Council of California approved the selection of a parcel at the corner of Wye Road and U.S. Hwy. 6, identified as “the Joseph site” for the new Inyo County Courthouse at its Friday meeting in Sacramento.

Bishop Courthouse new location

The site faces one more hurdle: negotiations with the site’s owner which will also need approval by the State Public Works Board, according to Teresa Ruano, supervising communications specialist for the council. The facility will be built on one acre of the 5.47-acre parcel, just south of the Ford dealership.

The 21,000 square-foot structure will include a courtroom, hearing room, improved security features and space for a self-help center, jury assembly and deliberation rooms, clerk’s area, a children’s waiting room, family court mediation and attorney interview/witness waiting rooms. The total authorized project cost is $24,204,000.

County court facilities in Bishop City Hall and the Historic Independence Courthouse will “be vacated” according to the California Courts website. Court functions in Independence will eventually be moved to a “proposed new modular courthouse” adjacent to the County Jail south of town.

Since the passage of the Trial Court Facilities Act of 2002, responsibility for county courthouses moved from the counties to the State of California, specifically the Judicial Council. The list of issues connected with both current court facilites is long and renovation of facilities not owned by the State is not do-able. So, Indy gets a modular sometime after 2022, the tentative date for completion of the new facility.

As the center of the county’s population, Bishop was selected as the location of the new courthouse nearly four years ago with the focus on city-owned land behind City Hall and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power land at the corner of Spruce and MacIver streets. According to the JC’s staff analysis, both sites “were pursued but experienced difficulties in acquiring.” LADWP withdrew the MacIver site and the City of Bishop site experienced “barriers that would delay project timelines by up to two years.”

Cost breakdowns for the new courthouse include $696,000 for acquisition, $1,234,000 for preliminary drawings, $1,636,000 for working drawings and $19,885,000 for construction.

A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment turned up underground storage tanks on adjoining and nearby properties, noting impacts on shallow groundwater. The council will do a Phase II assessment to determine “whether or not these recognized environmental conditions are an issue,” according to the staff analysis.


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63 Responses to State selects ‘Joseph site’ for new Inyo courthouse

  1. earl duran August 21, 2015 at 7:22 am #

    What about the Slugs that live close to Pearsonville, and Olancha. think about the increased Carbon Footprint they will leave, Southern Inyo gets screwed again.

    • Eastern sierra local August 22, 2015 at 10:30 am #

      Did you read the article? The court in Independence is staying

  2. Trouble August 20, 2015 at 8:17 pm #

    It’s a pretty awesome building. Someone suggested maybe it could be a museum. All joking aside, I think that is a great idea.

  3. DESCO August 20, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    The historic building is pretty much done as a public meeting place unless someone comes up with the money to bring it up to modern codes. Probably millions.

  4. Local. August 20, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    There will STILL be a court house in Independence and in Bishop and cases will still be heard in both locations. Jury duty will still be in Independence. The only change is the building.
    The Independence Court House is a county building and is filled with mostly county offices. The court is run by the state.

  5. Bishop Local August 20, 2015 at 10:50 am #

    ooooh a modular….just like Pahrump! I’m sure the whole town will treasure that with the same community pride as the current Courthouse building in 100 years.

    • Eastern Sierra Local August 21, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

      What town?

      • Bishop Local August 21, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

        How about any of them in Inyo County?

  6. Trouble August 20, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Maybe Judge Lamb and Stout got tired of driving thru their speed trap every day!

  7. High Water August 19, 2015 at 9:36 pm #

    If my calculations are correct, $24,000,000.00 ÷ by 22,000 sq. ft. Puts it at $1,100 sq.ft. give or take a couple bucks.

    The losers of this deal, the landowner and the boys who got to do the drawings. 696k he got ripped off. 1,294,000.00 for the pre-lim drawings and 1,600,000.00 for the final drawings, they were fleeced. I can’t believe those drawings were so cheap!!!! You cannot I repeat cannot do drawings for under 3 million dollars. 4.5 million just to break even. Lol!

    • John August 20, 2015 at 9:16 am #

      Leave to the State to pay to much per square foot. You can blame union lobbyist and corrupt politicians in Sac.

  8. Tinner August 19, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

    This will make affordable housing even more difficult to find than it already is.

  9. High Water August 19, 2015 at 2:34 pm #

    This is embarrassing! It really is. How many millions I mean millions of Americans would love to drive 45 miles everyday from Bishop to Indy knowing they would never sit in traffic jams? They would tell you you are the luckiest commuter alive.
    A new divided highway that offers views of wild life and scenic mountain views, and the commute is 35 to 40 minutes. Everyday you know what time you’ll be home, no traffic jams, accidents, etc.
    We couldn’t be fair to the rest of our county residents could we. No, we got greedy and arrogant and act like Bishop is the end all, be all. It’s a shame! It really is. It belongs in Indy that’s where it is now and it’s where it should be.

    • Low-Inyo August 19, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

      High Water ;…..I agree 100 % with you on this one !!!!

    • Eastern sierra local August 20, 2015 at 6:00 am #

      Yawn, 90 mile round trip is great simply because the scenery is nice? You must be retired and have time to burn.

      • High Water August 21, 2015 at 8:38 am #

        Yawn, says the spoiled inyo county employee.

        • Eastern sierra local August 22, 2015 at 10:28 am #

          You claim to know where I work- you just deflated your comment altogether.

          • High Water August 22, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

            Lol! Like, I really know where you work! We all know I don’t. relax I think most of us understood what I meant.
            Your sensitivity to my “claim” makes me believe that I’m probably right.

            Lol! It’s irrelevant either way. RELAX

  10. DESCO August 19, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    “proposed new modular courthouse” adjacent to the County Jail south of town.”

    Key word “proposed”. Politico speak for “will never happen”.

  11. grace August 19, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    Let’s call this new courthouse the Bishop City Courthouse, not a new Inyo County Courthouse. Did anyone really think state bureaucrats were going to pick a site anywhere other than where the judges and lawyers reside? It’s called job security. If Independence can weather the full-out assault by the City of Los Angeles in keeping down its population and growth through land ownership, they’ll be able to withstand a few state bureaucrats and their self-serving decisions for cronies.

    • Eastern sierra local August 22, 2015 at 10:26 am #

      The selection of the site had nothing to do with where the judges and lawyers live, but everything with where the majority of Inyo County’s population lives and where the majority of cases are originated; Poverty Hills to Mono County line.

  12. Larry August 19, 2015 at 11:10 am #

    Courthouse should be built in Big Pine the population center of the county,
    Wye road and Highway 6 are almost in Mono county nearly as bad of location as the Bishop Cerro Coso college site. Town center like old Kmart site would make more sense than Wye road the opposite side of Bishop for almost everyone in the county!

    • Eastern sierra local August 20, 2015 at 5:58 am #

      If you attended any of the meetings regarding this you would know that the old kmart was the courts preferred alternative, kmart Corp refused to lease/sell it to the courts.

      • Larry August 20, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

        obviously then it is a desirable site so get it, the government has authority to take a site if they choose and the old Kmart would be one of the few locations it is appropriate!
        as mentioned by others the Wye road site is a sprawl development totally out of place and contrary to most current planning!
        just adds to the bizarre lack of planning vision of the Bishop area highlighted by ugly Main St, poor parking options and the lack of intelligent design of Wye road, Hwy 6 and 395 !

        • Eastern Sierra Local August 21, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

          Private property take on behalf of government is very difficult and usually ends up in court costing significant amounts of taxpayers money to litigate.
          The location on Wye Road and US 6 is zoned for this type of facility- it’s commercial. Also this corner is served by the local bus system.
          I preferred the downtown location but the City refused to sell that location because of vocal minority of opponents who showed up to the public hearing.

          • sugarmagnolia August 21, 2015 at 5:31 pm #

            I disagree, governments exercise their power of eminent domain quite often. Most don’t go to court.

          • High Water August 22, 2015 at 4:05 pm #

            So how much pull did you have I’m all of this?

        • Jolly Time August 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm #

          “…as mentioned by others the Wye road site is a sprawl development totally out of place and contrary to most current planning!
          just adds to the bizarre lack of planning vision of the Bishop area highlighted by ugly Main St, poor parking options and the lack of intelligent design of Wye road, Hwy 6 and 395 !”

          Amen to that!

  13. Trouble August 19, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    What’s going to happen to the other two court houses we already have?

    • Eastern sierra local August 20, 2015 at 5:56 am #

      Re-read the article, it’s pretty clear what will happen.

  14. Jim Wilson August 19, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    What about the people in far southeastern Inyo County, Shoshone, Tecopa, Charleston View? It’s already a hardship just getting to Independence, now add another 80+ miles to their round-trip. This is ill advised, at best.

    • Eastern sierra local August 20, 2015 at 5:55 am #

      You must not have read the article, the court in independence will remain.

  15. Darwin Digger August 19, 2015 at 8:04 am #

    What if you live in Darwin and get called for Jury Duty, or need to go fight a traffic ticket you got from the Sheriff? As it is, you’d already have to drive about 55 miles from Darwin. Now that it will be in Bishop, its going to be close to 100 miles…each way. Yeah, that’s fair. Just because the Bishop area has a large population doesn’t mean that we should move everything there. If you add up the total population of Inyo County, there are more people living outside of Bishop than in Bishop. So why should the rest of us take it up the tail pipe so that people on the far north end of the County get the luxury of having the courthouse there? I guess the judges like to eat at Schats.

    • John August 19, 2015 at 8:58 am #

      Build the court house in Darwin

    • Eastern Sierra Local August 19, 2015 at 10:24 am #

      But that won’t happen because the Courthouse in Independence is going to remain and stay open- did you read the article? ……”Court functions in Independence will eventually be moved to a “proposed new modular courthouse” adjacent to the County Jail south of town.”

    • Trouble August 19, 2015 at 10:49 am #

      I’m not sure I’d want anyone from Darwin on my jury! 🙂 🙂

      • Low-Inyo August 19, 2015 at 11:55 am #

        Trouble ;…Actually Darwin isn’t what it “used” to be,if you know what I mean….kind of a laid-back “hippie-type” place now…..artists and the like..They are saying Keeler is the “new Darwin”….if you know what they mean when they say that….

        • Trouble August 19, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

          Maybe we can turn one of our extra court house”s into a brothel ?Or a poker house?

          • Really? August 19, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

            It would be a great museum.

          • Philip Anaya August 20, 2015 at 4:07 am #

            For starters, get the Library out of the basement . Time to start looking for a plan to utilize the building and some grant funding for the transition . How about a partnership with County Schools. The important concerns of the Southern Inyo regarding the decision of the Court location even after years have still not been adequetly addressed . The progress of the development of the Court needs to now include a plan for Independence, the Historic Courthouse and the residents of the Southern Inyo County. It’s never to early for the BoS to initiate a series of workshops for “Talking Courthouse”

  16. Eastern Sierra Local August 19, 2015 at 7:25 am #

    It’s amazing how sensible the decisions are when NOT decided upon by locals!
    70% of Inyo County’s population lives north of the Poverty Hills and 80% of the court cases in Inyo County are generated in the same location; yet the “reasonable” citizens of Inyo County think that those court cases should be heard 45 miles away in Independence because it’s a “historic” building and we need to keep Independence propped up with more government funds? – DUH!

  17. Steve August 19, 2015 at 6:44 am #

    Short sighted GREED for a county that can’t even haul out the trash. And for all the employees that will work in the new building same on you for killing the only true court house Inyo will ever have.

  18. DESCO August 19, 2015 at 5:44 am #

    Shhh. Hear that ringing? It’s the death knell for Independence.

  19. Chris Forte August 18, 2015 at 9:15 pm #

    I’m from Bishop and I think this is all wrong. First: the location in Bishop specifically is wrong: it is a mixed light industrial and commercial area on the edge of town that is not suited for this type of development and the resulting development, activity, and traffic it will create. 2.) Independence is a central location in the county (more or less, at least for OV towns), and, unlike Bishop, needs something like court activity to maintain its economy, and, 3.) what will happen to the historic County Courthouse? Will it just be abandoned like the Vons/KMart Center in Bishop? Or rented or bought by some hotel, apartment, or condo company or other type of business, or, worse yet, even be torn down?

    • Bishop Local August 19, 2015 at 8:07 am #

      Thank you Chris. I mean, it addition to all other issues with moving the courthouse out of Indy (travel time for people from the far reaches of Inyo County, etc), why on earth is it being placed on the edge of town next to a truck stop? What a wasted opportunity to create a nicer downtown! Instead the County is vacating a ton of buildings in town, and in collaboration with the court, building a more sprawling Bishop. How very attractive.

  20. Low-Inyo August 18, 2015 at 8:47 pm #

    Jim : With your post,it sounds kinda like one of those “me,me,me” things.What about the people called for jury duty in Lone Pine,Olancha,Cartago,and what about the little town of Independence,and the little bit of revenue the historic Courthouse brings that town ?…your post reminds me a lot of when people in Mammoth insist on moving the County seat from Bridgeport to the TOML in order to make things easier,better and more economical,more $$$ for THEM and the hell with the town Bridgeport and that historical building they have there….if your so worried about the cost of your time,money and fuel when called for jury duty,do like so many others do….find a way out of it.

  21. Indy Resident August 18, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

    Its time to make ‘Bishop’ their own little county… Little do they know that much of their city is ‘Bishop’ and a city which has nothing to do with the county… the outlaying is County. Leave us alone… We have the highest and lowest in the continental US.. We have the highest tourist income.. Lets just draw the line at Sunland Drive and the little county of Inyo can move on. Why accept a position of employment in Independence if you live in Bishop and cry and moan when you have to go to work… How about the extreme south cities that rely on Indy for their court issues… Now we have to drive 75+ miles to go to jury duty? Now you just have to to roll out of bed, walk a few blocks and do jury duty… Yep.. im crying a river… but seriously… Inyo exsists south of BISHOP

    • Eastern Sierra Local August 19, 2015 at 10:26 am #

      Did you read the article? …..”Court functions in Independence will eventually be moved to a “proposed new modular courthouse” adjacent to the County Jail south of town.”
      There’s your answer.

  22. Trouble August 18, 2015 at 8:28 pm #

    That’s twelve million per judge, guess I should spell that with a capital?

  23. Jenifer Castaneda August 18, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

    So all of us tax payers will be paying, out of the general fund, to transport each inmate, for every court appearance to and from the Independence jail? Some of us wanted to put this up as a ballot measure to get the voters opinion but we were sued by the County. I only wish the voters could decide and not the powers that be.

    • Eastern Sierra Local August 19, 2015 at 10:34 am #

      It’s amazing how sensible the decisions are when NOT decided upon by locals!
      Even if it was put up to a vote the majority of Inyo County voters (~70% live north of the Poverty Hills) the decision WOULD NOT be Independence.

      The tax payers (potential jurors) are paying out of their own pockets to drive 90 miles round trip to go to jury duty now.

      • High Water August 19, 2015 at 5:05 pm #

        Eastern Sierra Local: You say it’s amazing how sensible decisions are when NOT decided by locals.

        For example. The nearest Air Force recruiter who used to be out of Lancaster is now out of Fresno! Those smart people who know the geography said wow! Fresno is only 90 miles away, Lancaster, Palmdale 230 miles away. Now, recruiters and recruits can be only 1 1/2 hrs instead of 3 1/2 hrs from each other. How bout, when you search for a car online, and it asks you how many miles away from your home do want to search. Put in 100 miles and everything is in Fresno and Sacramento.
        I definitely see your point!!!! Thank you.

        • Eastern sierra local August 20, 2015 at 5:52 am #

          The nearest recruiter wouldn’t be in Fresno but Carson City.
          And really, you don’t shop local when buying a car?

    • JOE August 19, 2015 at 10:51 am #

      Read between the lines Jennifer and here is the future headline: “Jail to be relocated in Bishop due to cost of inmate transport.”

      • Pedro August 19, 2015 at 4:53 pm #

        Na, Bishop is not buying the cow pies when they get the teat for free. We will hear how it’s unfair for them to take the jail, dire environmental impacts, violations of Fish and Game regs, lack of housing for employees, danger to their fair youth, etc.

        More likely we will hear how Independece needs the jobs from the new County dump at the old court site.

    • Really? August 19, 2015 at 3:28 pm #

      It is better to drive one crook to Bishop than have 14 jurors, court reporters, lawyers, judges etc all drive to Independence every day for a trial. In the vast majority of criminal trials the defendant is out on bail. It makes good sense to put the court near the population center where the majority of crime takes place.

      • Low-Inyo August 19, 2015 at 7:24 pm #

        Really ?….Let’s face it….In the VERY vast majority,the defendant gets out with a low-bail….the case is plea-bargined down to next to nothing….no service……and then when you check the Inyo County Sheriffs “Citizen RIMS” page a couple weeks later,there they are again….to start the procedure all over again….and again.

    • Michael Rogers August 20, 2015 at 12:03 pm #

      Check the county’s “General Plan”. County is going against what they encourage.

  24. Jolly Time August 18, 2015 at 7:38 pm #

    It’s a shame that we couldn’t have a civic center, oh, I don’t know, in the center of town.

    • Bad Duck August 20, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

      Don’t worry, downtown will be moving north to follow the courthouse. There will be plenty of room for a civic center then.

  25. Jim August 18, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

    Great news. I’m tired of driving to Independence for Jury Duty, wasting time, money, and fuel. Next, it’s time to move the County Seat to Bishop. Let’s get the petition moving…

    • Pedro August 18, 2015 at 7:54 pm #

      Ya, screw anyone who lives in the other 10,000 square miles of Inyo.

  26. Trouble August 18, 2015 at 4:37 pm #

    Wow, almost three million for drawings alone. I should have stayed in school .


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