Updated information on new Inyo courthouse

(Note: There were errors in the new Inyo Courthouse article: The approving body for the site was the State Public Works Board whose meeting was Monday, August 17; the modular in independence will not have to wait for the completion of the new courthouse in 2022 and should be on-site and functioning within “a couple of years,” and the staff analysis transposed issues with the two alternate sites. The City Bishop withdrew the site behind City Hall and there were timeline issues with the MacIver site.

We regret the errors.)

Here is an updated story:

By Deb Murphy

The State Public Works Board 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 August 17 meeting in Sacramento.

future courthouse site

The site faces one more hurdle: negotiations with the site’s owner which will also need approval by the Board, according to Teresa Ruano, supervising communications specialist for the Judicial Council of California. 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 Independence.

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 facilities is long and renovation of facilities not owned by the State is not do-able. So, Indy gets a modular.

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 Public Works Board staff analysis, both sites “were pursued but experienced difficulties in acquiring.” The City withdrew the MacIver site and LADWP 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. The project is scheduled for completion in 2022.

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


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10 Responses to Updated information on new Inyo courthouse

  1. Bishop Local August 26, 2015 at 11:42 am #

    @ Y. O’Wye

    Well said. Thank you!

    This is such a wasted opportunity for improving Bishop. Our community leaders and planners should be ashamed.

  2. Y. O'Wye August 25, 2015 at 8:27 am #


    $24 million of public funds for a building no one ever really wants to go to, proposed for a location no one really likes.

    As others have noted, a new courthouse facility in central Bishop would be as the tide, synergistically raising many commercial boats in the vicinity.

    It would also prompt – at state rather than city expense – improvements to the infrastructure of central Bishop, further enhancing the city’s commercial capabilities.

    A new facility at the north end of Bishop provides neither benefit: it will be too far, time-wise, for the public and court staff to walk anywhere, and the required new infrastructure will predominately if not exclusively benefit the courthouse.

    (As to the first point: I guess jurors will get their lunch from the vending machines at the nearby Ford dealership? (I know – the $24 mill includes the cost of state-of-the art vending machines for the court) and in true SoCal fashion, the court employees will DRIVE back into Bishop for lunch?)

    One of our two elected Inyo County Superior Court Judges, the Honorable Dean T. Stout, is a member of the California Judicial Council, which is responsible for all new courthouse constriction in the state.

    I therefore respectfully call on Judge Stout to represent the interests of Bishop and common sense and do what he can to have the State Public Works Board revisit this unwise decision before it gains any further bureaucratic momentum.


    • Charles O. Jones August 26, 2015 at 1:03 pm #

      Where would you propose as a better location? Are there any similar sized chunks of land available in the commercial center of town?

      • Favorite Visitor August 27, 2015 at 10:06 am #

        Well, there was the parking lot behind the courthouse. There was also the vacant K-Mart.

        There are a ton of underutilized utility laydown yards (isn’t SCE moving? …also to the middle of nowhere outside of town?) and empty parking lots across from City Hall on the South Side of Line Street.

        The County is about to leave a bunch of commercial buildings vacant which could be reused. Don’t tell me that all property owners would rather hold on to something with limited rental prospects on the horizon, than sell the property to the State (how much did they pay the Josephs, again?).

        Didn’t I hear the rumor that one of our major government employers will be moving to Cottonwood Plaza, and wouldn’t that open up additional redevelopment opportunities?

        We can’t complain that there are too many empty buildings, and then say there is no opportunity for redevelopment, and that we have to building more buildings on the edge of town. And I don’t think another chance to use the State’s money to improve downtown will come for a few generations.

        • Charles O. Jones August 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm #

          I don’t have a dog in this fight. I was responding to a seven paragraph post that was heavy on criticism and very short on solutions or ideas. And my questions were genuine. Are you aware of the status of any of the locations you’ve listed? And if they’re available, how they’d compare with the proposed location in regards to price and size?

          • Favorite Visitor August 28, 2015 at 12:43 pm #


            No worries. I prefer it when people ask hard questions. To be perfectly forthcoming, I’m not sure of the particulars of those sites, except to say that there are options, and there were better options that the Court had considered very seriously, some of which were declined by the City and County for undisclosed reasons.

  3. Zack August 22, 2015 at 7:38 am #

    I agree with using the old Kmart building, lots of parking and even next to the probation office. Might as well use that wasted space for something.

  4. sugarmagnolia August 21, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

    yes, doesn’t the State Court system have the power of eminent domain? The ‘taking’ (with compensation of course) of a mostly empty property would seem non-controversial. I’d love to see the courthouse right there, on already developed property, nearer to the center of town.

  5. Bishop Local August 21, 2015 at 2:14 pm #

    “According to Public Works Board staff analysis, both sites “were pursued but experienced difficulties in acquiring.” The City withdrew the MacIver site and LADWP site experienced “barriers that would delay project timelines by up to two years.”


    It seems like this should read that the City withdrew the CITY OWNED SITE behind City Hall, and the LADWP site experienced barriers to acquisition (I thought the LADWP site and the MacIver site are the same).

    So, here’s my question(s), and I’d truly love some answers on these:
    Why did the City withdraw the proposed site in downtown? How were there difficulties in acquisition? The City owns the site.

    How was parking an issue? There was a study indicating that there is sufficient parking and that the proposed courthouse wouldn’t occupy the entire lot, and would therefore only requirement a few parking space to be used anyway – the rest of the parking spaces would remain.

    If the facility is anticipated to open in 7 years, and we’ve already wasted almost two trying to find another site – what were the delays, exactly?

    If the Joseph site has underground tanks and other contamination issues, what was the problem with the site in town?

    And finally… seriously…when will we see some leadership on that damned blighted hole in the middle of town?! It seems to me that if the Courthouse looked at putting it in downtown or reusing the KMart site, they seemed to understand good planning principles. Where are our City and County leaders on making decisions that actually reflect our General Plan, instead of contributing to sprawl and vacancies?

  6. Steve August 21, 2015 at 6:44 am #

    So Northern Inyo get’s a 24 million dollar court house and Southern Inyo get’s trailers. Got it that seams real fair. NOT.

    I think 24 million dollars could easily fix the only real court house Inyo will ever have.

    I voted for Brian Lamb but it was a big mistake, I had no idea he would be so bad for Inyo. He was the one person that could stop this in it’s tracks but he push for and voted to make it happen.


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