Crumbling Seat of Govt Looks Towards a Facelift

Sacramento, CA   |  Debra Gravert, Office of Ken Cooley
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Ken Cooley at the Annex Hearing. Photo courtesy Office of Ken Cooley

Sacramento, CA (MPG) - Chairman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) of the Joint Committee on Rules convened the second of several hearings to examine the condition of the State Capitol Building Annex and the Legislature's options for dealing with California’s aging seat of government on July17th, 2017.

“The functionality of our State Capitol Annex is key to our ability to govern,” said Chairman Cooley. “Today’s hearing made clear that the current status of our building does not match our basic needs as a co-equal branch of government.  Our partners in the Executive branch stand ready to help move us forward to build a ‘People’s House’ we can all be proud of for the next century.”

Testimony at the committee began with strong statements of commitment from Marybel Batjer, Secretary, Government Operations Agency and Daniel C. Kim, Director, Department of General Services (DGS) for the Legislature’s endeavor.  Jason Kenney, Chief, Project Management and Development Branch, DGS then gave a presentation regarding the current conditions and status of the building and what next steps can be taken.

Mr. Kenney remarked on the fact that the Capitol’s East Annex was finished in 1952 and was designed for a part-time Legislature and before modern technology.  Today, the Annex’s wear and tear has significantly increased beyond its original intended usage.  There have not been any significant renovations to the major systems in need of repair.  Many “band-aids” have been used, but most upgrades cannot be done while the building is occupied.  According to Mr. Kenney, this project offers the Legislature an incredible opportunity to make significant upgrades to security, technology, and the free movement of people.  He also spoke about the planning process to identify space for lawmakers and staff during construction and potential Capitol Park impacts. 

Diane Boyer-Vine, Legislative Counsel, next spoke on the law and legal precedent for Capitol projects.  She remarked that the Legislature is the law-making branch and that this is reflected in the law governing the Capitol, with the exception of the first floor that houses the Governor and Lieutenant Governor and is overseen by DGS.  She also described the funding that was set up by SB 836 of 2016, which also outlines legislative control over the building and its zoning.

One of Chairman Cooley’s primary considerations has been to engage security partners from the beginning so that safety components are integrated into the initial design as opposed to attempting to fit these needs as an afterthought into an already re-constructed building.  To conclude the Joint Rules hearing, a presentation on public building design considerations by Senate Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Debbie Manning, Assembly Chief Sergeant-at-Arms Bryon Gustafson, and California Highway Patrol Chief Chris Main reinforced the need to make security discussions a priority.  Many security considerations in the Capitol have been a reaction to incidents at the Capitol or elsewhere and are outside of the basic architectural design.  A more in-depth look at the particular security needs will be delivered to the Joint Committee on Rules during a closed meeting on August 22, 2017.

The Assembly maintains a website for the Architectural Program for California’s Capitol at http://annex.assembly.ca.gov/.  The full video of the hearing is posted on the website.

Source: Office of Ken Cooley