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Supervisors to Fund New Antelope Valley Courthouse

March 09, 1994|CHIP JOHNSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan by Supervisor Mike Antonovich to find $2 million to $3 million in this year's county budget to complete plans for a new courthouse in the Antelope Valley.

Under a state law that sets the county's court-construction schedule, three planned courthouses in North Hollywood, Westchester and Chatsworth are scheduled to be built before the Antelope Valley court, but county officials say the need in the isolated north county may be greater.

The population boom in the Antelope Valley in the 1980s has convinced supervisors that a planned $80-million, 21-courtroom building in Lancaster takes precedence over a state mandate to put up a new courthouse in North Hollywood, said Lori Howard, an aide to Antonovich.

Under a Jan. 11 motion by Antonovich, county officials are seeking to change a state law to allow them to place the Antelope Valley project ahead of the North Hollywood courthouse.

"We're not saying that we don't want a court in North Hollywood, but the Antelope Valley court would take priority," Howard said. The 25-courtroom Van Nuys facility is able to absorb most cases coming out of the North Hollywood area, she added.

Currently, the courthouse in Lancaster tries to manage all of its criminal proceedings in six courtrooms, Howard said. Civil cases are heard at the county library.

Antonovich, whose 5th district includes all of Antelope and most of the San Fernando valleys, gained the support of prosecutors and judges in lobbying for a new courthouse in the sprawling northern part of the county.

Antonovich said the damage caused to Sierra Highway in the Northridge earthquake--which made it more difficult for Antelope Valley residents to reach courthouses in Los Angeles--was another factor in the board's decision.

"It's a step forward in bringing judicial representation to the Antelope Valley," Antonovich said. "The earthquake, snowstorms and the Sierra Highway closing have proven to the board that a court to meet the needs of the people has to be built."

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