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Santa Ana Battling to Keep Court in City

The state 4th District Court of Appeal could be moved to the UC Irvine campus if a suitable downtown location can't be found.

June 17, 2003|Jennifer Mena | Times Staff Writer

Santa Ana officials, eager to maintain the prestige and the jobs that go with having a state appellate court in their city, are trying to thwart an effort to move the jurists to UC Irvine, where a courthouse would be among a very few on a U.S. college campus.

City leaders are writing letters and contacting state representatives to urge them to keep the 4th District Court of Appeal in downtown Santa Ana, where there already are federal and superior courts.

At issue is whether the city can provide enough land to build a new 4th District Court of Appeal, which now is in an overcrowded facility at 925 N. Spurgeon St., with a satellite office at 500 W. Santa Ana Blvd. State Sen. Joe Dunn (D-Santa Ana) said the property offered by the city is too small and would require a taller, more expensive building.

"I have encouraged Santa Ana to submit another proposal," Dunn said. "If they can't, I'm a proponent of moving the court to UCI."

City Councilman Jose Solorio has joined with Councilwoman Claudia Alvarez in asking fellow council members to pass a resolution calling for the appeals court to remain in Santa Ana.

"We need to maintain our civic center intact," Solorio said. "We need all our representatives working on this."

The 20-year-old appeals court long ago outgrew its existing space. In 1999, nine locations were considered in downtown Santa Ana for a larger court. But none had the needed parking.

City officials say they have made special accommodations to keep the court in the city because it employs 100 people and is one of a trio of courts that bolster Santa Ana's image as the county seat.

They found a location they believed the court accepted, City Manager Dave Ream said. Ream said the city ended a lease last year with the Orange County Probation Department at the corner of Ross Street and Santa Ana Boulevard to make room for the court and secured discounted parking for employees at a nearby structure.

About three weeks ago, Ream said, he received a letter from the state General Services Administration, which negotiates real estate transactions for state agencies. "It just said they wanted to initiate a new site search," Ream said. "The only word we got is that they did not like the off-site employee parking."

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