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Source : Capital Annex Project
September 29, 2023
Author : Alex Bustillos
Construction of a new annex to the California state capitol and an underground parking garage can legally begin as per the state's final court-ordered review of the project earlier this month.
The underground parking garage will allow the parking of up to 200 vehicles and is located next to but is separated from the perimeter foundation of the Capitol.
A West Wing visitor's center and pavilion space is also planned to provide individual visitors and groups welcome entry into the Capitol, but its construction is not imminent.
During the Annex construction, there will also be some temporary modifications on the West Wing to support the historic chambers with caucusing areas, Sergeant's support services, and desk operations.
Due to some legal disputes, construction plans for a new annex, a building linked to the historic domed Capitol that houses offices for state legislators and the governor, have been put on hold since early 2021.
In December, a Sacramento appellate court determined that the state needed to collect more feedback from the public on various project aspects, including a suggested glass design for the new Annex.
The court approved demolishing the former Annex earlier this summer, and a few administration officials and state legislators relocated to new offices late in 2021.
According to the spokesperson for the assembly, James Ramos (D-Highland), who is the chairman of the Joint Rules Committee of the legislature, the project is now certified as a result of the final report, and the Annex construction is progressing.
In its final environmental report, the Department of General Services stated that the proposed project will no longer change in response to public feedback, and the plans remain the same.
According to the court-ordered report that addresses public complaints over the new visitor's center, it concentrated on the project's environmental effects but avoided addressing its cost, which is anticipated to exceed $1.2 billion.
As per the multi-year revamp, a new visitor's center will be built under the Capitol's west side. Most visitors and school groups will use the new ramped entrance on 10th Street as an entry point. The DGS hasn't approved the construction of the visitor's center.
Some residents and business owners of Sacramento expressed worry about the visitor center limiting space on the west side, where large protests and other gatherings often occur.
DGS insisted that "very large events will continue to be supported, although the gathering locations and travel routes will differ somewhat from the current situation" in the final report.
Some group members who filed the lawsuit are also worried about the impact of large-scale construction on hundreds of Capitol Park trees. Like a sequoia tree that sprang from a sapling that orbited the moon, a few trees will be kept in their current locations during development.
According to the article, six trees, including five Japanese cherry blossoms and one fan palm, have already perished due to the construction project. The state promised to replace any trees in kind if they cannot resist construction.
Numerous other trees, including dozens of 141-year-old palm trees that seem to have trouble surviving, are transplanted.