Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), Chair of the Joint Committee on Rules today convened the first of several hearings to examine the condition of the State Capitol Building Annex and the Legislature's options for dealing with this aging “People's House.”
System breakdowns, energy loss, small and hard to maintain lavatories, plumbing leaks and electrical supply issues are among the common, if less obvious issues, which go along with the highly visible crowded corridors and long waits to enter the building. California's Department of General Services (DGS), which maintains all state buildings, has said the 65 year-old Annex is far beyond the expected 50 year useful life of its major systems and many are in disrepair.
Nineteen lawmakers attended the hearing, including Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate Minority Leader Patricia Bates and Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes.
Chairman Cooley expressed his view that as California's foremost “People's House,” the building should support the effective deliberative democracy which is its purpose, enabling the public, persons with Capitol business, and other visitors, including the tens of thousands of schoolkids who visit yearly, to safely and easily come to see their government at work and, when the day is done, be glad they came. He also expressed the philosophy that the purpose of a legislative building is to make the 120 individual lawmakers more productive in their work, so that their allotted time of service – now at most 12 years – is as valuable as possible.
Following Chairman Cooley's opening remarks and brief comment on the Joint Committee on Rules workplan for July and August, he announced a publicly available website for the Annex Project (http://annex.assembly.ca.gov/). The site hosts information on the history of the Annex, pertinent authorizing statutes and resources related to State Capitol restorations. He then gave an overview of the fact finding to-date at other Capitol projects including upgrades to technology, visitor centers, and infrastructure improvements.
“Churchill famously noted that ‘We shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us,’” said Cooley. “With that in mind, it is vital that we plan for a Capitol Annex that offers a productive work environment for support staff and Legislators and fosters productive civic engagement as we shape policies that determine California’s future.”
Bob Ruffner, Principal Consultant of the Senate Committee on Rules and Geanie Hollingsworth, Facilities Director of the Assembly Committee on Rules next provided an analysis of the issues facing the Capitol Annex building. California's 65 year-old Annex, which is home to the Governor’s office, 115 of California’s 120 lawmakers, and key legislative support offices, is among the state’s most-visited public buildings. Built in 1952, the Annex was constructed long before high speed internet, computer networks, cellular technology, and modern building safety standards. The presentations before the committee highlighted these specific issues.
With these matters in mind, and to establish a strong, common framework for committee members, the Joint Committee on Rules sought out and hired for a presentation at today's hearing David Hart, Fellow, American Institute of Architects (FAIA) and Executive Vice President, and Joe Stahlmann of the project management firm MOCA which is widely recognized for its experience with managing complex rebuilding projects of historic State Capitol buildings in Utah, Minnesota, and Wyoming. They were pursued for their unique and very relevant project experience to help orient the full Joint Committee on Rules in the kinds of process and best practices we can learn from. In other states, MOCA has helped elected officials balance infrastructure priorities such as parking, security, proximity, and the free and safe movement of visitors.
“As a civil engineer, I have a keen interest in infrastructure projects and it is not often that you are given the opportunity to work on one of this scale and importance,” said Joint Committee on Rules Vice Chair Anthony Canella (R-Ceres). “As we rebuild the Annex and bring it into the 21st century, we must be mindful to look forward to the future generations from around the world that will come through these halls.”
This is the first of multiple hearings the Joint Committee on Rules plans to hold on the Capitol Annex Project; the next is planned for July 17th at 10:00 a.m. and will feature a more in-depth Annex overview by the California Department of General Services, a summary of the law concerning the State Capitol as it is relevant to the project and overviews of other practical Capitol operation matters the Joint Committee on Rules may wish to address.
CONTACT: Debra Gravert (916) 319-2800