Budget trailer bill threatens another due process lawsuit — Judge says ‘legislature has gutted plaintiff’s case like a fish’

Editor’s note: This story may be of special interest to those interested in the city of Susanville’s lawsuit against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation et al.

Save Our Capitol! issued the following statement in response to the California Legislature using dead-of-night tactics to change state law, voiding one of four lawsuits filed against the Capitol Annex Project in the process.

“Through the passage and signing of a last-minute trailer bill, the California Legislature and Governor (Gavin) Newsom acknowledged the fact that the Capitol Annex Project, as currently planned, violated state law. By tucking away a provision within Senate Bill 189, the legislature has sidelined the interests of the public by changing existing law to condone their planned demolition-and-rebuild of this important state landmark. Designed after the nation’s Capitol, it is the most significant historic governmental building in California.

Republican District 1 Assemblywoman Megan Dahle and Republican District 1 Senator Brian Dahle both voted nay. The bill passed in the Assembly along party lines 61-17 with two abstentions The bill passed the senate along party line 28-7 with five abstentions.

The backdoor dealing occurred while advocates awaited a decision from the Honorable Christopher E. Krueger regarding Save Our Capitol! v. California Department of General Services, et al. (Case No. 34-2021-00311132-CU-MC-GDS).

The lawsuit was filed on the grounds that the California Department of General Services and Assemblymember Ken Cooley’s Joint Committee on Rules side-stepped state law in moving forward with the Capitol Annex Project without consultation from the State Historic Preservation Officer. In using the trailer bill process, SB 189, sets a dangerous precedent for future legislative exemptions from significant historic state projects that impact millions of Californians and billions of taxpayer dollars.

Following the passage of SB 189, Justice Krueger stated that “the Legislature has gutted Plaintiff’s case like a fish.”

A strong majority of Californians (76.6 percent) oppose the Capitol Annex Project’s plan to demolish the historic Annex, excavate the West Steps, and damage hundreds of trees to build an all-glass replacement, garish visitor center, and underground parking garage — not unlike the existing underground garage which poses a high security risk. Particularly at a time when the city of Sacramento continues to recover from COVID, the last thing residents need is a new decades-long infrastructure project that disrupts an already struggling downtown environment.

Opponents of the illegal demolition instead want to see the Annex undergo an extensive rehabilitation to make it modern and safe for staff and the public, saving state history, hundreds of trees, and hundreds of millions of dollars.

According to a statement from the group, “We will not be deterred by state leadership’s hypocrisy, claiming to practice ‘deliberative Democracy’ while intentionally denying public participation in self-governance. With the support of California voters, taxpayers, small businesses, preservationists, and environmentalists, we will continue to fight to save the historic Annex, Capitol Park, and the West Steps.”