By Anisca Miles, Ashley Zavala
FOX 40 News
December 3, 2021
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — A major move is underway at the California Capitol as crews pile up and roll out boxes filled with the belongings of lawmakers and staff, clearing out the offices and hallways of the Capitol annex.
“This building gets two million people visiting a year,” Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, told FOX40.
Cooley gave FOX40 a tour of the work being done. The annex is set to be demolished to make way for a new, upgraded space.
For the last seven decades, the annex has housed executive and legislative offices and has been a main artery of the Capitol.
“It is monumental to figure out how do you keep the legislature functioning as an institution when you try to tackle deficiencies in this building long ago identified by Schwarzenegger,” Cooley said.
The project is expected to cost taxpayers about $1.2 billion and was approved by lawmakers in 2018.
Legislators defending the demolition noted the current annex has asbestos, limited access for people with disabilities and a lack of safety measures like exits and sprinklers.
The new space will include about $100 million in security upgrades.
“It will be a more secure, modern Capitol and will allow the legislature to be more functional by bringing all the pieces back under one roof,” Cooley explained.
Lawmakers say they expect the bulldozing to begin around March 2022, depending on how the courts rule in the multiple lawsuits filed against the project.
“The legislature’s job was to maintain that building for the last 70 years, but they didn’t do that well,” said Wayne Donaldson.
Donaldson was a state historic preservation officer. He’s a part of one of the lawsuits against the project, which he says will send history into a landfill, potentially cut down several historic trees – including the moon tree – and present other environmental issues.
“The whole process has been mysterious,” Donaldson told FOX40. “It’s been behind closed doors, and it’s just incredibly frustrating to see how the legislature has done this.”
For now, lawmakers are still making their move into a temporary space in a brand new legislative building about a block away.
The building has color-coded floors and updated electric, air and water filtration systems.
The temporary space is expected to open up to the public on Jan. 3. Lawmakers are expected to work out of the space for about four years or as long as the construction is underway.