Court Upholds Ruling: Capitol Annex Project Violated Environmental Law

(Sacramento, CA) – On January 18, 2023, the California Third District Court of Appeal issued a new opinion regarding the Capitol Annex Project, upholding their original ruling which found that the California Department of General Services (DGS) and Joint Committee on Rules of the California State Senate and Assembly (JRC) failed to properly certify the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), depriving the public and California lawmakers from commenting on significant environmental and historical impacts to a state and nationally registered landmark.

“Save Our Capitol! is pleased that the court reaffirmed its earlier decision requiring DGS and JRC to do what they should have done from the start of the Project: fully evaluate environmental impacts. As of now, the West Steps are safe from destruction—a major win for the people of California. It is unfortunate that legal action was required to compel DGS and JRC to follow the law but Save Our Capitol! is hopeful that they avoid leaving the public out of significant decisions in the future,” said Stephen Cook, attorney for Save Our Capitol!.

The ruling requires DGS and JRC to recirculate portions of the EIR related to the West Steps and the design of the new Annex.

“While we’re disappointed that the court will allow DGS and JRC to proceed with other aspects of the Project, including the destruction of the historic Capitol Annex starting in March, knowing that DGS and JRC cannot continue without public input on other aspects of the Project is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Cook.

As the state faces a $22 billion deficit, leading to cuts to social safety net programs, Save Our Capitol! encourages the Legislature to reevaluate their priorities and reallocate funds from the Capitol Annex Project for these programs. Experts state that the historic Annex can be rehabilitated and modernized for a fraction of the proposed $1.2 billion price tag.

“We are pleased that they must now listen to the public regarding ‘The People’s Capitol,’ and choose a design that blends seamlessly into the 1860s Capitol. We will continue our fight to affirm that the West Lawn, Plaza, and Steps will be preserved as the designated location for civic participation, as well as urge the Legislature to rehabilitate, not demolish the historic Annex,” said Dick Cowan, former chair of the Historic State Capitol Commission and engineer involved in the restoration of the 1860s Capitol.