The California Capitol Remains Under Threat

“The California Capitol is one of the most significant complexes

of historic buildings in California, the importance of which is

comparable to the United States Capitol—upon which the design

of the original California Capitol was, in fact, based.”

—Preservation Architect Mark Hulbert, October 8, 2021

Letter to Governor Gavin Newsom

“If the city of Sacramento had any claim to having a ‘sacred space’

it would be the West steps.”

—John Allen, Historian

Comment letter on the revised EIR for the Capitol Annex Project

(Sacramento, CA - November 13, 2023) – The California Capitol remains under threat. The Legislature has succeeded in demolishing the historic Annex through its Capitol Annex Project.

The Legislature also wants to destroy the west side of the original historic Capitol by removing the West lawn, West Plaza, and West Steps to make room for a visitor center which will radically alter the façade. It will impede Californians’ ability to gather in large numbers to celebrate, and to protest as they have since its designation as the preferred place to exercise constitutional freedoms including to petition the government for redress of grievances.

This has been a long battle. In 2019, the Department of General Services ("DGS"), released an Environmental Impact Report ("EIR") that inadequately analyzed:

After receiving many comments about the significant negative impacts of the project, DGS made modifications but once again prepared an inadequate analysis of these modifications in a Recirculated EIR in January of 2020. More comments were received. After months of silence, DGS certified the EIR in August of 2021.

Save Our Capitol! (“SOC!”) and its sister organization Save the Capitol, Save the Trees immediately filed lawsuits, detailing the deficiencies in both EIR documents. In July 2022, the trial court denied SOC!’s challenge to the Project. On appeal, the Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision, and found that the EIR was deficient in:

The Court also found that there was a lack of public input into the EIR process.

DGS prepared a Revised EIR that was released for public comment on May 1, 2023, to June 15, 2023.

Save Our Capitol!, together with its partners and supporters, provided many comments to the Revised EIR, explaining how it remains inadequate.

Some submittals include minor edits, while others include minor additions to amplify text and photographs.

Save Our Capitol! has made the following letters available on its website,

Save Our Capitol! is dedicated to saving the entire historic West side of the Capitol. While the historic Annex has been thrown away by the Legislature, the West Lawn, West Plaza, and West Steps still can be preserved and remain a pivotal place for California politics, and, importantly, the historic site for the people to participate in self-government at the people’s Capitol.