San Francisco is a very expensive place in which to do business. Bloomberg Business reports that, in addition to sky-high rents for apartment dwellers and businesses, San Francisco is now the world’s most expensive place for visitors to spend the night. Parking, gasoline, groceries—everything costs more in The City.
So why does the AOC insist on staying there? Why won’t it move to Sacramento, thereby freeing up millions of taxpayer dollars that could go to our cash-strapped trial courts?
Last Friday, AOC Administrative Director Martin Hoshino sent out an email announcing that the AOC’s Burbank office would close, but that the central bureaucracy and hundreds of its employees would remain ensconced in the most expensive city in our state. According to Mr. Hoshino, keeping the San Francisco office "preserves critical institutional knowledge and maintains service continuity for our customers and clients statewide." Mr. Hoshino's email is reprinted below.
In choosing to keep the AOC in San Francisco, our branch leaders are ignoring the strong recommendation contained in the highly regarded 2012 Strategic Evaluation Committee report, commissioned by the Chief Justice herself. The report’s authors concluded:
“The high cost of the lease in San Francisco certainly underscores the need for the AOC to evaluate the continued economic viability of that location in the course of conducting its long-range planning. . . . . In this case, the Sacramento lease rates are substantially lower than the space leased in San Francisco. There is other value to be realized by relocating AOC headquarters to Sacramento. If the AOC had its primary operations in Sacramento, that would place its headquarters in the political capital of California and emphasize the standing of the judicial branch as a co-equal branch of state government. Increasingly, the future of the judiciary may depend on its budgetary success in the capital. A relocation of headquarters to Sacramento would provide potential benefits to the branch in its dealings with the executive branch and various administrative agencies located in Sacramento. While relocating to Sacramento or to other locations would require long-range planning, and would require time to execute, it is appropriate and necessary to consider this as a component of the AOC’s long-range plans.
The SEC’s thinking was reiterated just this past January by the State Auditor, who found:
“[T]he AOC has not sufficiently justified the increased expenses associated with maintaining its headquarters in San Francisco, where it pays far higher rent than it does in Sacramento. Consolidation of all its work locations in Sacramento would likely result in significant savings and could improve its employees’ productivity because the majority of its managers and staff would be in the same location.”
You can find Maria Dinzeo’s article on the AOC’s stubborn refusal to give up its San Francisco digs at this link. We urge the Judicial Council to reject the staff's recommendations. But given that the Chief Justice has made it clear that she wants to keep the overblown bureaucracy in San Francisco, and since most of the voting members of the Council were appointed by her, the only thing standing between the recommendation and the vote to adopt it is time.
Meanwhile, in other news, the Judicial Council begrudgingly gave $49,000 to our colleagues from Mono Superior Court—the $33,000 in reserves it forked over to the state, plus an additional $16,000—to avoid further service cutbacks. The Council made Mono County sweat before it finally authorized the bailout. You can read more about the Mono County vote here.
So while the Judicial Council is refusing to generate millions in savings by moving to Sacramento, it’s nickel-and-diming the trial courts. Go figure.
In the words of the SEC report, “The judicial branch is charged with the responsibility to use taxpayer funds prudently.” That means supporting the trial courts that do the people’s business—not catering to the whims of high-ranking bureaucrats who refuse to move 90 minutes east for the sake of the branch.
Directors, Alliance of California Judges
From: Hoshino, Martin [mailto:Martin.Hoshino@jud.ca.gov]
Sent: Friday, November 06, 2015 1:02 PM
To: JCC PJs - All Trial Courts; JCC Court Execs - ALL Trial Courts
Subject: Judicial Council Office Locations - Cost-Benefit Analysis
Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers:
Please see the below email which was sent to all employees today regarding the cost-benefit analysis on Judicial Council office locations and related decisions.
Email to staff:
Judicial Council Employees:
As you know, for the past several months an independent consultant worked with a team from our Human Resources and Facilities Management offices to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on maintaining Judicial Council offices in multiple locations. The analysis was undertaken in order to respond to recommendations from the California State Auditor.
I understand the enormous anxiety that surrounded this study. Given the potential impact on our employees' lives as well as on our organization, we required a comprehensive and rigorous analysis. Multiple scenarios were developed to provide both the quantitative and qualitative information needed to inform the final decisions that I'm sharing with you today.
Summary of Decisions
* The Judicial Council will retain its existing offices in San Francisco and Sacramento.
* Burbank operations will be relocated to San Francisco or Sacramento and the Burbank office will close by June 30, 2017. All affected employees in the Burbank office are being offered the option to relocate with their main office location in San Francisco or Sacramento.
* Real Estate and Facilities Management's field offices will close as the leases expire, with the intent of relocating all of the field office and Burbank real estate staff to courthouse hubs where possible.
* Governmental Affairs will be relocated to the Gateway Oaks Sacramento office by August 31, 2017.
None of these decisions were made lightly. The cost-benefit analysis is based on a 10-year horizon to account for lease expirations, changes and the payoff of a lease revenue bond in the year 2021. We looked at comprehensive data and considered impacts on our workforce, budget, real estate, working relationships, continuity of business, productivity, and the long-term effectiveness and efficiency of our staff operations in meeting our customer needs and public service obligations.
All aspects of the analysis were carefully weighed and factored into decisions on how best to position the organization for the future. The information below outlines some of the considerations that were part of the decision-making process.
Consolidation in San Francisco and Sacramento
The retention of the San Francisco and Sacramento locations and the consolidation of staff from other offices to where the majority of our workforce and operations are located preserves critical institutional knowledge and maintains service continuity for our customers and clients statewide. Looking purely at the fiscal data, potential cost-savings of approximately $10-12 million may be realized over the 10-year period from the consolidation and relocation. The San Francisco location will see the most significant rent savings when the current lease revenue bond is fully paid off in 2021.
Chief of Staff Jody Patel, Chief Administrative Officer Curt Soderlund, Human Resources Director Michael Guevara, and I met with staff in Burbank earlier today to share the decision to close that office and transfer positions and operations. In providing context to staff, Jody spoke from her perspective as a former regional administrative director about the gradual shift from the regional court service delivery model originally envisioned when the Burbank and Sacramento offices were established in 2001-2002. This shift resulted in the elimination of the regional administrative director position almost four years ago and a downsizing of staff and office space in Burbank. Within this context, maintaining and paying for office space in Burbank without a regional court service delivery model is no longer viable for either the Judicial Council or the courts we support
I know from personal experience working with some of the Burbank staff during the past year, as well as from hearing from their respective office leaders, that they are dedicated and valued employees who serve our branch well. All affected Burbank employees have been offered the option to transfer to their main office location in the San Francisco or Sacramento office. I realize, however, that for some, Northern California may not be an option, and we will offer support and resources to every individual impacted by this decision. I have charged the Human Resources office with the task of working with the Burbank staff to assist and facilitate with the various aspects of this type of transition.
Real Estate and Facilities Management
Real Estate and Facilities Management has a combination of staff managing local court facilities out of the Burbank office as well as just over half a dozen small field offices. Other staff work directly out of court facilities with no overhead costs. Field office staff, court based staff and Burbank based staff were asked to participate in today's meeting in Burbank. Our intent is to relocate all of the field office and Burbank real estate staff to courthouse hubs where possible. As well as rent savings, this consolidation will facilitate shared facilities management oversight and direct delivery of services to the courts.
The relocation of Governmental Affairs to the Gateway Oaks Sacramento office location by August 2017 was discussed with Governmental Affairs staff this morning. The planned consolidation will enhance day-to-day working relationships with other areas of the office, in addition to achieving real estate savings. A smaller hoteling space may be secured for use during peak legislative periods to afford proximity to the Capitol building for Judicial Council staff advocates.
I know how difficult these pending changes are for those employees whose jobs and lives are most directly affected. I also know that many of you will be concerned for your colleagues. As a next step, Human Resources will be working directly with the individual employees impacted by these decisions. In addition, real estate transition plans will be developed. The extended timeframes for implementing the changes will, I hope, facilitate successful transitions for employees within the Judicial Council or to new positions that are personally and professionally rewarding. The Executive Office, HR, and office leaders will provide assistance through the process.
The final cost-benefit analysis report has not yet been posted pending communication of final decisions to everyone in the organization and notification of other key stakeholders. I anticipate that it will be made available as a public document within the next 10 days.
Martin Hoshino, Administrative Director
Judicial Council of California
455 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102-3688
415-865-4235 | 916-643-7025 | Martin.Hoshino@jud.ca.gov | www.courts.ca.gov