As a member of the Joint Rules Committee, we have been tasked with directing an upgrade or replacement for the rapidly deteriorating State Capitol building annex. The building was designed in the late 1940s and was completed in 1952 at a cost of $7.5 million. Originally intended to house a part-time legislature, the annex is home to the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor and 115 of California’s 120 lawmakers, along with 1,400 executive branch and legislative staff.
California’s main Capitol building, completed in 1874, is a historic treasure. However, after World War II, it became obvious that the old building wasn’t large enough to handle the needs of a growing state. The annex, at approximately 365,000 square feet, solved that problem for decades.
Safety issues are a primary concern. Last year, the annex was visited by 1.5 to 2 million people, including tens of thousands of school children. The annex contains hazardous building materials such as asbestos and lacks adequate fire protection. It has electrical wiring and ductwork issues, along with deteriorating galvanized sewer and drainage lines. Today, the building is overcrowded and fails to meet Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility standards. The annex was built long before computers, photocopiers and cell phones, with rows of empty wooden phone booths still dominating some of the hallways. Many of the building’s “key systems are in the 65th year of their expected 50 year useful life.”
The old Capitol building was extensively upgraded in the 1970s and 1980s, but these upgrades did not include the annex. Modernizing technology, enhancing visitor access and upgrading safety compliance will bring “the people’s house” into the 21st century.
Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R-Escondido, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the communities of Bonsall, Escondido, Fallbrook, Hidden Meadows, Pala, Palomar Mountain, Pauma Valley, Rainbow, San Marcos, Temecula, Valley Center and Vista.