The AOC’s gift to Markleeville – $130,000.00 per resident

Posted on June 6, 2011


At 200 feet tall, it is home to America’s second tallest flagpole.  The city population is 866 people. The courthouse is located at 324 north pine street. It is a freshly remodeled doublewide mobile office-type courthouse building that is shared with the Sheriff’s department. It’s high up in snow country. They recently closed another court office 42 miles away, open only one day a week and consolidated operations here. The courthouse, freshly remodeled with all of its contents costs a couple hundred grand.

(The tallest flagpole in North America is currently 308 feet and located in Laredo, Texas)

Welcome to Dorris, California – just a rocks toss from the Oregon border in Siskiyou county. Last year, the AOC completed remodeling the courthouse portion of this doublewide that has served this immediate community of 866 well and serves all of eastern Siskiyou county. Given the remoteness of this territory, this courthouse is anticipated to serve about a quarter of the population of Siskiyou county (population 44,000) for the forseeable future.


Alpine County is home to a little over a thousand residents. Most of those residents are crowded in the western half of the county around Alpine lake and Bear Valley. The lesser half of the residents of Alpine county live in the town or area surrounding Markleeville, California – Population 200. Alpine County is remote. Most of the land in Alpine County belongs to the federal government and the liklihood of needing large court facilities or planning for future growth is unnecessary. The main highway that connects the two halves of the county is closed six months out of the year due to snow.

The AOC intends to spend $130,000.00 per Markleeville resident to build an elaborate one courtroom courthouse with holding cells designed to serve the purpose of the local jail as well. After all, the court never knows when in-custodys may be snowed in and need to be held for a week or more – but let’s plan this anyways. This new courthouse will have a new jury deliberation room for their new trials that only happen about once per year. It will have all the bells and whistles of any modern courthouse and at 26 million dollars, its primary function will be processing traffic tickets (over 90% of their business)

It will never, ever pay for itself. Dorris however, demonstrates prudent use of scarce public funds. So what gives? What makes Markleeville deserving of a 26 million dollar courthouse and Dorris deserving of a couple hundred thousand dollar doublewide?

Inquiring minds want to know….


More from / The Recorder’s Cheryl Miller with a video – Courthouse construction estimates break new ground


A question about the AOC’s funny math: In this link provided by Cheryl Miller in her article, we can see the AOC’s estimates:

Courtrooms: 3
Square footage: 38,283
Estimated total cost: $51,767,000
Estimated construction cost per square foot: $644
Current status: Site selection and acquisition
Expected completion: 1 Q 2015

Let’s do the math the same way the federal government does the math.

Question from a Senator to the head of GSA: How much will that courthouse cost per square foot = Estimated total costs / Square footage = costs per square foot = $1,352.00 per square foot.

We have no idea what the AOC is doing, unless they’re telling us something like the land underneath the courthouse is being bought from someone’s good friend for about $27 million dollars. Given that there is a wholesale exemption to public contract code for acquisition of land it wouldn’t be against the law to purchase it from someone with juice and overpay for it.