The Santa Barbara County, Calif. Courthouse stands today as a unique monument of architectural brilliance in California, and it is the prize jewel of the city and county whose people it serves and whose visitors it delights.
For almost 160 years the courthouse has been the home of local government and a place of civic pride and celebration. Visitors from around the world come to see the courthouse, the mural room and the grounds. Hundreds get married in the Mural Room or in the Garden every year. It is considered a national historic landmark.
Security, Phase OneSurprisingly, the courthouse has not had any type of security cameras or surveillance solutions, beyond the Sherriff deputies and police officers who patrol the courtrooms and the exterior of the building.
“It literally was an open building,” says Darrel E. Parker, assistant trial courts executive officer. “But the amount of work that it took to get everyone on board with this project was the bigger surprise.”
In 2005/2006, the California state Governor’s budget authorized money for equipment and personnel to secure nine unsecure courthouses in the state. But there was no plan in place for how the money would be used, he says.
“There are a lot of stakeholders in the building, including those who want to preserve this ‘crown jewel of courthouses,’ as it’s a major tourist attraction in Santa Barbara,” he says. One such group, the Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation, works to preserve the historic nature of the building. Other groups concerned about the integrity of the building include the local bar association and the Sherriff’s department.