A new overflow parking lot for jurors in downtown Sacramento could spell relief for those called for jury duty and free up more pay-to-park spaces for county employees and customers.
Few jurors so far have had to rely on the 150-space overflow Lot 297 which opened Aug. 1 at 7th Street between F and G streets – it’s August, after all, when trial calendars are mostly quiet and jury pools slow to a trickle. Ashneel Pal drove in from Natomas last week for jury service and had no problem finding a parking spot, he said, but added that overflow lots would be “helpful.”
Jurors now can park in Lot 297 for free with a court-issued parking permit 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Thursday, when the county-owned, 351-space St. Joseph’s Jury Lot at 8th and G streets is full.
Jurors who park in the overflow lot when spaces are available at the St. Joseph’s lot must pay a fee. A parking attendant monitors spaces at the St. Joseph’s lot, posts a sign letting jurors know when the lot is full and directs motorists to the overflow lot.
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Sacramento County is renting the city-managed overflow lot for $17,700 a month to provide the spillover spaces for the court, county officials said. Details of the agreement, which is on a month-to-month basis, are being worked out.
Debbie Moynier, facilities director of downtown Sacramento’s Gordon Schaber Courthouse, called the new lot a “positive change.” She said courthouse staffers are looking ahead to the busier autumn months and beyond when the trial calendar fills up and more people are called upon to fill juror panels, leaving many to scramble for parking.
About 400 first-day jurors regularly report to the courthouse.
Jury overflow parking has been a concern for years, Moynier said, an at-times tense tug-of-war between county and court. The debate over free overflow parking for jurors even led to a lawsuit in 2003 when the county stopped picking up the tab for the extra spaces after responsibility for the administration of trial court facilities moved from counties to the state.
A three-member state appellate court panel ultimately sided with Sacramento Superior Court ordering the county to continue to provide free overflow juror parking.
With the newly opened Lot 297, the county says it is satisfying its obligation to provide free parking for jurors while opening up spaces to generate revenue and provide parking for county employees and the county’s downtown customers.
The new lot provides dozens of spaces – and potential revenue – for the county at its two-story public parking garage also on G Street and bordered by 7th, 8th and H streets.
The county anticipates selling another 50 to 75 monthly permits at that garage at $130 each by September – raising anywhere from $6,500 to $9,750 monthly – with another 75 hourly spaces freed for people heading to the Sacramento County Administration Building or doing business at the courthouse, said Kim Nava, a Sacramento County spokeswoman.
“Prior to the spaces being secured from the city, we were required to reserve those spaces from our public garage for peak jury duty,” Nava said via email.
Now, with the new lot, Nava said, the county “will have more opportunity to sell monthly permits to employees” and will have more “parking availability for customers doing business with the county and the courts.”