Old Courthouse Square Archives

Master Plan

Master Plan for the Reunified Courthouse Square

The Master Plan is based on basic design guidelines provided by the Council, feedback from a highly engaged community survey, input from two well attended community meetings, and other comments provided to the City. 

The Reunified Courthouse Square will feature:

• a well-lit space
• sustainable landscaping
• an open and flexible design
• bicycle parking
• public WiFi
• ability to close off side streets for events
• public art
• a family-friendly environment
• accessible parking
• preservation of historical elements

Master Plan Diagram button

An Outdoor Living Space in the Heart of Santa Rosa

Construction of the Reunification of Courthouse Square commenced on Monday, May 23, 2016. This important community project will create a central gathering place where residents and visitors can enjoy a wide variety of community events such as farmers' markets, concerts and outdoor art exhibits. The original side streets will be reinstalled featuring wide sidewalks suitable for outdoor dining.

A well designed Square will encourage Santa Rosans to dine and recreate locally, rather than drive to neighboring cities such as Healdsburg, Sonoma or Windsor to enjoy a plaza type setting. By eliminating the section of Mendocino Avenue that currently bisects the Square, the project will also discourage people from driving through Downtown and create a space that people can easily access via walking, biking, transit or car. Additionally, the Reunified Square will be the back yard, front yard, and outdoor patio for families who choose to live Downtown near transit facilities and will allow everyone who comes Downtown to enjoy nature in an urban environment, instead of the busy street that greets them now.

Economic Benefits

By investing in our Downtown, we hope to encourage residents and visitors to shop, dine, and recreate locally. Increased patronage to the Downtown area will help grow our local economy and provide much needed sales tax revenue for community programs throughout Santa Rosa. The entire community will benefit from this healthy boost to the local economy.

Trees in Courthouse Square

All of the trees in Courthouse Square, including those that were recently removed, were planted in the late 60s and 70s. They are not old-growth trees. In fact, the coastal redwood trees in the Square are not native to the Santa Rosa Plain, and are not an ideal tree for an urban park environment. The redwood trees in the Square are skirted by concrete planters that prevented them from extending their roots and truly thriving. Additionally, redwood trees require a great deal of water, as they are best suited to an environment closer to the coast and near a river or creek. The new Square will be replanted with approximately 100 new shade and flowering trees that will provide shade in the summer and dappled sunshine in the winter. An environmental impact report completed in advance of this project contains more information about the redwood trees in the Square.

Parking in the New Square

Reunifying Courthouse Square is about building an urban park and a gathering space in the heart of Santa Rosa. We are not building a parking lot. The project calls for 23 parking spaces, including one accessible space on the West side street, and 22 parking spaces, including one accessible space on the East side street. This small number of parking spaces is intended to provide accessible parking to facilitate access to the Square and the surrounding businesses and restaurants on these streets.

East & West Side Streets

The side streets that are being built as part of the Reunification of the Square are not new streets. In fact, they were streets that surrounded the original Courthouse Square. In the late 60s, when the Square was divided into two sections by Mendocino Avenue, these two side streets were sealed off and removed.

Project Budget & Funding Sources

A Financing Plan will be presented for City Council approval.

Estimated Complete Project Costs

Aspect of Project Fee
Advanced Tree Work $130,000
Construction $6,719,253
Construction Contingency (10%) $671,925
Construction Management and Inspection (10%) $671,925
Design $906,000
Public Art (future) $100,000
Total Cost $9,199,103

Project Funding

Funding Source Funds
Gas Tax Fund $800,000
General Fund $7,443,752
Parking District Fund $465,854
Wastewater Fund $645,707
Water Fund $644,687

Press

In 1854 Old Courthouse Square was donated to the County of Sonoma by J. Carrillo, B. Hoen, J.W. Hartman and T.G. Hahman. That same year after a vigorous selection campaign, the county seat was moved from Sonoma to Santa Rosa. For the next 30 years the seat of the county government was located adjacent to this Square. In 1884 the first Courthouse on this site was dedicated by General Vallejo. The earthquake of 1906 destroyed that building and much of Santa Rosa. The cornerstone for the last courthouse on this square was laid in 1908. Sonoma County gradually outgrew this structure and in 1966 it was demolished. Its granite steps have been used in the construction of this Square.

This area served as the center for the Administration of Justice in Sonoma County for 82 years. To commemorate its long use as the legal center for the County, it has been officially named 'Old Courthouse Square'.

The above dedication is taken from the plaque donated by the Lawyers Wives of Sonoma County in 1967

From 1967-2016, Old Courthouse Square was divided by a road connecting Santa Rosa Avenue and Mendocino Avenue.

In 2017, Old Courthouse Square was reunified and reconstructed to create a civic gathering place in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa. The granite steps were once again saved and used to form the frame around the lawn which is representative of the footprint of the original Courthouse on the Square.

Old Courthouse Square Reunification Press Coverage

2017 

A Square is Born
North Bay Bohemian, Published June 7, 2017

Celebrating Old Courthouse Square Reunification
The Press Democrat, Published April 29, 2017

Old Courthouse Square Officially Re-Unified

Reunified at last, Santa Rosa celebrates its new Old Courthouse Square
The Press Democrat, Published April 29, 2017

Interview: Mayor Coursey on Courthouse Square Reunification Ceremony
KSRO Radio, Aired April, 28, 2017

Santa Rosa celebrates reunified Old Courthouse Square with festival
The Press Democrat, Published April 27, 2017

Santa Rosa’s Reunified Old Courthouse Square Opens Saturday
KRCB North Bay Public Media, Published April 26, 2017

Santa Rosa downtown businesses' hope renewed by reunified Old Courthouse Square
The Press Democrat, Published April 24, 2017

Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square, then and now
The Press Democrat, Published April 22, 2017

Old Courthouse Square project takes shape in Santa Rosa
The Press Democrat, Published February 27, 2017

2016
Courthouse Square Reunification Update
Santa Rosa MetroChamber, Published September 14, 2016

Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square reunification delayed
North Bay Business Journal, Published September 12, 2016

Santa Rosa starts Old Courthouse Square reunification work this week
The Press Democrat, Published May 22, 2016

Courthouse Square Reunified – More than the Sum of Two Halves
Pen-For-Rent, Published April 10, 2016

Reunification of Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square
Sonoma County Gazette, Published April 6, 2016

Courthouse Square reunification replaces trees
SantaRosan, Published March 31, 2016

Santa Rosa approves final unified Courthouse Square design
North Bay Business Journal, Published January 28, 2016

2015
Old Courthouse Square – Finally Reunification?
KSRO Radio, Aired November 14, 2015

Gaye LaBaron: Old Courthouse Square has divided Santa Rosa for 160 years
The Press Democrat, Published July 18, 2015

2014
Courthouse Square reunification decision Tuesday
The Press Democrat, Published July 13, 2014

Santa Rosa to delay Courthouse Square project
The Press Democrat, Published February 15, 2014

Courthouse Square Tree Removal Questioned
KRCB North Bay Public Media, Aired February 2014

 

City Council Meetings/Community Meetings/Project Documents

City Council Meeting - September 13, 2016


City Council Agenda
Staff Report
Attachment 1
Attachment 2
Attachment 3
Resolution 1
Resolution 2
Presentation

City Council Meeting - August 30, 2016


City Council Agenda
Staff Report
Presentation

City Council Meeting - August 16, 2016


City Council Agenda
Staff Report
Presentation
Attachment
Resolution

City Council Meeting - July 12, 2016


City Council Agenda
Staff Report
Presentation
Updated Presentation
Attachment 1
Attachment 2
Resolution
Exhibit A

City Council Meeting - June 21, 2016


City Council Agenda

City Council Meeting - April 19, 2016


City Council Agenda
Staff Report
Presentation
Attachment 1
Attachment 2
Attachment 3
Resolution
Exhibit A

City Council Meeting - January 26, 2016


City Council Agenda
Meeting Information Sheet
Staff Report
Presentation
Exhibit A - Option 1
Exhibit A - Option 2
Exhibit B
Resolution
Attachment 1
Attachment 2
Attachment 3
Attachment 4

2nd Community Meeting  - January 9, 2016


Presentation - Second Community Meeting (PDF)
Public Comments - Typed Notes (PDF)
Public Comments - on Sheets (PDF)
Public Comments - Sticky Notes (PDF)
Public Comments - Full Compiled Set (PDF)
Second Community Meeting Announcement (PDF)

1st Community Meeting - December 12, 2015


Presentation - First Community Meeting (PDF)
Public Comments - on Notes (PDF)
Public Comments - on Sheets (PDF)
Public Comments - Drawing 1 (PDF)
Public Comments - Drawing 2 (PDF)
First Community Meeting Announcement (PDF)

Additional Public Comments


November 9 through December 31, 2015
Snapshot of Online Survey Results (PDF)
Results of Online Survey Completed in English (PDF)
Results of Online Survey Completed in Spanish (PDF)

December 10, 2015 
Public Comments From the Committee to Reunify Courthouse Square (PDF)

December 16, 2015 

Public Comments From the American Institute of Architects (PDF)


Project Documents


Design Engineering Services
Request for Proposals - October 2015 (PDF)

November 3, 2015 
Initial Design Elements Proposed by City Council (PDF)

Adopted February 2014
Environmental Impact Report (PDF)