Bishop Courthouse Location Sparks Controversy

Bishop could be receiving a new courthouse, which would give the Inyo County Superior Court, two locations. However, the move to add another courthouse has not come without opposition.


The State of California says there is a big need for a new location in North Inyo County, which has a higher population than the southern portion of the county. “The Superior Court of Inyo County provides court services from two locations. In Bishop, the court operates out of the former Municipal Court, located inside City Hall, which is leased from the City of Bishop. Sixty percent of the population lives in this northern part of the county; seventy-five percent of court filings originate from this area.”

With the high number of legal filings occurring in the Bishop Area, the members of the California Judicial Council think it would be wise to build another location to handle proceedings. “Due to space and personnel constraints, the clerk’s office has a limited capacity to handle these filings. Consequently, the majority of criminal, civil, family, probate, and juvenile cases must be filed at the historic courthouse in Independence, 40 miles south.”


The new municipal center would have two courtrooms and would measure 21,015 square feet.


Bishop’s potential courthouse currently has an authorized project budget equating to $24,204,000. At this time, however, the idea of a new location has been put on hold due to a lack of funding.


With that being said, the state’s plan is for construction to be completed by 2022.


Pertaining to the new courthouse, California’s Judicial Council is in the site acquisition phase. However, it appears as though the council likes the idea of having the courthouse adjacent to City Hall because it will allow for all governmental functions to be situated at the epicenter of town.


One problem is that a parking lot currently exists at the potential site, which allows for patrons to shop at nearby stores in an area that has limited parking to begin with.


Bishop resident, Chuck Kilpatrick along with Justin Snyder, the Manager of The Toggery, expressed their displeasure with the idea of a courthouse being situated next to City Hall at Monday’s Bishop City Council Meeting. Both cited that there would be a lack of parking, which would end up hurting local business because customers would have nowhere to park.

Snyder said, “We are hopeful the city will balance the interest of downtown local business with government buildings. My opinion is that I think it will end up hurting businesses like The Toggery. We rely on tourism and holidays for our business, and if tourists have no place to park, then we lose business.”

Bishop Mayor, Laura Smith, said she believes that a new courthouse would not be detrimental to businesses. “There will be more people in the area if a courthouse is built, which will increase economic activity because people will eat and shop nearby.”

Smith unequivocally added that they will not subtract any of the parking spaces. “I am fully convinced we would not lose any of the parking spaces, and would be able to utilize some of the existing space currently not being used for parking.”