The Santa Monica Courthouse officially opened a long-awaited annex Friday, April 1st. The courthouse is at 1725 Main St., Santa Monica.

The annex cost $4.4 million and was designed by Viniegra & Viniegra Architecture, a Tarzana-based company.

The Santa Monica Courthouse is part of the Los Angeles County Superior Court System. The annex replaces three aging trailers that were used by the courthouse for almost 25 years.

Those trailers were originally intended to be temporary facilities but ended up being permanent until the county found funds to build a permanent annex.

“This is a long time coming,” said Linda Lefkowitz, supervising judge for the Superior Court West District. “I remember that I was here as a lawyer in 1990 trying a case in one of the trailers.

“Every time the air conditioner went on, we had to stop talking because of the noise and because the whole building would shake,” she said.

Lefkowitz also said a “unique animal population” lived under and sometimes inside the trailers.

Construction on the courthouse annex began in 2003 and was overseen by retired judge Alan Haber of the Santa Monica Courthouse.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky is credited with helping the Superior Court System get construction funding for the annex. He also provided additional discretionary funding from an account allocated for capital improvement projects in the county’s Third Supervisorial District, which he repre- sents.

“This area is very diverse and there are many legal requirements and challenges to face here,” Yaroslavsky said. “The community deserves a state-of-the-art facility.”

“This is not a state-of-the-art courtroom complex, but it is hopefully sufficient for the judges, staff and members of the public who come here,” he said.

Lefkowitz, Haber and William MacLaughlin — presiding judge of the Superior Court System — honored Yaroslavsky at the annex ribbon-cutting ceremony for his efforts.

The two-story annex has 13,736 square feet of space and is located at the back of the courthouse.

The annex has three new trial courtrooms, a multipurpose room, a jury assembly room, a jury room, a self-help center and childcare facilities.

Jury areas feature a variety of amenities such as a snack room, fax and copy machines, outlets for free Internet use, a television set and DVDs, couches and ocean views.

The self-help center is an area where law students assist people who choose to represent themselves instead of hiring an attorney.

The annex also has offices for courthouse staff and it meets the requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

“This building is embracing and inviting to the public,” Yaroslavsky said. “The jury rooms and the childcare facilities make all the difference.”

With the opening of the annex, the Superior Court System consolidated some of its court operations by closing the Culver City Courthouse and transferring those services to the Santa Monica Courthouse.

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