BURBANK : New Parking Garage Opens at Courthouse

A $3.2-million parking garage was opened by Burbank city officials Wednesday, fulfilling an arrangement with Los Angeles County by which the county is expanding the courthouse facilities.

"We've been looking forward to this for a long time," Burbank Municipal Judge Marion E. Gubler said. After the ceremony, also attended by county Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Burbank Mayor Bill Wiggins, Gubler drove past the black metal security fencing provided for judges and into his parking space for the first time.

The parking garage has five stories and 491 parking spaces, and while it is intended for use by court employees, judges and jurors, city officials said that it will also help alleviate a parking crunch for visitors to the city center of Burbank.

Completed in 11 months and only three weeks behind schedule--because of winter rains and about $30,000 in damage from the Northridge earthquake--the garage project goes hand-in-hand with a multimillion-dollar construction project by the county to expand the court building by 36,000 square feet and add security so the court can be used for felony trials.

Work on the courthouse expansion is expected to be finished in September.

Gubler said that working in the courthouse is difficult because prisoners have to be housed so close to judges' chambers that it is sometimes difficult to talk over their yelling and occasional singing.

When the expansion is completed, Burbank judges will no longer have to send their felony cases to other jurisdictions for trial. Video arraignments will also be used in the expanded courthouse.

Burbank Deputy City Manager Richard R. Inga said that the parking garage is already earthquake-tested.

"It helps," said Bob Michitsch, senior vice president for International Parking Design in Sherman Oaks, who said that all five levels of the garage had already been constructed when the Jan. 17 earthquake hit.

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