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Presiding Judge Donna Hitchens wants to move the San Francisco Superior Court’s traffic division from the Hall of Justice on Bryant Street to the court’s auxiliary facility on Polk Street. Court officials hope the move will help boost the quality of the traffic court facilities and make them more accessible to the public — plus open up two courtrooms at the Hall of Justice for the criminal division. But before traffic commissioners and clerks start packing their boxes, the court needs permission to use up to $1.27 million from a courthouse construction fund to pay for the project, said Gordon Park-Li, the court’s chief executive officer. The court has to get the go-ahead from the Board of Supervisors and William Vickrey, the state’s administrative director of the courts. Park-Li estimates it will cost $600,000 to reconfigure the court’s three courtrooms at 575 Polk St. to accommodate two commissioners’ courtrooms and a clerk’s office. And it would cost another $670,000 or so to convert two traffic courtrooms at 850 Bryant St. into a preliminary hearing courtroom and a small hearing courtroom, he said. Moving traffic division staff out of the Hall of Justice would also give the criminal division staff more breathing room, Hitchens noted. Since the court consolidated three clerk and records offices at the Hall of Justice in Room 101 earlier this year, “101 is not the most comfortable place to be working,” Hitchens said. Paul Slavit, a traffic commissioner, Judge Nancy Davis, a former traffic commissioner, and Jerry Washington, chief of the court’s traffic division, came up with the plan to relocate, Hitchens said. A desire for higher-quality, more accessible traffic court facilities drove them, Slavit said. Defendants headed to traffic court on Polk Street will be able to take Muni or BART to two nearby stops, hop on a bus, or drive and park in the Civic Center underground garage, Slavit pointed out. “There’s just a lot more options.” And the court facilities on Polk Street are more up-to-date than the “bare-bones” traffic courtrooms at the Hall of Justice, he said. The additional space for the 20-courtroom criminal division was another plus, Slavit added. “The criminal courts here are facility-challenged.” The leased Polk Street space currently houses three auxiliary courtrooms, one of which is used for visiting judges. Juvenile traffic court has taken refuge in its second courtroom to escape the disruption of renovation work at the Youth Guidance Center, but will return to the YGC, Hitchens said. The PJ plans to move Judge Wallace Douglass, who uses the third courtroom, to the civil courthouse on McAllister Street, she said. The court has already secured funding to convert the former municipal court clerk’s office at the Hall of Justice to a trial court with a jury box, Park-Li said. “Our hope is that we can get [that project] done by mid-year.”

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