Canan Tasci, Staff Writer
Created: 07/16/2012 06:13:43 PM PDT

CHINO – The area around the City Hall may become very quiet on most weekdays now that the San Bernardino Superior Court has ordered the closure of the Chino Courthouse on Jan. 1.

The facility at 13260 Central Ave. will be shut down to help close the county court system’s $13.5 million shortfall.

Since Friday’s announcement, city officials, local businesses and experts have quickly seen the tough consequences of the Chino courthouse shutting down in the near future, though Mayor Dennis Yates also sees it as a possible opportunity.

Yates noted that a portion of the Police Department will move out of the courthouse building in the fall, leaving it completely empty as of Jan. 1.

“With the courthouse being closed and obviously the police station will be too, that may afford us some opportunities to take a look at maybe relocating the library to either the police department or if we can make a deal with the county, but I don’t know what the plans are for the courthouse are,” Yates said.

He said he doesn’t know whether the court system has plans to lease the courthouse or rent it.

“And maybe they don’t want to do anything with it and they’re hoping the economy improves and they’ll fill it up later, but time will tell,” he said.

Meanwhile though, the prevailing opinion about the court closure is it will inconvenience residents and perhaps harm businesses in the vicinity of the court.

“For the people who live there it’s inconvenient because now I imagine they will have to go to Rancho Cucamonga (courthouse) and for attorneys who are located around there, over time they may drift up to Rancho Cucamonga to be closer to the courthouse,” said John Husing, Inland Empire economist.

“Clearly what it is, is one of the side effects of the budget mess that has been created largely out of Sacramento.”

Effective Jan. 1, cases being heard in the Chino courthouse will most likely be transferred to Rancho Cucamonga or Fontana, and it is estimated the closure will result in the reduction of at least 15 positions countywide, according to a court news release.

A part-time worker at the liquor store on C Street and Central Avenue said Monday that any time a business closes down it’s not good news.

“We don’t get too much business from the courts, but we do get people asking to make money orders for the court fees. It’s not much, but it’s something,” said Lisa Chung.

Montclair resident Leonardo Aguirre said he’s used Chino courthouse once or twice and found the visit easy and assessable.

“Now I’m going to have to go to Rancho Cucamonga like everyone else and it’s going to be a long wait and more people,” said Aguirre. He used the courthouse on Monday to get an extension and reduction on a traffic ticket.

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