Physicians for Social Responsibility
Sacramento Chapter
Dear Friends,
It has recently come to our attention that State Assemblyman Ken Cooley, who currently represents California’s 8th Assembly District, is leading a project to completely demolish the annex portion of the State Capitol (the rectangular office building portion housing state legislators' offices that that sits behind the old classic Capitol building and cupola) and to rebuild an entirely new, larger, and more luxurious annex at an estimated cost of $1.4 billion. The plan is for the new annex to be built largely of glass and steel, earning the demolition and reconstruction project the nickname, “The Crystal Palace Project.”
Plans for this project have been proceeding rapidly in recent months, largely under the public’s radar. A group opposing the project, Save Our Capitol, commissioned a survey of likely voters in December of 2021 and found that when informed of the project, 75% opposed it (including both Democrats and Republicans). Although lawsuits have been filed in efforts to halt the project, there are plans to begin uprooting trees to clear space for the new annex next month.
The Sacramento Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility opposes the “Crystal Palace Project.” Some of the reasons for our opposition, many of which are obvious, are appended below.
Whether or not Assemblyman Cooley is your own California State Assembly member, please call him today and let him know that you oppose the demolition of existing Capitol Annex and the building of a new “Crystal Palace” at a cost of at least $1.4 billion without the express consent of the majority of California voters. (An approve/disapprove measure could be added by the legislature to the June primary ballot.) Assembly member Cooley’s Capitol office number is (916) 319-2008, and his local office number is (916) 464-1910. If Assemblyman Cooley isn’t your own California State Assembly member, please also call your own Assemblyman/Assemblywoman, and please also call your State Senator to express your opposition to the “Crystal Palace Project.” You can find the names and phone numbers of your representatives in the State Legislature by clicking on this link and entering your address.
Thanks for your support and activism in opposing this fiscally irresponsible, environmentally harmful, and socially and morally unconscionable project.
Yours truly,

Bill Durston, MD
Vice-President, PSR/Sacramento    


Here are some of the reasons for our opposition to the Crystal Palace Project
1. Environmental concerns
The “Crystal Palace Project” directly contradicts principles of environmental protection. At a time when the general public is being urged to conserve and re-use, lawmakers are planning to spend $1.4 billion to build themselves larger and more luxurious offices. While we are being told of the value of trees in preventing global warming, the organization Trees Sacramento estimates that the Crystal Palace Project will threaten 193 (27%) of the trees in the Capitol Park, some of which are over 100 years old and represent unique species. And at a time at which when we’re also being encouraged to use public transportation instead of driving our own cars, lawmakers are including as part of the Crystal Palace Project the construction of more underground parking spaces for themselves and their staff to park their private autos. (There’s a light rail station within a block of the current Annex. I know because I’ve ridden light rail to the Capitol on innumerable occasions over the past several decades.) And finally, the all glass exterior of the planned new annex will increase heating and air conditioning costs.
2. Social/moral concerns
At a time when homelessness is rampant in Sacramento and in many other parts of the state, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, it is unconscionable for lawmakers to appropriate $1.4 billion to build themselves more luxurious office spaces.
3. Practical matters
Many, if not most, legislative staff are working remotely from their homes, and there is an abundance of unoccupied office space in buildings immediately surrounding the Capitol. Under these circumstances, it makes no sense whatsoever to build a new, larger annex. Even if the existing Annex building were to return to full occupancy, it is quite functional as it is. (I know from personal experience. I’ve walked the halls of the Annex and have talked with legislator and members of their staff in most of the offices in the Annex over the past few decades. The problems with the function of our state government are not due to physical problems with the annex building.)
4. Cost-effectiveness
Projects of this nature almost always end up going over budget. If the Crystal Palace Project goes to completion, it will almost certainly end of costing well more than $1.4 billion. The existing annex needs some upgrades, including plumbing repairs, installation of ceiling sprinklers for fire safety, and improved access for people with disabilities, but the present annex could be completely upgraded at less than half the cost of demolishing it and building a new one.
5. Historical concerns
The Capitol Annex, built in 1953, has real historical value. It has been the site of important legislative and political action for more than half a century. Native Americans object to the construction of a new, larger annex as it will almost certainly be built over portions of the Capitol Park that cover ancient burial grounds.
6. Aesthetic concerns
Everyone has his or her own opinion of what is or is not aesthetically pleasing. In my opinion, the existing Capitol Annex, while not built in the same classical style as the original dome portion, melds well with the appearance of the original building and is aesthetically pleasing, particularly as it is surrounded by magnificent trees. I’m including pictures of the existing Capitol Annex and an artist’s conception of the plans for the new one. An acronym that pops into my head for the planned new annex building is UGLI (Unlimited Glass but Little Inspiration). The four palm trees shown in the artist’s conception are a poor substitute for the tree canopy that currently exists. I wouldn’t want to be one of the people shown in the artist’s conception walking on the unshaded concrete if I were going to meet with legislators on a 100+ day in the summer.
Here's a view of the existing annex as viewed from the East.
And here's an aerial view of the entire Capitol complex, with the original portion in front and the annex behind, as viewed from the West.
Here's an artist's conception of the junction between the old Capitol building and the new Annex, as viewed from the South.
And here's an artist's conception of what you'd see if you're entering the new annex from the East. 
The term, "Glassy-eyed" comes to mind.
6. Transparency issues
Safety concerns have been raised concerning the transparent, all glass exterior of the planned new annex building. Giving the events of January 6, 2021, the glass used for the exterior better be strong enough to resist bullets and battering rams. On the other hand, there has been little transparency in the process of planning and moving forward with the demolition of the existing annex and the construction of the new one. The voting public has been kept largely in the dark about the Crystal Palace Project. As noted above, when voters learn of the project, the vast majority of them oppose it. 
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Sacramento
10 Dumfries Court, Sacramento, CA 95831