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Ocean Beach Pier to partially reopen after repairs, possibly this summer

City engineers say a portion of the Ocean Beach Pier, pictured last June, can safely reopen soon.
City engineers say a portion of the Ocean Beach Pier, pictured last June, can safely reopen soon after railings and other parts are fixed.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego plans to reopen the Ocean Beach Pier after repairs to damage earlier this year are completed, the city said May 5.

City engineers say a portion of the pier can safely reopen after railings and other parts are fixed.

“I am grateful that a large portion of the Ocean Beach Pier can be safely reopened for the enjoyment of residents and visitors,” said City Council President Jennifer Campbell, whose District 2 includes Ocean Beach. “Much more work will need to be done to address the damage to other parts of the pier and find a long-term solution moving forward.”

The 55-year-old pier, which has been closed since January after it was damaged by high surf, has had a ticking clock since an inspection in 2019 found that it had “reached the end of its service life.”

The 55-year-old pier has significant deterioration that could cost the city of San Diego millions to rehabilitate, according to the newly released report.

A specific timeline for the reopening cannot be guaranteed, but engineers believe it could be by summer, Campbell said.

When it reopens, the following restrictions will be implemented:

• The part of the pier beyond the cafe but before the expansion joint will remain closed for safety reasons.

• No vehicle traffic will be allowed on the pier, except emergency vehicles and only when necessary.

• The pier will be closed during very high tides.

The 2019 inspection found cracked pilings and erosion along the pier’s 1,971-foot length, particularly at the junction where the downward-sloping pier from the land meets the slightly upward-sloping pier heading out above the water.

The 364-page report written by Moffatt & Nichol, at taxpayer expense of close to $700,000, found three options going forward:

• Repair existing damage, amounting to $8 million. This would be the cheapest option but would not address the pier’s deterioration, according to the report.

• Rehabilitate the pier at a cost of $30 million to $50 million, which would increase its service life but would not address “sea-level-rise vulnerability,” the report said.

• Tear down the pier and build a new one. This could bring service life of 75 years or more but would cost $40 million to $60 million, according to the report.

Railings on the south side of the Ocean Beach Pier were damaged by high surf Jan. 11.
(San Diego Fire-Rescue Department)

Campbell’s office is working with Mayor Todd Gloria’s team, the city engineering department and local leaders and community groups to make sure future proposals are aligned with the community’s interests. Those details are still to be developed, and meetings with community groups are being planned.

“The OB Pier is a beloved local landmark that we want to maintain and keep safe for future generations of San Diegans and visitors to enjoy,” Gloria said.

Future construction on the pier likely will include modern materials at higher elevations to withstand potential sea-level rise and the effects of climate change.

“The Ocean Beach Pier is a treasure to our community and has served the city for over 50 years and I am determined to look at all options with members of this community to plot out what the next 50 years will look like,” Campbell said.

The city repaired the pier from winter storm damage and reopened it last June, only to close it in January after it was damaged again.

— Point Loma-OB Monthly staff contributed to this report.


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