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San Diego beginning emergency repairs on Ocean Beach Pier

Waves crash over the Ocean Beach Pier on Jan. 11, causing damage to the pier.
(Jim Grant)

The work is expected to take about four months, after which the pier would fully reopen for the first time in more than a year.

The city of San Diego will soon begin emergency repairs on a section of the Ocean Beach Pier to fix damage caused by stormy conditions in January, according to a city statement Dec. 20.

Repairs are expected to take about four months, depending on weather and tidal conditions. Once the repairs are complete, the pier will fully reopen for the first time in more than a year, the city said.

After the 55-year-old pier was damaged by high surf in January, city crews repaired broken railings at a cost of $250,000, and the pier was partially reopened May 28. The pier’s west end has remained closed to the public after significant damage to two columns, also known as piles, that vertically support the structure.

A San Diego city worker makes repairs on the Ocean Beach Pier in May.
A San Diego city worker makes repairs on the Ocean Beach Pier in May in preparation for its partial reopening after railings were damaged by big waves in January.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The pier has had a ticking clock since an inspection in 2019 determined that it had “reached the end of its service life” because of damage and deterioration. The emergency repairs are intended as a temporary fix.

“We look forward to completing these emergency repairs so San Diegans can once again enjoy everything this iconic landmark has to offer,” Mayor Todd Gloria said. “We are also working on a long-term plan to keep the Ocean Beach Pier accessible and in good shape for generations to come.”

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:

• The cheapest is repairing existing damage at a cost of roughly $8 million. But the structure would continue to degrade, necessitating more expensive repairs in the future.

• The city could rehabilitate the pier for about $30 million to $50 million, which would increase its service life but would not address vulnerability to sea-level rise, the report said.

• Most expensively, the city could tear down the pier and build a new one. This would cost $40 million to $60 million but the new pier would have a service life of 75 years or more.

“Our historic fishing pier in Ocean Beach has sustained significant damage over the years,” said City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell, whose District 2 includes Ocean Beach. “Luckily, the emergency repairs being undertaken will help us regain full access as we continue to drive the discussion on the future of the entire pier.”

In July, Gloria announced state funding of more than $200 million allocated for regional projects, including $8.4 million for the Ocean Beach Pier.

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

The pier is the second-longest on the West Coast and attracts more than 500,000 visitors annually. The city completed emergency repairs in 2019 after a damaging winter storm, fixing railings and sewer and electrical lines for a total of $430,000.

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


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