State and local officials revealed a "major windfall of state funding for San Diego" on Tuesday afternoon that includes a pile of cash for fixing the pier in Ocean Beach.
The good news for Obecians came in the form of a press conference announcement teasing funding for a host of big-bucks projects wish-listed around the region, totaling up to more than $200 million, "beneficiaries" of the California state budget inked last week by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
"Some of the notable projects include $8.4 million for repairs to the Ocean Beach pier, $50 million for San Diego’s Pure Water project, $18 million for clean energy storage at San Vicente Reservoir and $3.1 million for Chollas Creek, in addition to $27.3 million to combat homelessness," the press release states.
"The dollars that San Diego is receiving from the state will upgrade critical infrastructure, help us fight homelessness, ensure a reliable supply of clean water, enhance our arts and culture and much more,'' San Diego mayor Todd Gloria said at a news conference held Wednesday morning at the Ocean Beach pier.
Gloria was joined Tuesday by State Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, who represents San Diego's own District 39 in Sacramento, and other local luminaries.
The $8.4 million in funding for the pier, while not enough to replace the aging structure, will go a long way toward remedying its most pressing problems.
The OB pier was partially reopened in May after repairs to damage caused by storms earlier this year were completed. At that time, city engineers said a portion of the pier could safely reopen after railings and other parts were fixed, but the part of the pier beyond the cafe but before the expansion joint remained closed for safety reasons.
At about that same time, it was revealed that the city had completed an inspection of the pier in 2019 and found it had "reached the end of its service life."
The 2019 inspection found cracked pilings and erosion along the pier's 1,971-foot length -- but 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, prepared at a taxpayer expense of close to $700,000, said the city had three options going forward:
- First and cheapest is repairing existing damage, amounting to $8 million. This will essentially kick the issue down the road. The 55-year-old structure will continue to crumble and degrade, necessitating more expensive repairs in the future
- Second, the city could rehabilitate the pier for somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million to $50 million, which would increase service life but "would not address the sea level rise vulnerability," the report said
- Lastly, and most expensively, the city could tear it down and build a new one. This would run anywhere from $40 million to $60 million but have a service life of 75 years or more
So it appears the state funding will likely be applied to the first option, giving life again to the beating heart of OB's shoreline.
Because the funding is only enough for patchwork, some questioned whether the $8 million is better used somewhere else. Others say it's money well spent.
"Of course it's money well spent. That pier is like the heart of OB," Pacific Beach resident Karen O'Grady said.
"I think it's great money spent. People love fishing, people love seeing the ocean from a different point of view," OB resident Ryan Carlson added.
Melanie Boda, an Ocean Beach Planning Board member, hopes the city eventually goes all out and replaces the pier with something that will last another 75 years.
"We could do an energy consumption, we could do wave energy, we could do marine biology at the end of the pier, we could do all kinds of stuff that would collect money for the city and it would continue to be an iconic location for many people to come and visit," Boda said.
San Diego's Pure Water program, a project intended to convert wastewater to drinkable water and provide roughly half of San Diego's water supply by 2035. It received $50 million from the state budget.
Gloria advocated for a massive investment in fighting homelessness along with members of California's Big City Mayors'coalition. The state will invest $12 billion over the next two years in efforts to address homelessness, including $1 billion in direct funding to cities. Of that, San Diego is expected to receive at least $27.3 million this year.
Other big-money items in the budget impacting local communities include:
- $35 million to replace an aging research vessel used by Scripps Institution of Oceanography
- $35 million for the renovation and remodel of a historic theater and community room at the San Diego Community College District's Educational Cultural Complex
- $30 million for planning, design, site development and construction of a replacement UCSD Hillcrest Medical Center
- $3.7 million for building renovations at the Casa del Prado in Balboa Park
- $3.1 million to prevent polluted stormwater runoff from entering Chollas Creek in the community of Southcrest
- $3 million for capital improvements at the San Diego Symphony's new Rady Shell bayfront concert venue
- $2.5 million for renovations at the Barnes Tennis Center in Point Loma
- $1 million for gun-violence-restraining-order training for law enforcement agencies
"Ten years ago, my neighbors sent me to Sacramento to vote on my first state budget,'' Atkins said. This year, I was proud to stand up for our community once again and vote on a budget that makes huge investments in the San Diego region."