The Ocean Beach Pier has been a longstanding, iconic spot here in San Diego, but the future of the damaged pier has been unclear for a while now.
At an OB Planning meeting Wednesday night, the city’s director of capital projects told community members the plan is to rebuild the structure, not just repair it. The pier is six years past its service life – king tides and rough weather has beaten it down, broken its railings and damaged its supports leading the city to close it completely.
The repair costs have been in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but nowhere near the cost to replace it. Three years ago, rebuilding the pier came at an estimated cost of $65 million. That price tag bought 75 more years of fishing, gazing and fun above the surf break for another 75 years, but by now that is likely an underestimate.
Still, community leaders are optimistic and see great promise in the city’s commitment.
“Every logo of every business in Ocean Beach has a pier on it. Every single one,” OB resident Denny Knos said.
Knos and her group of locals have for a year now pushed the city to focus on the plight of the pier, and at Wednesday night’s meeting they got their wish.
“I have never seen the federal government put up so much money in my life in doing this for 30 years,” said James Nagelvoort, director of engineering and capital projects for the city of San Diego. “We used to talk about billions of dollars. They are talking trillions.”
Nagelvoort comes with glad tidings, and more importantly, the beginning of a pier replacement plan: Create an OB Pier Task Force from the community to work with the city; get the city council to hire a consultant and contractor in the fall; spend fall and winter coming up with a design, cost estimate , environmental considerations, and funding sources.
“It’s something people enjoy when they come in from all over the country and all over the world, so we have to keep that in mind and think big when we go after this design,” said Mark Winkie with OB Community Development.
The sticking point, of course, is the $65 million and up price tag. Nagelvoort said the pier plan must have a regional appeal with more than a view. Some suggestions include using the tide to power a marine lab for ocean studies, or maybe a surf museum.
“I like the learning component. It’s always interesting when I travel somewhere else I always like to see something new I don’t know about,” Knos said.
Whatever the design, it will not be the same pier Ralph Tessier’s dad Leonard built 56 years ago. Ralph says it’s time be bold.
“It’s time for doing something newer and better than what we have now, and that’s very exciting,” Tessier said.
The city does have some seed money. It received $8.4 million from the state budget last year. Nagelvoort said that’s enough to get the project to the shovel stage, which is where it needs to be to be eligible for federal grants.
The OB Pier Task Force will consist of two or three residents that are recommended by the planning board and there is already no shortage of volunteers.