For the first time in more than a year and a half, one of the most iconic local landmarks fully reopened to the public. The City of San Diego reopened the Ocean Beach Pier Friday morning — and San Diegans wasted no time getting back out there.
Hours after the sun went down Saturday, people were still making their way out to the Ocean Beach Pier. Those who work and play on the pier say it's likely to stay packed all summer long.
Jason Peres works at the pier's cafe and bait shop.
"I was excited because the pier opening again brings back a lot more traffic," says Peres. "A lot more customers. So it's exciting to have more people on the pier."
Damage from a high surf in January of 2021 forced the city to shut down the pier. It reopened partially, and intermittently, until now. Peres says it's not just profits people missed.
"The best views and the best fishing is at the end of the pier," says Peres.
"Fishing up against the shore you have to deal with the surfers and the swimmers," says occasional fisherman Patrick Zatorski.
Occasional fisherman Patrick Zatorski says there's no comparison to fishing at the end of the pier.
"With the pier open," says Zatorski. "You have the opportunity to walk out there or see a sunset on the water."
It's an opportunity San Diegans didn't have for months on a pier that's already six years past its shelf life.
"It almost when you look at the water level appears that the pier has sunk, "says Karla Kwist, who grew up in Ocean Beach.
"When the waves would come over the pier it would make front page news because that's just something that didn't happen," says Kwist. "It was a once in a 10-year thing. But now when I come back to visit it happens frequently like it's an everyday thing."
Right now the city is exploring options to rebuild the pier entirely, a process set to begin in the fall and one estimated to cost upwards of $65 million.
"It's a part of the character of all the people who make up this place," says Kwist. "It's a really important element."
Repairs have cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars already, and will continue to cost the city more until there is a new pier altogether - one which would have a new shelf life of 75 years.