City says it still plans to reopen Ocean Beach Pier — as early as this summer

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SAN DIEGO — The City of San Diego says it still plans to reopen the Ocean Beach Pier after repairs are completed, potentially as early as this summer, after reports that it may be closed permanently.

City engineers say a portion of the pier, which has been repeatedly battered by high surf and closed to the public, can safely reopen after railings and other parts of the structure are fixed, City Councilmember Jennifer Campbell said in a statement Wednesday.

“A specific timeline for the reopening cannot be guaranteed but engineers believe it could open by summer,” the update reads.

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; and
  • The pier will close during very high tides.

“I am grateful that a large portion of the Ocean Beach Pier can be safely reopened for the enjoyment of residents and visitors,” Campbell wrote. “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.”

News that the city plans to repair and reopen the iconic structure comes after months of closure and growing speculation that it could be demolished. In a report from 2019 that was made public last month, an analysis found it had “reached the end of its service life.”

The 364-page report written by Moffatt & Nichol, at a taxpayer expense of close to $700,000, found 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.

Last, 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.

In April, Campbell credited the local publication O.B. Rag for first bringing the report to her attention.

“The Ocean Beach Pier has been a treasured part of our city since it was opened in 1966,” Campbell said. “But the pier has sustained significant damage through the years. My office has asked for updates on the extent of the latest damage since it was first closed earlier this year. Unfortunately, the recently released assessment report was not made available to my office.

“I thank Geoff Page at the OB Rag for bringing this 2019 report to light which gives us a realistic look at the condition of the pier.”

Now Campbell’s office says she 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 of the pier will likely 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 in June 2020, only to close it again in January after another storm.

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