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Engineering & Capital Projects | Public Safety

Ocean Beach Pier To Remain Closed Through Storm Season

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entrance of the ocean beach pier with closed gates

As a result of recent damage and with the potential for additional structural impairment from the upcoming storm season, the City of San Diego will keep the Ocean Beach Pier closed through the early part of 2024. San Diego Lifeguards closed the pier on Oct. 20 as a precaution during high surf conditions. While it was closed, the pier incurred surface damage and has remained closed since. Once the storm season has passed, the City will reassess and determine the next steps for the iconic 57-year-old pier. 

The City has remained committed to providing a safe pier for San Diegans and visitors to enjoy despite recurring damage from storms and high surf in recent years. In 2019, the pier was damaged in January and was closed until May. City staff repaired damage to the railings and utilities for an estimated cost of $430,000. In January 2021, the pier was damaged again and was closed until that July. A contractor repaired structural issues while City staff repaired damage to the railings for an estimated cost of nearly $1 million.  

This past January, the pier was damaged once again and was closed until early July. City staff repaired damage to the railings and buildings for an estimated cost of $230,000. The most recent repairs provided less than four months of access before the pier suffered additional damage. Over the past five years, the City has spent approximately $1.7 million to repair the pier, not including the cost of staff time and additional resources, and it has been closed to the public approximately 30% of the time due to damage. 

“The cycle of damage and repairs for the Ocean Beach Pier has been an increasing challenge in recent years – and one that we cannot prevent,” said City Engineer Rania Amen, Director of the Engineering and Capital Projects Department. “Our teams will monitor the situation throughout the storm season and be ready to fully assess the structure, both above and below the water, once it is appropriate.” 

As a result of the repeated repairs in recent years and a 2018 study that determined the pier has reached the end of its service life, the City has launched the Ocean Beach Pier Renewal project, which aims to provide a long-term solution for the pier, likely through a replacement. 

The City has hosted a series of community workshops to gather input from San Diegans about what they want to see in a potential pier replacement. During the most recent workshop in September, the City unveiled three preliminary design concepts: The Squint Test, The Remora and The Braid. These concepts feature ideas for specific amenities as previously prioritized by community members, including how the pier meets the land, on-pier viewing areas and public gathering spaces, among others. San Diegans were asked to provide input on the designs through an online survey. Results from that survey will help shape the preferred design concept, which is expected to be presented to the public early next year. 

“The extended closure of the iconic Ocean Beach Pier further highlights the need to potentially replace the current structure,” said Strategic Capital Projects Assistant Director Elif Cetin. “We have spent months collaborating with San Diegans about what they would like to see if the current pier is replaced and we are excited to share that preferred design with the community in 2024.” 

The project is currently in the preliminary engineering and planning phase and still needs to go through additional review, including California Environmental Quality Act and National Environmental Policy Act permitting, other regional agency permitting, design and construction. 

After the preferred design concept is completed, a detailed project schedule and cost estimate will be prepared. Currently, $8.4 million in state funding is designated for the project, and the City will pursue other state and federal grants.