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Beloved Ocean Beach Pier Faces Uncertain Future

Waves crash against the Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego County. Dec. 28, 2020.

Photo by Mike Damron

Above: Waves crash against the Ocean Beach Pier in San Diego County. Dec. 28, 2020.

There’s nothing unusual about piers in seaside towns and cities in California — but this one is deeply embedded in what makes OB, OB.

Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association executive director Denny Knox is still coming to grips with the findings of a new report that shows the pier is in very bad shape.

Listen to this story by John Carroll.

“I’m sort of in shock that it’s as dire as it is," Knox said.

The pier is an impressive structure. It's 1,971 feet, making it the longest concrete pier on the west coast.

It officially opened on July 2, 1966, to great fanfare. Thousands of people showed up. Then-Gov. Edmund “Pat” Brown was the first person to fish off the pier on that day.

But the pounding dealt out on a daily basis by the Pacific has taken its toll.

The damage is spelled out in the report just released to the city. The first line certainly gets your attention: "the Ocean Beach Fishing Pier, built in 1966, has reached the end of its service life."

Reported by John Carroll

“To lose the pier would be a devastation to Ocean Beach, to Point Loma, to San Diego as well ... it would hurt our businesses as well as all the other local businesses in the area," said Ocean Beach native Mike Akey, who's a real estate broker in OB and Point Loma. “I know the fellow who has the WOW Cafe out there, he was shocked to find that out yesterday and I think he doesn’t even know what to say about it.”

In a statement, the city said it "continues to move forward with the design of a future capital improvements program project that will repair and replace much of the structural components that have or soon will exceed their useful life while addressing rising sea levels caused by climate change."

When asked whether that means there’s a possibility the pier could be demolished, the city has yet to respond.

The report lays out several options, from simply demolishing the pier to fixing it, to building a new one — the latter two options running into the tens of millions of dollars.

Knox said she’s reaching out to everyone she can think of at the city to make sure there’s an understanding of how much this means to OB. And, she’s hoping for a miracle.

“Somebody has $60 million they don’t know what to do with? I have a project for you,” she said.

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John Carroll
General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm a general assignment reporter and Saturday morning radio anchor for KPBS. I love coming up with story ideas that aren't being covered elsewhere, but I'm also ready to cover the breaking news of the day. In addition, I bring you the local news headlines on Saturday mornings during NPR's Weekend Edition.

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