Memories of the Closures and Damage of the Ocean Beach Pier

by on February 17, 2021 · 4 comments

in History, Ocean Beach

Pier overflow 12-28-09-sm

OB Pier – Monday, December 28, 2009. Photo by Jim Grant.

With all the discussion about the current state of the Ocean Beach Pier, we thought about all the times over the past 12 years the pier has been forced to close and damaged. Here, then, is a memory tour of many of those moments, and a reminder of how much we all love the OB Pier. (The text and photos are from posts at the OB Rag.)

December 28, 2009 – The big news around downtown OB today was the big waves, number one – which forced the OB Pier to be closed by lifeguards. With large swells arriving up and down the Southern Cal coast, and with a National Weather Service high surf advisory in effect until 10 p.m. on Monday, local lifeguards had to close the pier, while a few top-notch surfers braved the waves – which could have been as high as 8 feet.

high surf over pier 1-19-10 nate

Tuesday, January 19, 2010. Photo by Nate Hipple.

January 19th, 2010 – OB Pier Closed Due to High Surf and Damage

pier closed 1-19-10 nate-smThe Ocean Beach Pier was closed Tuesday, January 19th, 2010. due to the high surf and some damage. A hand-written sign – with Tuesday’s date – appeared on the Pier’s closed gate announcing its closure. The sign stated:

Ocean Beach Pier will be closed due to surf damage. Repairs will be made as soon as possible.

Inquiries were directed to the local lifeguards. I called the lifeguards and spoke with Sgt. Travis Gleason, who told me there is some damage to the Pier, but he didn’t have any details.

pier damage 01 sm

Photo by Jim Grant. March 5, 2010

March 5, 2010: 250 Yards of OB Pier Damaged – Will Be Closed Another Week and Half –

City workers say the pier has railing damaged including posts, railing members, cap railing and other timbers !! Electrical conduit was ripped off as well. The extensive damage includes approximately 250 yards of damaged or broken wooden railing on the south side of the pier, including a bait sink. Work Control was contacted to have the carpenter’s out asap. Based on the amount of damage, General Services is estimating that the Ocean Beach Pier repairs will take at least ten more working days to complete.

Early March 2014: The Pier was closed Saturday morning and there’s no time table for reopening it after waves crashed over it throughout the weekend.

Jan. 25, 2016

OB pier damage 1-24-16

Screen capture from 7SanDiego

After being damaged by large waves on Saturday, the OB Pier had re-opened by Sunday afternoon. The damage was sufficient to close the famous icon of OB. Part of a railing was cracked and crews had replaced the broken wood and repaired the damaged electrical wires by late afternoon on Sunday, January 24th.

Sgt. Jon Vipond of San Diego Lifeguards told NBC 7:

“Generally the waves will hit the Ocean Beach Pier at an angle from the south so the rail on the southside of the pier was hit by some waves and there’s some minor damage.”

The waves that damaged the pier were reportedly over 10 feet

OB storm feb-Mar 14 mw pier

The OB Pier remained closed for the third-straight day. (Photos by Matthew Wood)

OB Pier high surf 3-8-16 Ch8

Screen capture from TV8News video, March 8, 2016

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016: The OB Pier has been closed by lifeguards this morning due to high surf. A high surf advisory has gone into effect. City crews are preparing the area for any damage that the high surf could cause. Lifeguards have not determined when the pier can reopen.

Feb. 2, 2017:

Lt. Lonnie Stephenson of the San Diego Lifeguards reported at the OB Town Council meeting that the OB Pier was damaged at 8 different spots, Stephenson told the crowd – the reason for its recent closure. He added, “I haven’t seen this much damage [on the pier] before.”

Jan. 18, 2019
The Ocean Beach Pier  was significantly damaged by waves and high surf and is closed and shut-down.

Debris and timber from the pier washed up at the foot of Newport Avenue and pieces were collected and carted off by locals and tourists as souvenirs.

OB Pier debris washed up. All photos by Linda Taggert unless otherwise noted.

Significant damage to the railing and the wood paneling of the pier was caused by mother ocean. 7SanDiego  Also the Pacific surge caused flooding and lifeguards closed the area surrounding Newport Avenue and Abbott Street. The severe damage could close the iconic OB Pier for a year for repairs.


Waves were predicted to reach 10 to 12 feet before 8 a.m today, Friday, during a high surf advisory. The National Weather Service issued a high surf advisory that was set to expire at 4 a.m. The advisory warned of potentially dangerous rip currents and coastal flooding.

Feb. 1, 2019: Repairs to the damaged Ocean Beach Pier will be delayed due to the current storm systems hitting San Diego, San Diego officials told the media Thursday, Jan. 31.

Alec Phillipp with the City’s Public Works Department stated to media city crews were still clearing away damaged materials and assessing the pier. Phillip said:

“We don’t have any estimates as of now, as we have to fully assess the extent of the damage before beginning repairs.”

The current storm system with its high surf has slowed down the inspection process and will slow any further work further over the next few days, Phillip said.

“The forecasted rain will likely delay our ability to assess and repair the pier.”

He also said a generator is powering lights on the pier to help boats navigate around it,

OB’s iconic pier – now 53 years old – has been closed since it was damaged by high surf and king tides during that January 18 storm. Its missing a significant chunk of the railing, which was damaged along with its the wood paneling.

The pier will remain closed. In the meantime locals and visitors alike are disappointed they can’t stroll or run on the pier or simply lean on the railing and watch nature and the surfers. At Feb. 27, 2019 meeting of the OBTC OB Pier – it’s going to be a long time for the pier to be repaired. The city only checked the underwater pilings last week; storms and high tides have prevented repairs and have actually further damaged the structure.

From March 8, 2019

The “re-pier” of the OB Pier begins. The City expects to have crews to completely repair the OB Pier and have it open by Memorial Day. As of right now, the city expects to spend $430,000 in emergency repairs.

The Pier has been closed since mid-January when it suffered mucho damage during that winter storm; it was so strong that it literally tore off pieces of wood and they washed ashore and locals and tourists grabbed the remnants as souvenirs. 2,200 feet of railings were damaged by the storm which crashed the pier’s electrical, sewer and water lines.

Of course, these utilities are necessary for the restaurant, the bait shop, the public restrooms, the fish cleaning sinks, the lights and foghorn. The repairs include the replacement of 2,200 feet of railings, about 1,100 feet on the north and south sides of the pier. An estimated half million visitors a year grace the OB Pier. The city, local merchants and citizens want the Pier open ASAP.\

For more, see San Diego Union-Tribune.

In the meantime, check these out ….


OB Pier crusher – by Joe Ewing (public domain image)


The Ocean Beach Pier will re-open this week, with an official ceremony on Thursday, May 23 at 8 am.

The symbol of OB has been closed since it was heavily damaged during storms in January. It was so damaged that many pieces of the railings washed up on shore – only to be carted off as souvenirs by locals and tourists alike.

More than 2,200 feet of guard rail, electric, water and sewer lines had to be substantially repaired or replace. Repairs estimated at $430,000 were made to the pier, which has definitely become the icon image of the seaside village. Many OBceans and other San Diegans have expressed their sadness and frustration over the pier’s closure.

No one – we assume – is more happy that the pier is opening than Chuck Fisher, who owns and operates the Walking on Water Cafe near the end of the pier. Fisher and his family have been doing this since 1993. “Twice before this closure, his place closed for six months each time. In 2002 high waves not only brought down railings but damaged the pier structure,” reports 7SanDiego

Unless there’s high surf and high winds and rain, Mayor Kevin Faulconer will officiate the official opening during an official ceremony. Jen Campbell will be there, as will the police chief and lifeguards and other officials.


Dec. 16, 2019
The Ocean Beach Pier re-opened Sunday, Dec. 15, after it was closed for over two days due to high surf and damage to the pier. San Diego Lifeguards reported that a 20-foot section of railing midway on the pier was damaged by the pounding surf that prompted the closure starting Friday morning.

Lifeguards examined the pier on Saturday and discovered the damaged section of the railing. Sunday afternoon the San Diego Lifeguards Twitter account indicated that repairs were completed and the pier had re-opened. Thanks to fast work by San Diego City carpenters. CBS8


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page February 17, 2021 at 2:48 pm

Great compilation, editor dude. Those pictures clearly illustrate what part of the pier is the problem.

The OB Rag is great source of local information you don’t get anywhere else folks . Send a few shekels along to help keep it going!


kh February 17, 2021 at 3:02 pm

Can you guys fix your subscription (unsubscribe) link? When I try to unsubscribe from comments via the link in the email, it goes to a 404 error page. I don’t see how else to unsubscribe.


Frank Gormlie February 17, 2021 at 3:52 pm

So, you punted? Sorry about that kh, I’ll notify the tech desk when she gets home.


Douglas Blackwood February 17, 2021 at 11:47 pm

Frank, You are the dude! Mahalo for your tasty reporting. The Pier takes a licking again! How much more can she take, as always: the ocean is in charge; and the waves will be back.
Its a surfers delight,if they have the skills necessary!


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