Open Letter to Politicos: ‘Help Save the OB Pier!’

by on May 20, 2021 · 4 comments

in Ocean Beach

Editordude: The following is an open letter to elected local representatives from Nicole Uneo, a well-known OBcean active in the village. The letter was originally published on OB Neighborhood Watch. Nicole encourages others to join her in writing our elected officials to help save the pier. 

To Congressman Scott Peters, Assemblymember Chris Ward, Mayor Todd Gloria, and staff;

I write to you regarding the Ocean Beach Pier, which as you may know is the longest concrete pier on the West Coast. Due in part to sea level rise, coupled with large wave events from winter storms, the pier has sustained repeated damage and has been closed to the public on and off for several years.

A structural assessment report has recently come to light stating that the pier is at the end of it’s useful life, and must be either permanently closed, repaired, or rebuilt.

I urge you to consider pursuing green infrastructure and climate resilience funding at both the State and Federal level to rebuild the pier in a way that will serve future generations with a source of clean, renewable energy.

The Ocean Beach Pier can be restructured to serve as a both a place for the public to enjoy the beautiful California coast and a sustainable ocean energy showcase in our City, with the objective of providing a newly rebuilt pier to last for generations to come as well as a location for in-water technical and environmental impact evaluation of near-shore wave energy converter devices.

New technologies have brought us ever closer to achieving the ability to harness this constant source of energy along our coastlines. California could and should be at the forefront of the international conversation currently underway that is focused on the future of wave energy.

To that end, I believe the pier could be rebuilt with pylons that incorporate intake chambers for an oscillating water column (OWC) array. Oscillating water columns function by capturing the movement of air created by each incoming wave. As waves approach the device, they enter a semi-submerged chamber which pushes air up through an energy conversion system. The benefits of OWC are multifold, since they create energy utilizing a passive structure which has a low environmental impact.

The pier provides an excellent framework for such an undertaking. An educational component could also be incorporated into the project, helping to educate visitors about the exciting frontier of ocean energy. Studies have shown that while the general public does not have much information about wave energy, there is nevertheless a widespread support of the concept. Ocean Beach is a community full of eco-minded and forward-thinking individuals that I believe would support such a proposal.

Growing up in Ocean Beach, I have many, many happy memories of the pier. I talk with people from all over San Diego and tourists from across the country that come to walk on the OB Pier, so I know others feel the same way. We look to you now to save this iconic part of our coastal landscape. We must find a way to rebuild it, and if we can do so while moving a step closer to meeting our climate goals and energy independence, then so much the better.

I again urge you to consider this direction, and look forward to discussing it further with you. I would be happy to provide some additional research on the subject at your request.

Kind regards,

Nicole Ueno

Board of Directors, Ocean Beach Planning Board
Board of Directors, Ocean Beach Community Development Corporation
Concerned Community Member & Local Business Owner

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page May 20, 2021 at 12:16 pm

Excellent letter with lots of good ideas, I hope they take notice.

I do, however, have a comment on the second sentence:

“Due in part to sea level rise, coupled with large wave events from winter storms, the pier has sustained repeated damage and has been closed to the public on and off for several years.”

It is really too much of a stretch to attribute any pier damage to sea level rise. I think the subject of sea level rise and climate change suffer from the same reactions. People who believe in both listen. People who believe both are hoaxes just turn off when they see these words.

And, yes the winter storms have certainly damaged the pier. I would have added two more points. The sad state of the pier is also due to a faulty design and years of inattention to problems the city clearly knew about.


nostalgic May 21, 2021 at 8:29 am

Appealing to the city will likely result in the Ocean Beach Redevelopment District. Abbott Street is prime for redevelopment. The Redevelopment District may be needed to support the pier expenses and be in place before the pier development. Visit Little Italy to get the idea. The other idea will be a special Maintenance Assessment District. Some people may think that if OBceans want this, they should pay for it. The flow of government money is not like the tide; what goes in and out is not like ocean water. Nicole has a good idea to get our Congressman involved from the very beginning.


Geoff Page May 21, 2021 at 10:56 am

There is a flaw in your reasoning, I think. This is not OB’s pier, it is the city’s pier. The vast majority of the people who enjoy the pier live elsewhere either in San Diego or other parts of the world. And I mean, world, the groups of people you see strolling the pier speaking another language are common.


Peter from South O May 21, 2021 at 10:57 am

The OB Fishing Pier is a County of San Diego asset, not just a local tourist attraction and should be treated as infrastructure for financing purposes.


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