OB Pier Working Group Meeting: ‘All To Do About Nothing’

by on November 19, 2021 · 14 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

By Geoff Page

What has been dubbed the Ocean Beach Pier Working Group had its “Fall Virtual Meeting,” on Wednesday November 17. The agenda for the meeting had this heading:


The meeting was moderated by Campbell’s representative for the Ocean Beach area, Teddy Martinez. So, this is being run by the District 2 Council office, in case that wasn’t clear enough. Considering the results of this meeting, District 2 should get all the credit.

This was a Zoom meeting for a core group of meeting participants and other interested parties but was deliberately not made open to the public. At one time, there were 27 attendees.

Some of the core group come from local organizations such as Andrea Schlageter, chair of the OB Planning Board and Denny Knox from the OB Mainstreet Association. Mark Winke, former president of the OBTC and RalphTeyssier, son of the contractor who built the pier are also part of this informal core.

Other attendees included Khota Zaiser form the mayor’s office, Walt Bishop, Federal Government Affairs City of San Diego, Elif Cetin, Deputy Director, Engineering & Capital Projects, Elizabeth Scroth-Nichols, Senior Civil Engineer, City of San Diego, and two Ph.D scientists from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

Martinez opened the meeting by telling everyone how important the pier is to Campbell.  (However, it was not important enough to put in even a brief appearance like Campbell made at the previous meeting.)

After Martinez’s opening, he introduced the two Scripps scientists. The excitement about two Ph.D’s in oceanography attending, seen as a good omen, quickly faded.

Dr. Jules Jaffe, Ph.D, Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego spoke first. Dr. Jaffe described his work looking at plankton in some detail. He described some scientific uses for a new pier, that, frankly, could have been easily pursued on the existing pier.

Dr. Jaffe spoke about an underwater microscope to look at plankton. He said this could be used to provide an early warning for algae blooms. He said this same thing is done on the Scripps Pier and doing this off the new pier would provide an observational point to compliment the Scripps Pier. He mentioned ocean sensors and teaching possibilities.

When he described what it took to do these things, which was very little in the way of equipment, it did not sound like any ideas on building a pier but rather what a pier could be used for. It sounded more like a request to please consider Scripps in the new pier but there was no offer of actual help from Scripps.

As if that was not deflating enough, the next speaker, Dr. Ronald Burton, Ph.D, Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego, veered so far off track that one wondered if he knew why he was speaking. Dr. Burton began by explaining his work at Scripps. It was long explanation about plankton sampling and counting fish eggs to assess what fish are spawning locally. He said this could also be done on the new pier needing very little, perhaps a locker to store equipment and a simple winch on the railing to lower and raise plankton samplers.

Once again, this could have been done today off the existing pier, a new pier is not needed for this work. And, Dr. Burton also did not offer any assistance from Scripps. In fact, it appeared that both men were there to pitch their work as scientists more than anything else.

Martinez allowed a lot of time to the two scientists, much more than should have been allowed since the meeting was only scheduled for one hour.

Pier Condition and Funding

Martinez began this section of the agenda by launching into yet another paean for Campbell again saying how committed Campbell was and how much she cared about the OB Pier. This is a huge mistake that everyone is making, referring to this as the OB pier.  The pier is in OB but it belongs to the whole city and the county actually. By continuing to refer to this as the OB Pier it localizes the issue and not everyone in the city is fond of OB. It is the San Diego Pier.

Khota Zaiser spoke next. He began by talking about the state funding of $8.4 million that he said San Diego did not yet have. It was clear that he had no details about this money and he quickly moved on to talk vaguely about grants and how the city is looking at funding in that manner but no hard details were offered.

Walt Bishop spoke next and explained that an earmark was attempted titled “Sen. Alex Padilla Congressionally Directed Funding Request.” It was directed at the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development – Economic Development Initiative. It was a request for emergency repair funds amounting to $500,000.

The request stated the $500k would cover 68.5% of the emergency repair costs with the city able to contribute only $230,000 to the total needed. All of this funding was supposed to be enough to make repairs to the two piles that have caused the end of the pier to be closed.

Apparently, the earmark did not make it into the next year’s budget for the Transportation and Urban Housing committee. Bishop then said the national infrastructure bill may be another possibility. In short, no money for the repairs.

Engineering and Capitol Projects

Elif Cetin and Elizabeth Scroth-Nichols from City of San Diego were up next. More time was wasted explaining information about the pier damage that everyone already knew. Civil engineer Scroth-Nichols continued the city’s line that the pile damage was due to two recent storms. This is an attempt to rewrite history.

The storms did cause more damage but the damage was identified as far back as 2004. The city’s lack of any maintenance caused as much damage as the storms, more actually.

The city went on to say that the Coastal Commission was holding up the emergency repairs. This was curious. As related in the October 12 OB Rag story about the OBPB’s October meeting, the city came before the board as part of a process to obtain a coastal commission permit retroactively for repairs at the foot of Narragansett and west of the Sea Spray Apartments.

The repairs were done a year before the meeting. The emergency repair process allows circumvention of regular permit procedures because the repairs need to be done quickly and permits take a long time. It was not explained why the coastal commission was involved before the repairs are made. To some, this appeared to be an excuse because the city does not have, or will not devote, the money to fix the pier.

Cetin then wasted a bunch more time explaining contract delivery methods to everyone. Until the funding is secured, discussions of what kind of building contract method is used serve no purpose.

Community Input

The agenda only allowed for 15 minutes of community input. This was to start at 1:40 but did not begin until 1:49 leaving six minutes. Despite this, Martinez still devoted the last minutes to more high praise of his boss Campbell.  On this one-page agenda, Martinez was listed as “Teddy Martinez, Office of Council President Jennifer Campbell” three times. Just in case folks did not know Campbell was council president, it was listed four times in the agenda. Campbell is pushing her title as council president for all it is worth.

Only a few comments were made by the “community.” It appeared the audience, that included several people passionate about having a new pier, had a similar reaction to this dog and pony show and just stayed quiet.

The end result is there is no money and no concrete prospects for obtaining any. District 2 continues to treat this as an Ocean Beach project instead of a city-wide and county-wide project. The commitment from the city leaders is clearly lacking at this point since they won’t even cough up enough money for the emergency repairs.


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul Webb November 19, 2021 at 11:58 am

And you expected what, exactly?


Geoff Page November 19, 2021 at 1:45 pm

Me. I expected what we got but there are hopeful souls in the group. And with enough determination, they do accomplish things. This is a big one for sure. It just needs to be shown to a wider population that it needs to be replaced so everyone can continue to enjoy it for years.


sealintheSelkirks November 19, 2021 at 3:47 pm

Sorry to say this Geoff but if the San Diego government isn’t replaced by people who give a damn instead of biz as usual, ego-stroking, and publicity stunts like this joke of a meeting, the only thing anyone can expect is an eventual catastrophic collapse during one of the monster storm swells because, obviously, temporary fixes much less replacement isn’t even on the agenda. Even a little quake on the Rose Canyon Fault could do it in its weakened state I’m guessing.

The politicos who rule Sandy Eggo have much more important things to do like being bought with campaign bribes…oops sorry I meant ‘contributions’ and maybe even moving up the economic/power pyramid into higher office. Can we say Mayor Jen? Or perhaps Gov. Jen? Can you see her faithful PR dog panting behind her waving her flag and still singing her praises? Eewww what’s that smell?

Nobody really knows just how much shear force it’s going to take or what part of the Pier is going to fail first but we can guess, eh? The only thing we do know is that it WILL buckle eventually. Anybody started a pool on that yet?

I’m sure those in charge all hope it won’t be while they’re still in office.



unwashedWalmartThonG November 19, 2021 at 5:20 pm

Oh my gooshness, I am so very glad I missed this little get together. Methinks I’d rather watch a quartet of rhesus monkeys play Berlioz on stringed instruments. Perhaps I could place the monkeys on a parade float. I’ll see about pulling a parade permit. Perhaps Her Majesty the Honorable Ultra Highfalutin San Diego City Council President could assist me in submitting the proper paperwork for a parade permit. And before I book the monkeys into a local venue, perhaps Her Majesty the Honorable Ultra Highfalutin San Diego City Council President could also assist me in booking a nice AirBNB in freaking OB. As a sincere thank you, I would most certainly buy Her Majesty the Honorable Ultra Highfalutin San Diego City Council President a pair of nice epaulets with a bit of pave’
’round the edges.


Peter from South O November 20, 2021 at 12:59 am

The pier’s official name is the “Ocean Beach Municipal Pier”, not the “San Diego Pier”.


Geoff Page November 22, 2021 at 10:42 am

You missed the point. Peter. I know what the name of the pier is. I am trying to get everyone to not look at the pier as something for OB because that might discourage buy-in from the rest of San Diego. The pier is not just for people in OB, folks from all over the county enjoy the pier so we want to encourage everyone to help out.


Peter from South O November 22, 2021 at 11:45 am

I took you literally. That is how the statement came across to me, that everyone was making a mistake.
Strange how in good times it is the OB Pier, but only now, when it is in extremis public optics need to be swayed. I fully agree that all of our piers, especially the designated municipal fishing piers, are legitimate elements of the County infrastructure and should receive the same attention and funding that roads and bridges do.
Perhaps it is time to get volunteers to take a survey of users and where they hail from (and the number of tourists) to be prepared to make that case when this gets pointed in the right direction.
The Coastal Commission should be approached as well if the local pols keep up their obtuse disregard of what has really become a crisis.


OBer November 20, 2021 at 10:38 am

Last meeting was months ago, they deflated it from the get-go, it is rather embarrassing. And such a serious issue and easy policy dunk and win. Jen is advised by dumb dumbs. Make this an issue for her re-election campaign! Money now and a plan before election day.


Eddie S. November 20, 2021 at 12:03 pm

Here is my community input on the pier. Since the existing pier is going to have to end at the cafe, have a 4th of July celebration and blow up the T section creating and artificial reef for fish. Put stairs and a platform at the new end by the cafe so snorkelers can get up and down. Actually it would be close enough to swim out from shore but lifeguards don’t like you swimming by the rip along the pier and into the surfing area. Will bring in all sorts of tourists, and not the kind that just drink and party. Make all the beach lots pay parking to help fund it, you can’t find parking anyway. Give anyone with a 92107 drivers license a fee $100 parking card to be picked up at your city council members office.


Geoff Page November 22, 2021 at 10:47 am

Eddie, this is misguided on so many fronts. You do realize the water is pretty shallow at the end right? If the end was allowed to collapse, the ocean would use the debris to throw against what is left of the pier causing even more damage.

Paying to park at the beach only hurts people who can’t afford it. The idea of giving people in the 92107 special passes is ridiculous and elitist to the extreme.


Cynthia Quinonez November 21, 2021 at 2:38 am

Keep waiting for the city’s parks and recreation department to step in, once again engaging help from a private developer, this time to fix and manage the pier, like it has done with IQHQ for the Block 1A waterfront park parcel, at the former Navy Broadway Complex. Putting our municipal waterfront assets into others hands seems to be the only way these get the attention needed.


Geoff Page November 22, 2021 at 10:50 am

I doubt seriously if the Parks department had anything to do with the redevelopment of the old Navy complex. That project is a a public private partnership in which developers get land to develop in exchange for building somethin for the Navy at no charge. This would not work for the pier.


Paul Webb November 22, 2021 at 11:18 am

Geoff and Cynthia, as I understand it, the city parks department was intended to have a role in operating the park to be located in Block 1A. That has changed recently, however, and now the park will be developed, operated and managed by the developer. The most interesting part of this deal is that now half of the the park can be closed for small and medium events at any time, and large events can use the entire park for five days at a time for a total of 30 days a year. Some public park. Oh, and the city has declined to accept the museum space that the developer was supposed to turn over on another block of this development. Again, the city puts the interest of the developer over the interests of the public.


Debbie November 22, 2021 at 11:33 am

Just throwing out an idea. Name…Shell Pier (generic belongs to no one/everyone).

Make this new pier one of the best designs for which it will receive notoriety and who knows maybe even some generous contributions.

Obviously, construct it so it will last and make sure maintenance is a priority. You will have to visualize here…..Using a similar design as the present and at the end of the “T” add a section something like what is in this graphic using the pearl and the shell portion https://www.istockphoto.com/vector/seashell-with-pearl-outline-icon-gm999618804-270335920 . The pearl would be a few take-out restaurants (ice cream/yogurt shop, taco shop, burger/hot dog/fish/salad shop) and restrooms. Along the perimeter of the shell are tables to sit at with colorful umbrellas. As one enters and walks along the pier have benches with the names of places in San Diego (OB, PB, Old Town, Clairemont, etc.) you get the idea) Also have space for vendors to set up on occasion to display and sell hand-made goods, art, (stuff like that), and not forget areas for people to fish along the left and right of the “T” with restroom availability.

Lastly, lights underneath that can change color depending on the day of the week.

No bikes, skateboards, or anything that runs over people. Just a peaceful pier to walk, sit and enjoy.

Yes, this would cost a fortune! If you do not like this idea, no problem just put out your own thoughts on what you think will add motion to the ocean.


Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: