City Announces It Will Replace the Ocean Beach Pier

by on August 12, 2022 · 26 comments

in Ocean Beach

Planning for long-term project to be led by task force of locals and city staff

The City of San Diego has just announced it will replace the Ocean Beach Pier.

Planning for what will be an expensive and long-term project will be advised by a task force made up nominated local OBceans and city staff.

James Nagelvoort, director for the Strategic Capital Projects Department, made this announcement:

“The City of San Diego is moving forward with a Capital Improvement Project to replace the Ocean Beach Pier.

The pier was originally constructed in 1966 to provide fishing amenities and other services. Over the years, the pier has become a landmark for both the local community and the greater region, much more than a fishing pier.”

Unfortunately, after 56 years of exposure to a harsh marine environment, the pier has reached the end of its useful life. As part of the effort to replace the pier, an Ocean Beach Pier Replacement Task Force has been organized to advise the City on the preferred project scope and program for a new Ocean Beach Pier.”

The task force, officially the OB Pier Replacement Task Force, will be made up OB community members nominated by Ocean Beach advisory groups and appointed by the City.

The Ocean Beach Planning Board, Ocean Beach Town Council, and Ocean Beach MainStreet Association will all nominate someone for the task force.

It will also be made up of City staff from the Strategic Capital Projects Department, representatives from Council District 2 and the mayor’s offices. The task force will be supported by consultants and other City departments.

Said Nagelvoort:

“The task force’s efforts will help move this project forward. Once the initial preferred project scope is developed, it will be used to initiate project design, both the CEQA and NEPA processes, grant applications for additional project funding, environmental permits, and additional community outreach.

It is important to express that this is an initial effort to gather community input. Throughout the project design and environmental permitting phases, additional public outreach will be conducted.”

According to the Beacon:

The mission of the OB Pier Replacement Task Force is to represent local interests and work to develop the preferred project scope and program that will be used to initiate design and environmental permitting for the replacement of the OB Pier. The task force is anticipated to kick off this fall, with their work continuing through winter 2023.

The drastic move of having to replace OB’s iconic pier was anticipated and foreshadowed in Rag reporter Geoff Page’s groundbreaking reporting in 2021 on just how bad the pier was.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Page August 12, 2022 at 12:53 pm

I really, really wish everyone would stop referring to this as the Ocean Beach Pier. It is in OB and we call it that, sure. But, the pier belongs to the whole county and the cities within. Anyone who has spent time on the pier knows people come from all over the county to enjoy the pier.

Getting the money to build a new pier will be a huge effort and that effort needs to tap into as many pockets as possible. Some people will not look favorably on this if it appears to be an Ocean Beach capital improvement instead of what it really is, a regional asset. If it is too hard for some, at least just say “the pier in OB.” This is San Diego’s pier.


Frank Gormlie August 12, 2022 at 1:20 pm

I did write at first the “Ocean Beach San Diego Pier,” thinking of you.


Geoff Page August 12, 2022 at 1:22 pm

I’m trying.


Mat Wahlstrom August 12, 2022 at 1:22 pm

“A rose by any other name…” Sorry, couldn’t resist.

But seriously, given your technical expertise and profound knowledge of the current pier — especially your reporting on it that led to this moment, it would be a travesty if you are not nominated to serve on this task force.


Geoff Page August 12, 2022 at 1:53 pm

Well, thanks, Matt, Actually, I feel like I can contribute in a different way by not being in the task force but keeping an objective eye on it. If criticism is to be leveled, it might be harder from inside. And, there is a good group of people on this, especially people like Ralph Teyssier, the son of the original builder and a professional engineer.


hOBie August 12, 2022 at 2:59 pm

Geoff – as someone who knows this issue as well as anyone, curious as to your over-under on this “long-term project[s]” completion date. Seems like the environmental premitting alone for a project like this could take a decade+. 2050?


Geoff Page August 12, 2022 at 3:35 pm

Good question. My gut tells me a range of 10 to 20 years. It all depends on the financing. It could be done in 10 years if the money is obtained quickly. And, if the city is going to hand this over to a design-build contractor, as they have said, it could take less time. I’d say the permitting and designing will take at least three or four years. Building it would take less than that, as long as the weather allows it.


Paul Webb August 13, 2022 at 12:15 pm

It’s really going to depend on the urgency the city places on it. Environmental review and permitting are going to be close to nightmarish – the only bright side I can see is that there will probably be no Essential Fish Habitat issues but the will need to be a coastal permit, an Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permit, possibly a Section 7 consultation with the Fish & Wildlife Service, etc. We’re talking several years right there.

There are alternate project delivery methods, as Geoff Mentioned, that could speed up the actual design and construction process. The airport is doing Terminal 1 as design-build, which allows them to start doing the site work necessary for the project while design is still only at 30% completion. I was startled while flying out of Terminal 2 in June to see the foundations being laid for the new administration building with design still nowhere near complete.

Of course, as the dialogue on this site over the pier repairs shows, there is going to be a lot of argument over where the pier is going to be located and how it is to be constructed. Controversy takes time.


kh August 12, 2022 at 9:30 pm

Well, it’s official name is the Ocean Beach Municipal Pier. Not to be confused with the city’s other public pier in PB and the various small ones in the harbor.


Geoff Page August 16, 2022 at 2:51 pm

How about “the municipal pier in Ocean Beach? If nothing else, we all need to keep emphasizing this pier belongs to everyone in San Diego and beyond.


Sorry not Sorry September 15, 2022 at 8:43 am

Respectfully Geoff, it is the “Ocean Beach Fishing Pier”. The same as it’s the “San Ysidro Border Crossing”. Sure, it belongs to entire US/Mexico, but it is sort of an affectionate name.

How about the city sells the naming right like all the sports venues to help pay for the construction. What does everyone think about “Dexcom Fishing Pier”? Or possibly “Zephry Partners Pier”???


Frank Gormlie September 15, 2022 at 10:52 am

The pier was actually called the “San Diego Fishing Pier” when it first opened in July 1966.


OB Rag Reader August 13, 2022 at 6:41 am

Didn’t the original designer make a catastrophic error? And that is why it goes down then up again? Always thought the same people would not be the best to be involved still.
Also a few less bullets and bombs sent across the world and we’d have plenty of money to fix this and the sewage leaks into the ocean from Tijuana Valley.


Geoff Page August 16, 2022 at 2:56 pm

I’m not sure it was a catastrophic error but it was a big one. The idea was to have it as low on the water as possible for fishermen. Kind of like the bridge that once ran from OB to Mission Beach. The error was engineering based on information gathered in the summer. Any grom could have told them that made no sense. So, instead of correcting the error, they immortalized the problem by starting correction at that low point. But, there were a lot of other errors. The same people won’t be involved for sure.


kh September 15, 2022 at 3:28 pm

I’ve watched it at many king tide wave events and the very end of the pier seems to be about the minimum safe height. I’ve seen waves just kiss the deck there under the most extreme conditions, but never slamming the railing.


Kathleen Blavatt August 13, 2022 at 11:28 am

Thank you to all those, especially Geoff & Ralph, who worked hard to get to this point. I am keeping my fingers crossed that a new pier will be built in the next decade.


unwashedwalmartthonG August 13, 2022 at 11:51 am

Let the boondoggle begin!

I wonder if they could widen it just a smidgen so we could have another
runway for the airport.


Sorry not Sorry August 14, 2022 at 11:59 am

How many palm trees would have to come down for that????


Debbie August 14, 2022 at 12:27 pm

Time will tell what will happen to the pier.

OB still does not have a new library and the one OB has open limited hours. The City of San Diego purchased 4817 Santa Monica Ave around 2005 to buy the property next to the library for an expansion. The library is just a building, one cannot even guess how long it could take to fund a new pier let alone build a pier.

It will be interesting to see how the City’s Strategic Capital Projects Department performs on the pier project


sam August 15, 2022 at 7:54 am

well, they are doing an incredibly bad job on the elevator modernization project at Civic Center Plaza, so……….


Tyler August 16, 2022 at 6:11 am

I hope they consider effect on surf when they redesign


Nathan Hipple August 16, 2022 at 2:20 pm

Good point, Tyler. I’ve been away a while but my most frequent reoccuring dream is (seriously) that I return to OB and the pier has been altered or replaced. Actually reading this headline gave me really weird deja vu. It’s always a happy dream, except when I paddle out, the break is suddenly littered with new pilings and/or the seafloor has been compromised in such a way that it ruins the surf. So, from the deepest part of my unconcious I gotta say: Tyler raises a valuable concern! I, too, hope they consider effect on surf when they redesign. I mean, maybe even somehow restore that original long left point or enhance the lineup in some way…. I wonder……how might Wavegarden design a pier with performance in mind?

Peace and love, OB


Geoff Page August 16, 2022 at 3:03 pm

Yes, Tyler and Nathan, that subject has already come up. Completely relocating the pier is a possibility but the incentive to keep the location for many reasons, especially Coastal Commission permitting, are strong. But, engineers providing opinions have said that the spans between piles can be greatly increased because of advances in materials since the mid-60s. I heard a figure of 60 feet. If they engineer those in, surfing through the pier would be a cinch for anyone. Be assured, there are enough surfing advocates to keep on this one. It may not be a bad idea to hold a poll and see how popular this idea would be.


Nathan Hipple August 16, 2022 at 3:23 pm

I realize this is a locals-centered forum with contributers who are well-versed in SD politics and laws and how things work. But I really wanna play “fantasy pier”!! Please forgive me.


How would you design your fantasy pier?

First, I’d do the obvious, adjust the low spot that gets splashed a lot. But, I find it incredibly charming that the first segment of the pier is downhill. It almost welcomes you, the fisherman who is shlepping heavy coolers and tackleboxess. The pier’s downslope makes the haul a little easier.

Wondering out loud….what if the pier started from the end of.Narragansett Ave? Would the increased elevation be a benefit?

Last I checked no skateboards allowed, but how magic is it to longboard out while checking the surf?

Love the Cafe. Maybe next to it there’s a Roberto’s and upstairs a South Beach Bar and Grill. For tourists and locals.

Wider spaced pilings in the surf zone. I like how the pier forks at the end. Maybe it could trident? Maybe loop? I wouldn’t do a Santa Monica roller coastery arcade thing. Just improve the quality and quantity of fish cleaning stations. I wouldn’t do bungalows like in PB. Another charm of OB pier is tents at night! I dont know if that’s still a thing, but I wish that had been a part of my childhood. If I raised kids there, pier fish camp would be a tradition. Maybe if there was a wider tent zone or a double decker part that was for sight seeing….I dont know. In conclusion, I am just playing “fantasy pier” and this is one of my favorite places in SD, and probably the world.

How would you design your fantasy pier?


kh August 18, 2022 at 11:13 am

I would add, that the city already has an established mechanism for meaningful local public input on large capital projects such as this. In case they forgot, they are called Community Planning Groups. We have one here called the Ocean Beach Planning Board.

I am excited at their apparent motivation to involve the public early in the process, but it could be done without disregarding this institution that has existed for 50 years.


Debbi September 15, 2022 at 4:10 am

“Moffatt & Nichol will start evaluating the pier this year and expects to have construction begin on the new pier by 2026 – the cost ranging $40-$60 million with a life expectancy of 50 to 75 years.”


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