The 3 Design Concepts for the Ocean Beach Pier

by on September 11, 2023 · 18 comments

in Ocean Beach

Here are the preliminary design concepts for the OB Pier unveiled at a workshop on Saturday.

We offer now only renderings and the brief descriptions of the different designs by the city, without comment.

Preliminary Design Concept #1 – The Squint Test

The Squint Test concept utilizes the current pier’s layout and design but proposes to widen the pier, add a fishing deck around a reconstructed café building, and introduce an additional deck south of a new building with upgraded restrooms, and potential retail space and/or a community room. It is referred to as The Squint Test because this concept explores placemaking and activation strategies that have been thoughtfully located to minimize their visibility and retain the historic and iconic silhouette of the pier as seen from land.

Preliminary Design Concept #2 – The Remora

The Remora is inspired by the symbiotic relationship between the Remora fish and the sharks that they attach themselves to. It highlights the original layout and design of the pier and adds a series of features that celebrate the unique ocean experiences and activities at the heart of the Ocean Beach community. New features include a shaded surfer’s lounge area, an enhanced junior lifeguard jump platform, an expanded deck at the reconstructed historic café for outdoor dining, integrated fishing amenities and an expanded plaza with a small retail pavilion.

Preliminary Design Concept #3 – The Braid

The Braid concept builds upon the long, linear experience of the pier, reworking it into a series of separate but interconnected pathways that provide visitors with a unique and distinct ocean experience compared to other piers across southern California. Along with the normal walking path, this concept includes viewing experiences both above and below the pier’s elevation. Other features include potential retail, dining and community spaces, lowered fishing areas, enhanced restrooms, and a curvilinear layout to the arms on the west end, which increases the pier’s length.

“After months of connecting with the community and learning more about what they want to see in a potential Ocean Beach Pier replacement, we are excited to share some of the possibilities,” said Strategic Capital Projects Assistant Director Elif Cetin. “This effort doesn’t stop here. We need San Diegans to let us know what they like and don’t like about these concepts, as their continued input will shape the final design concept that may end up becoming the next iconic structure in Ocean Beach.”

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie September 11, 2023 at 10:50 am

Maybe the simpler the better and less expensive. Build it to last, minimum maintenance, to give a quiet, safe, peaceful, experience to see the beauty of the ocean.

What are enhanced restrooms?


Chris September 11, 2023 at 4:15 pm



Paul Webb September 12, 2023 at 9:58 am

Chris, you beat me to it.


Debbie September 12, 2023 at 1:48 pm

Maybe TV’s? or Air Conditioning or Just Cleaned Daily :-)


Honesty September 18, 2023 at 10:15 am

To be fair, maybe well-placed grab bars/ADA-compliant fixtures, or even a blower for drying washed hands that isn’t a long, drippy reach across the room!


John O. September 11, 2023 at 11:48 am

How much? Plans with no cost? Seems pretty shady.


Chris September 12, 2023 at 7:37 am

Conspiracy theory much? Just because costs aren’t mentioned in the articles does not mean there’s some secret going on. No one is expecting this to not be a massively expensive project. That’s kind of a given.


Geoff Page September 12, 2023 at 10:36 am

They don’t put estimates on concepts. Once people decide what they’d like to have, it goes to a design-builder who will price it. If the price is too high, then they look at trimming back the concept. There is nothing shady going on.


Debbie September 11, 2023 at 12:46 pm

If you wish to complete survey #3 concerning the design concepts go here:


Geoff Page September 11, 2023 at 3:21 pm

The workshop was very well attended, there were about 150 – 200 people there. It showed that the public outreach effort was pretty well done by Cook & Schmid. The Rag helped out by running the meeting notice too. The first two meetings were also well attended but this looked like the biggest crowd.

There some very interesting concepts as the pictures show. I really liked the Braid design with all the different levels and it is a striking figure. There would be questions about maintenance and overall cost that would probably make this version impractical.

There are a lot more concepts, not shown here, for how the pier meets the land and adjacent ideas for improving the approach and beachfront. While a lot of this looks really nice, I personally am leery of including too many improvements to “Ocean Beach” making this a project for Ocean Beach, when it is for all of San Diego. If it is perceived as something to improve OB, that may not go over well in the rest of the city and county. This is a San Diego project, not an Ocean Beach project.

Here is the link to the Power Point from the workshop, it’s worth a look.


John Smith September 11, 2023 at 5:02 pm

These designs look nice on the surface. But what is actually practical and feasible here with the funds that the city can secure for rebuilding the pier? Functionality and maintenance should be at the top of the list. The pier needs to be constructed to withstand strong winter swells for decades, as well as account for inevitable sea level rise. Also, I think a priority needs to be on enforcement of loitering, camping, etc. on or around the pier area. The parking lot and surrounding area of the current OB pier is a warzone. It is filthy and filled with drug addicts who basically overtake the entire area. It’s not even a safe place for families to walk around with their kids. Is the city going to spend tens of millions of dollars to build a new pier, just to let it be overtaken again?


Geoff Page September 12, 2023 at 10:34 am

The pier itself has never been overtaken by all of that. The wall and the boardwalk are another story. People from all over San Diego come to enjoy the pier.


Frank Gormlie September 13, 2023 at 7:50 pm

Not only that, the pier was promised to the fishing people of San Diego when the city took out the fishing bridge to South Mission Beach – that once held a trolley line. Circa 1950?


Geoff Page September 13, 2023 at 8:32 pm

The dip you see in the pier today is evidence that it was built to be a fishing pier. They wanted to get the people fishing done low on the water like the fishing bridge to South Mission did. The problem was that the South Mission bridge was not exposed to the open ocean like pier was. The winter waves that arrived as the pier was being built taught the designers a lesson and the pier rises from that dip because of this mistake.


Will September 16, 2023 at 4:30 am

I was curious about that dip. That is where waves seem to smash the pier the best.

Wish there was still a bridge or a trolley to Mission Beach. The OB Historical Society has a video on YouTube of the old trolleys coming to the beaches all the way to La Jolla. It is excellent.


sealintheSelkirks September 16, 2023 at 12:05 pm

Gee, I always thought it was dipped because somebody followed the wrong line on the original plans….you know, one of those ‘oops’ moments? /s

Doubtful one sees many great fish catches from that close in…much like surf casting, as bigger fish tend to be in deeper water anyway which is the entire point of a fishing pier.

I like the visual of the 3rd, the Braid, with the upper deck to hang out. It somehow has a nice flow to look at (from above anyway) though I really can’t visualize what it would look like from the beach. I also like the plaza on the end, upper ocean viewing, and the ‘shaded area’ for people to get out of the sun. The terraced surf rider theater idea seems kinda cool, also.

The lowered deck ‘fishing zones’ on these concepts concern me, though. They are going to be impacted by winter swells I’m assuming, so how well they’ll hold up to being pounded on and safety for the people fishing is a concern. Closer to the surface and suddenly a building swell sweeps a bunch of people, ya know?

But I’m thinking that they included this because the main deck is actually going to be built higher than the original so it actually won’t be impacted as much by wave action?

As for Will’s wish for a bridge OB to South Mish with a re-introduction of a trolley line, I’m sure those locals would absolutely hate the constant 24/7 traffic flow that would instantly be generated. Also imagine the cost of such a substantial and tall structure built! Though it would be a great idea to allow people to park cars inland and ride to the beach…

How about a walk/bike/trolley bridge but no auto traffic at all to connect the beaches? Ha!



nostalgic September 18, 2023 at 10:05 am

I was there watching when the current dip occurred, and work stopped because of the dangers to the constantly drenched construction crew in December, not to mention the tipsy and expensive cranes. There was nothing pre-planned, which might be reflected in old newspaper clippings.


Frank Gormlie September 18, 2023 at 10:49 am

Wow, nostalgic, you must have been a kid!

I was also a teen when it was being built. We used to tell time by which piling was in; my GF and I broke up on the 13th piling and made up on the 15th.


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