The City of Pismo Beach celebrated the completion of its iconic structure on Oct. 28 with a ribbon cutting ceremony for the re-opening of the pier. Smiles, cheers and congratulations were in abundance at the momentous occasion. Even the weather seemed to celebrate the event with 78 degrees and cloudless skies.
“We’re delighted to finally have the pier reopening,” said Mayor Ed Waage. “It answers the question ‘When does the pier open?’ The answer is today!” Waage went on to say how proud he is of the staff from those who found the money to fund the project, the “crack engineering staff,” all the people that brought the plans to fruition and the patient public that waited almost two years for the pier to reopen.
“This is a great day,” said City Manager Jim Lewis. “This is as about as good as it gets.” He went on to say, “It’s the soul of our community, we couldn’t be prouder.”
Lewis said that the new pier was built to the exact dimensions of the old one and should last 100 years. The new construction is equipped with energy efficient lighting, new trashcans, benches and picnic tables emblazoned with the city logo and also has electrical, waste and sewer utilities for events. The structure also sports decorative banners, two fish cleaning stations and a drinking station with a bottle filler adaptation.
The project was completed eight months ahead of schedule and several hundred thousand dollars under budget and barely delved into the budget’s 15 percent to construction contingency allotment of $969,300. The final cost of the project was $8.2 million and was entirely funded by local money.
“This pier will last generations,” said Waage to the crowd. “I am so proud to be a part of it.”
The cty also raised $30,000 for its general fund from the old pier’s demolition by selling the discarded lumber to the public. City officials informed the Coast News that there is no lumber left to purchase.
Addressing the crowd, Lewis said he felt proud that the material from the former pier was not sitting in a landfill, but lives on as floorings, signage, art and furniture throughout the beach community.
The celebration coincided with the annual Clam Festival now in its 72 years. This year the city altered the parade route to end at the pier. City officials encouraged the public to follow the last parade entrant along the path to witness the re-grand opening of the pier on the first diamond.
The event was free to the public however the city sold Pierfest VIP tickets at $40 a pop. The sold out midday event also celebrated the semi-recent reopening of Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana. The restaurant closed in 2016 due to fire damage. The event featured Giuseppe’s signature wood-fired pizzas, salad, dessert bites, beer and wine for purchase from the expanded Pier Garden with live music by Wordsauce.
Back in 1882 the pier started as a wharf and was constructed for $14,613 equal to $361,656 today. It served as a loading station for freight ships. According to a San Luis Obispo Tribune article published on Aug. 20, 1881, the pier was approximately 1,400 feet long. After the wharf’s collapse from a storm in 1897 (some reports state the collapse occurred in 1905), a new structure was built in 1924. Though a specific length could not be found, the new pier was long enough to allow Navy ships tie to it and cars were allowed to drive on the structure.
The 1982-83 El Niño storm washed away a large portion of the building as it did with almost all the California piers. The storm is said to be the largest one of the century and arguably the worst storm in recorded history. During the storm, trade winds not only reversed but collapsed entirely causing ramifications felt on a global scale. A science article “El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: A Reversal of Fortune” by Kimberly Amaral stated, “Twelve years later, a wave of warm water from the 1982 El Niño lived on (in 1994, it measured only eight inches high and traveled about five miles an hour).”
The pier was rebuilt again in the mid-1980s and stood until 2016 when officials deemed it was no longer safe due to its age after a 2015 comprehensible structural inspection was performed. During the reconstruction wood from the original 1924 construction was still found.
By Mark A. Diaz