By the Bay

Donate on the Fourth for the pier

judysalamacha@gmail.comJune 30, 2013 

At age 89, Michigander Stella Kozel had never seen the Pacific Ocean. She hoped she could walk to the end of Cayucos Pier, and she did.  The high-five salute in celebration was documented with a photo.

Jody Hollier of Bakersfield remembers her first business venture with Tiffany LeClair. As pre-teens, they painted sea shells, then earned ice cream money on the pier.

Recent Morro Bay High School graduate Brittany Thompson recalls the butterflies and excitement anticipating her first junior lifeguard jump off the pier.

“One of my earliest memories of Cayucos revealed more about the town than I knew at the time,” said Cayucos Pier Project publicity chairwoman Kate Stulberg. While lunching at Schooner’s, three bikini-clad teenage girls jumped off the pier. Shocked, I asked, ‘Isn’t that illegal!?’ The bartender said, ‘Things are different here.’ I eventually learned this community works together whenever there is need.”

Now, the wooden walkway stretching over Estero Bay is in peril.

Cayucos Pier is still accessible; however, a recent engineering report soon to be posted on says, “The next big storm could cause the pier to be condemned and closed. The projected cost is over $2,000,000.”

Lead organizer Greg Bettencourt said, “Cayucos townspeople have created a community-based organization to raise $100,000 to help renovate the pier in Cayucos. This effort is in cooperation with the county of San Luis Obispo, the responsible agency for pier repairs. Funds will be received through the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County.”

The Cayucos Pier was once a vital site for Central Coast commerce. Capt. James Cass, founder of Cayucos, built the 981-foot pier in 1876 for about $16,400. In 1896, Cass was licensed to charge tolls.  The pier served charter boats as late as the 1970s.

Thursday’s Cayucos Independence Day celebration kicks off the fund development campaign.

“We are enlisting the support of residents and visitors who have enjoyed the pier for generations.  The old wooden pier is an historic Cayucos landmark — it defines our town,” Bettencourt said.

Cayucos philanthropist Jim McCoy donated the initial $10,000. Cayucan Margaret Bretz said a pier-side booth will offer information and sell T-shirts. They will pass donation canisters during the parade.

What’s a memory worth? $5,$50? Help Cayucans save Cayucos Pier.

Judy Salamacha’s column is special to The Tribune. Reach her at or 801-1422.

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