Last half of Cayucos Pier being closed for safety reasons

Fearing for public safety, officials fence off end of pier after realizing extent of deterioration

ktanner@thetribunenews.comJuly 5, 2013 

Faced with a looming public-safety problem, San Luis Obispo County Parks officials have closed off the seaward half of the Cayucos pier, citing the critical condition of some groupings of supports underneath the aging wooden structure.

They hope the closure will be temporary, but that depends on an engineer’s assessment.

“At this point, it’s in the public interest not to let folks go all the way to the end of the pier,” Supervisor Bruce Gibson said.

A chain-link fence was installed Friday to block public access.

At least one support “bent,” which is supposed to have four separate legs or pilings in a grouping, only has two, and one of those is no longer connected to the deck, according to Curtis Black, deputy director of County Parks, and Greg Bettencourt of Cayucos, an organizer of the www.savecayucospier.org committee that is raising funds to help the county get grants to repair the pier.

The severity of the problem was discovered during a closer inspection of the pier Wednesday with a Tribune photographer.

Black said he plans to accelerate an already planned, detailed engineering analysis of the condition of the wooden pier, built in 1876.

The state owns the pier, but the county operates and maintains it under a cooperative contract that also covers Montaña de Oro State Park, the Morro Bay Golf Course and other facilities.

State officials have been notified of the closure, Black said, which complies with county codes.

County supervisors in March authorized spending $103,000 for the in-depth examination and report, based in part on information from a 2009 engineering study of the pier.

The new report is due late this fall, although some are pushing to get the results earlier.

Black said that because park funds, such as public facilities funds, can’t be used to repair an existing facility, the more than $2.1 million cost to rebuild the pier would have to be paid for with grants, donations and other sources.

The aging Cayucos pier has been repaired on and off through the years, such as after storms damaged the structure in 1983 and 1993.

But according to the fundraising website, “comprehensive structural maintenance has not been done for decades. Most of its pilings, headers and attachments are more than 60 and could be as old as 130 years old.”

“We knew the pier was in bad shape,” Bettencourt said, but he just discovered over the Independence Day holiday how serious that problem had become.

“While we hate to have any part of our pier closed off to the public, we understand it’s for the best to help keep people safe now, until the pier can be properly repaired,” he continued. “We’re also really hoping that some kind of immediate emergency repairs can be done so the pier can reopen before it’s rebuilt.”

Community members began a campaign Thursday to raise $100,000 or more that the county could use as a local match for possible grants to help rebuild the pier.

The group is seeking donations and selling T-shirts at a booth at the entrance to the pier through Sunday afternoon; it plans to launch other efforts soon.

For details, call County Parks at 781-5200 or go to www.slocountyparks.org.

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