Engineering report for Cayucos Pier expected next week

Engineering firm has studied the pier and will share its findings with county next week

ktanner@thetribunenews.comSeptember 27, 2013 

Will repairs be enough, or does the Cayucos Pier need a complete rebuilding? County officials expect to get closer to finding an answer next week when they get a report from Shoreline Engineering on recent studies done of the pier above and below the waterline, according to Machelle Vieux, deputy director of county General Services, and Curtis Black, deputy director of parks.

A dozen missing support columns as well as broken, damaged or wobbly “bents” (tight groupings of two or more columns) contributed to instability that prompted the county to fence off access to the seaward third of the pier on July 5.

“Our goal is to repair as much as possible before the winter storms arrive,” Vieux said. That will requires speedy work on design and construction plans, permits and finding $1 million or more to pay for it all.

The pier was built in 1872 by Capt. James Cass, according to the Cayucos Pier Project website (, and rebuilt and lengthened in 1876.

Waves, tides and time all have taken their toll on the pier, former Navy Seabee Vieux said. But the underwater studies will show “how much damage has been done by marine life, such as mussels and algae … that have burrowed holes in the timber and hollowed out the piers.”

She noted that the degradation has increased dramatically in recent years. “We had five missing piles in 2009,” and that number has more than doubled since then.

The state owns the pier, but the county is responsible for its operation and maintenance.

Pending completion of Shoreline’s underwater report, county officials said earlier this week, it seems that some intensive repairs, replacement of missing or damaged parts and addition of “batter piles” (bracing piles mounted at an angle) should be sufficient to reopen the pier.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson has been pushing to get repairs done soon and is seeking grants and other funding. “We have received encouraging word from a couple of state agencies and I'm trying to get the county funds lined up,” he said in an email Thursday. “I hope that soon we can announce a plan to not only fix the current problems but ensure the long-term maintenance of the pier. I don't want to see it get to this state again.”

If all the county supervisors agree, county park-project reserve funds could provide some funding, Black said, and the rest likely would be from grants, most of which require a local match.


The Cayucos Pier Project nonprofit group has already surpassed its fundraising goal of $100,000 for use as a local match for grants.

Committee member Greg Bettencourt called pier support “friggin’ incredible,” saying:

• 47 percent of donations have come from individuals outside San Luis Obispo County, including from 16 states other than California;

• 31 percent of gifts from individual donors have been from Cayucos; and

• 20 percent came from other county residents.

Among local donors is 28-year-old Eric Donnelly, a cook and cashier at Ruddell’s Smokehouse in Cayucos. Donnelly, a Cayucos resident raised in Morro Bay — who said he loves the pier even though he doesn’t surf or even swim very well — has been “saving my quarters” from his tip jar.

So far, Donnelly has donated $500 to the pier fund, and is working toward a second donation of the same amount. He said he considers it appropriate that “the tourists, unbeknownst to them, are donating to the pier through me. It’s pretty awesome.”

Pier group

The Cayucos Pier Project will place bronze plaques on planks and pilings for donors. For details, go to

A fundraising jazz brunch is set for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 6 at Café Della Via in Cayucos. Tickets are $45; call 995-1943.

Cayucos resident Sandi Ford is collecting pier memories — whether proposals, weddings, memorials or just teaching a child to fish — in hopes of making them into a book. Send stories to her at, post to her Facebook page or mail to her at P.O. Box 618, Cayucos CA 93430.

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