Emergency repairs to Cayucos Pier approved by Coastal Commission

Repairs will stabilize the aging pier until permanent fixes can be done

ktanner@thetribunenews.comOctober 10, 2013 

The Cayucos Pier is in need of repair. Beneath the woman in the green dress, the pier sags where pilings are missing. A pigeon can be seen standing atop a piling that should be topped with a beam.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Work to stabilize the aging, rickety Cayucos Pier for the winter can begin as soon as November, the California Coastal Commission affirmed Thursday.

The temporary additions, which can only be made above the waterline under the commission’s agreement, are designed to keep the iconic pier intact through winter storms, rough seas, high winds and shifting tides.

Charles Lester, the commission’s executive director, had authorized waiving a requirement that the county to go through the lengthy process of getting a coastal development permit for the temporary work. But that waiver, granted because of the urgent need to do the work quickly, wasn’t final until the commission concurred Thursday in San Diego.

County supervisors are expected to consider Oct. 22 whether to use more than $500,000 in park project reserves and contingency funds for the pier’s interim fix, Supervisor Bruce Gibson said Thursday.

Curtis Black, deputy director of county parks, said the work is crucial “to make sure the pier stays there through the winter” so there’s a structure left to fix next spring. The work’s start date would depend on material availability and weather, he said.

Gibson said the Coastal Commission will require a full coastal development permit before complete restoration of the pier can begin. Black estimated it could take three or four more months to get that permit.

“That’s too long to risk letting the pier go through the winter unreinforced,” Gibson said.

Officials closed some of the pier July 5 after determining that the structure wasn’t safe because some supports are missing and others are in substantially unstable condition. The seaward two-thirds of the pier is closed now, Gibson said, and after the stabilizing is complete, even more likely would be closed to the public.

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

The Pier Project is a grass-roots campaign to raise $100,000 for the county to use as matching funds for grants, plus additional money to be held in a community-controlled fund for future upkeep and improvements.

Although the state owns the pier, the county is responsible for maintenance because of a cooperative contract between the two governmental entities. Some pilings are missing from the pier, and repairs are sorely needed. Long-deferred maintenance has resulted in a partial closure.

Gibson pledged to keep working with various agencies and the community on full restoration of the pier and “a permanent means of paying for ongoing maintenance so this doesn’t ever happen again.”

Black described the temporary additions as a series of steel braces, placed longitudinally on top of the pier and supported by wooden cross bracing, also atop the pier deck. He said the bracing would provide support “side to side and forward and back from the tidal zone to the seaward end of the pier.”

The Coastal Commission’s description of the work also included “repair or replacement of pile caps and removal of remnants of the previous boat landing stairway.”

The full restoration job, above and below the water line, will require “replacing upwards of 50 or more pilings,” Black said. “A number of them are in real bad shape,” according to a report submitted recently to the county by Shoreline Engineering.

Black said that project would include driving piles into the ocean floor, adding permanent connections between the pilings, cross-bracing under the pier, T-straps and angled batter pilings that splay out from the bottom of the pier’s deck into the ocean floor.

After the restoration is complete, the pier “absolutely would be stronger than it’s ever been,” Black said. “But first, we need to get it stabilized.”

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