What would Cayucos be without its iconic pier?
Cayucos pier-lovers don’t want to know the answer. They’re trying to raise $100,000 to kick-start a $2 million-plus rehabilitation project for the town’s aging structure before a big winter storm takes it out or the county finds it must close all or part of the 953-foot-long wooden structure built in the 1880s.
Views from the pier, especially from the exceptionally rickety far end, are spectacular.
The pier “is absolutely the heart and icon of that community,” said Curtis Black, deputy director of San Luis Obispo County Parks. “We know the pier is in declining condition, that each year more pilings are lost. We know the pier has to be reconstructed, or we’ll lose it.”
An informal Cayucos Pier Project group of community organizations and individuals will publicly launch its fundraising campaign today, hoping to catch the attention of Fourth of July weekend visitors, according to Greg Bettencourt, one of those involved.
Participants represent a wide range of interests in the community of about 3,000 residents, including the Cayucos Lions, Lioness and Rotary clubs, chamber of commerce, senior citizens group, garden club and tourism board.
The state owns the pier, but the county maintains and manages it under a cooperative contract that also includes the Morro Bay Golf Course, Montaña de Oro State Park, Cayucos beaches and other facilities.
In 2009, County Parks hired Shoreline Engineering of Morro Bay, which has experience in pier, lighthouse, dock and other marine-related issues, to inspect the pier and prepare a report on it, Bettencourt said.
Using divers and a small boat in calm water, the engineers took close-up photos of areas where 14 pilings are missing; others are no longer attached or have been hollowed out by erosion — a metal measuring tape could be stuck 8 to 10 inches into one piling, for instance. Various hazards could bring the pier down under the wrong conditions, he said.
The pier has 61 rows of pilings, Bettencourt said, most of which are supposed to have four pilings arranged in groupings called “bents.”
Some bents have only two pilings remaining, he said. “If they were to lose another, it could mean that part of the pier would collapse, and the pier would have to be closed until it could be fixed.”
“There’s a very real possibility the pier may be partially or completely closed before we have all the money together to do the job,” Black warned.
The cost of reconstruction was estimated to be $2.14 million, according to Shoreline Engineering’s project estimate in August 2012.
The pier is in pretty good shape from its start to the tidal zone, Black said, and in OK shape from there to about two-thirds of the way out. But the rest of the pier, in the heavy-surf area, inspires much less confidence, with a number of pilings missing and many others seriously damaged or no longer attached to the deck.
Shoreline Engineering’s 134-page report, available at www.savecayucospier.org, helped put the pier repairs into the top five park-maintenance projects in the county, which Black brought to the attention of county supervisors March 27. The supervisors unanimously approved spending $103,000 for further structural inspections, engineering and construction documents.
Black expects those studies to be completed by late fall. In the meantime, community volunteers will continue to schedule fundraising events and drum up support to help save the pier that residents and visitors alike consider the symbol of Cayucos.
To help save the pier:
From July 4 through Sunday, you’ll find Cayucos Pier Project volunteers in a fundraising booth at the entrance to the pier near the Cayucos Veterans Memorial Lions Hall, 10 Cayucos Drive. Donations are tax deductible and will act as a local match to get state and federal grants to rebuild the aging wooden pier. T-shirts and other items will also be for sale.
For details, go to www.savecayucospier.org.