Pismo Beach approves $7.6 million pier renovation contracts

Built in 1928, the Pismo Pier is the 18th longest in the state and needs to have some of its pilings and boards replaced.
Built in 1928, the Pismo Pier is the 18th longest in the state and needs to have some of its pilings and boards replaced. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The Pismo Beach Pier is on its way to getting a $7.6 million renovation that will update and repair parts of the aging structure.

On Tuesday, the Pismo Beach City Council approved contracts with Cushman Contracting Corp. and Shoreline Engineering Inc. for the pier rehabilitation project. The council also examined a tentative timeline for when the repairs could take place so as not to interfere with the busy tourist season or large events like the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race, which is scheduled to start its third leg in Pismo Beach in May.

The Pismo Beach Pier is the 18th longest in California at 1,200 feet. (It used to be much longer, but an El Niño storm in 1983 washed out much of the structure, and it was rebuilt at its present length.)

A 2015 inspection found that several areas of the pier needed repairs, especially a handful of the wood and steel pilings that have eroded under the water. The planks between the second and third diamond-shaped platform sections of the pier also need to be replaced; they have not been changed since the pier was built in 1928.

“When all is said and done, we’ll have a new pier,” said Ben Fine, director of public works. “It’s really going to be a great asset to the community.”

In addition to those repairs, the city is considering updating the pier’s electrical systems so generators don’t have to be hauled in for special events held on the first diamond. And it’s considering installing a series of steel grates to act as vents to let out hot gas in the event of a pier fire. Also on the list of changes would be to move the pier gate — which is rolled out whenever high tides close the pier — to behind the first diamond so people can still walk to the first diamond when the pier is closed.

The city has also discussed adding some public art on the pier once repairs are completed, though exactly what sort of artwork that could be has not yet been decided.

One of the trickier aspects of the major project will be scheduling construction so that it doesn’t impact the traditionally busy summer season or events in which the pier plays a central role, like the Tour of California.

“The Amgen Tour of California would very much like to use the pier,” City Manager Jim Lewis said. “It was their most scenic start ever.” (In 2015 a leg of the race kicked off on the Pismo Pier.)

The council directed staff to look into delaying the start of construction until after the Fourth of July, as long as it was not markedly more expensive than starting immediately.

If it is more expensive to wait, construction could begin as soon as March, according to a city staff report, and would be completed in July 2019.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie