Pismo Beach’s ‘stairway to nowhere’ is temporarily dismantled

With no bridge from the clifftop, the staircase is now only accessible from the water.
With no bridge from the clifftop, the staircase is now only accessible from the water. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

The landmark “stairway to nowhere” in Pismo Beach is being temporarily dismantled as a local hotel group drafts a proposal on how to strengthen the aging structure and reconnect it to the nearby clifftop.

Construction is underway on the stairway to remove the steel staircase but not the concrete core, said Michael Draze, the city’s interim community development director.

“This decision was made based on a report prepared by their engineer that identified excessive stress on the old core from the weight of the steel stairs that could make the entire structure collapse,” he said in an email.

The giant spiral stairway is a popular, though relatively inaccessible, destination for locals. It is no longer accessible from the top of the cliff because the bridge connecting the structure to the land behind Ventana Grill was removed for safety reasons. Now the only way to reach it is by water, whether by swimming or kayaking.

In February, Martin Resorts, which owns Ventana Grill, proposed repairing the structure by replacing the existing stairs while keeping the central core, and adding a new pedestrian bridge from the restaurant to the top of the spiral staircase. The city Planning Commission was expected to consider approving a permit for the project in March, but the item was put on hold indefinitely.

Martin Resorts contacted the city planning department in October to obtain a permit to remove the stairs while it prepares a proposal to strengthen the structure and replace the stairway, Draze said.

That proposal will have to go before the Planning Commission for approval, but Draze said a date has not yet been set for it.

Representatives of Martin Resorts were unavailable for comment Friday.

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie