By Joel Williams
Pismo Beach Pier — a popular spot for Cuesta students to sun and surf — will be closed for the most part of the next two years while the iconic tourist draw undergoes a several million dollar repair.
At 1,370 feet long, the pier is the 16th longest in the state, and creates a break few area surfers can resist.
Cuesta College student and avid Pismo surfer, Lucas Taylor has mixed feelings about the pier closing.
Taylor, who works at a local surf shop in Pismo Beach ,finds the renovations project problematic for a large surf competition that he and others are attempting to bring to Pismo Beach to improve participation in the surf community.
“If we had a big surf world league tournament that would help,” Taylor said. “[…] but with the pier being worked on, we’re going to have to push a little more to make that happen.”
Taylor said that while the locals and tourists may find the construction to be a burden, he believes it will be a positive for Pismo.
“I think it’ll be different and it’s for the better, but it’s going to be a long process,” Taylor said.
Earlier this year, the Pismo Beach City Council approved contracts with Cushman Contracting Corp. for construction on the 16th longest pier in the state.
The Pismo pier is expected to be closed for over two years and will be inaccessible to the public for much of that time. The pier is hoped to be completed in time for fireworks celebrations on the Fourth of July in 2019, according to Eric Eldridge, senior engineer for the city of Pismo Beach.
The construction is broken into phases characterized by how much of the pier is open to the public. The first phase will have a complete closure of the pier.
The following phases will have more soft openings with the first diamond, or platform of the pier, expected to be partially open to the public by July 4 of this year, according to Eldridge.
The pier is a popular spot for students, locals and tourists in a city that draws near a million visitors each year, according to city officials; its closure may cause some to be upset.
With the pier being down, some events will immediately change for Pismo. Farmer’s Market on the pier has now been changed to now take place at a new location on Highway One.
Surfers, who tend to hit close to the pier when they surf, may have to move their favorite surf spots with the coming construction as well. City officials hope to minimize the effects of the construction on the public while still properly updating an iconic pier.
“The city is looking to preserve the classic California feel of a wooden fishing pier with modern updated amenities,” Eldridge said.
Pismo Beach holds a “classic California” history; known as the “Clam Capital of the World”, popular for surfing spots, and even featured in a Bugs Bunny cartoon where the famed rabbit made a journey to Pismo Beach, but forgot to turn left at Albuquerque.
Even so, some locals believe the construction will cause an eyesore for locals and tourists coming through the area and will cost a hefty amount to the city.
This project to preserve the pier has been in planning since a 2015 inspection of the pier found several areas needing repairs, including wood and steel pilings which have been disintegrating below the water.
Planks of the pier need to be replaced as well, as some have not been replaced since the original construction in 1924, making some about 93 years-old.
More improvements for the pier also include updates to the benches, trash cans and overhead lights. Public art ideas are being considered by the city council like sculptures, mosaics and “kinetic wind art”, according to Eldridge.
Construction on the pier began on March 14, with a commencement ceremony held by the Pismo Beach City Council.
The project was originally planned to begin after July 4 of this year, but was pushed forward to March due to the project costing significantly less if started sooner, Eldridge says.
Jesse Caleya, a Los Osos mailman and occasional pier-fisherman enjoys coming to Pismo pier for the entertainment it offers. He believes that the money spent on the pier may be too much.
“Definitely the money could be used in other ways,” Caleya said.
Regardless of the cost, he believes the appeal of the pier will improve because of the construction.
“It’s pretty popular,” Caleya said. “I think once it reopens, it’ll bring even more people depending on how construction goes.”