Is a closed O.B. Pier such a bad thing?

The original story was published in the print edition of the San Diego Reader in March of 2023.

San Diego lifeguards locked up the partly damaged Ocean Beach Pier due to safety concerns when the January waves destroyed its railing. Now, locals say, people keep cutting the locks and opening the gates leading into the pier.

“This is the fourth time this has happened,” local Jim Grant said. “Not exactly sure what the motive is or end game.” Grant, a renowned beach photographer, walked up to the cement pier’s opened wrought iron gate about 7 am on February 24 and noticed nearly a dozen people walking along the almost 2,000-foot pier. The people likely didn’t know the circa 1966 pier was off limits, as the pier was damaged by heavy rain, wind, and high surf in December and January. “Out of caution, it will remain closed throughout the stormy season and be assessed for reopening following the wet weather,” reads a recent memo by the City of San Diego.

Grant was there that Friday morning checking on his buddy’s now-closed restaurant on the pier, Walking On Water Cafe. “No damage other than two big turds on the pier,” he said. And luckily, nobody fell off the pier where the rails had collapsed.

While many locals say that these are the pier’s last days, Grant hopes by Memorial Day, the structure will reopen. “By all indications, repairs have been looked at, evaluated, and bid,” he said to me in a recent interview. “They are waiting for a good window of weather.”

But Joe Gonzalez thinks “The City should repair the railings asap and reopen the pier. If there were a real problem with structural damage, then surfers would be kept away from the underside.”

Brave surfers are known to “shoot the pier,” where surfers navigate through the pier’s cement piles.

Renne, who frequents the pier, added that old-school surfers say before the wharf was completed in 1966, “that whole area south of the pier was covered in sand, and there was a long left that came off that point into the beach. The pier created a current that sweeps the sand out, and that’s why it’s so rocky.” As many other surfers think, if the pier gets demo-ed, “the surf will get even better,” Renne continued. “But it’ll depend if they take down the pier. My guess is if it’s being condemned, they will take it down.”

Other surfers, the “locals only” types, hope that if the pier remains shut down, it’ll deter the tourists from taking their waves.

“Bruddah, TikTok kooks coming in with their GoPros, tbh, need to go elsewhere,” commented Edward S., a local bodyboarder. “Since they closed down the pier, it seems like fewer kooks are coming around, which is a good thing, in my honest opinion.”