Ventura Pier reopens after a year-and-a-half closure caused by storm damage

Ventura, CA - December 28: Ventura County fire helicopter patrols the coastline over heavy surf south of Ventura Pier on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023 in Ventura, CA. Most of the pier was closed due to the surf. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The Ventura Pier, seen on Dec. 28, 2023, was closed after being damaged by high surf. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Ventura's famous pier reopened Saturday after massive waves damaged the landmark last year.

Social media posts and news video footage showed people striding onto the pier early Saturday, carrying fishing poles, coolers and folding chairs. The pier — the oldest in California — is a popular fishing and sight-seeing spot and draws tourists, families and lovebirds.

"The Ventura Pier is open!" the city of Ventura announced on its X feed.

High surf from a winter storm pummeled the boardwalk in January 2023. In December, another storm swept through, causing more damage to the pier's piles and braces.

Mary Joyce Ivers, deputy public works director in Ventura, told KTLA that the city had to replace 37 timber piles, which hold up the deck of the pier, as well as 100 pieces of hardware and cross-bracing and 3,000 square feet of deck board.

“It’s such an important piece of our city,” Ivers told KTLA. “It’s such a great landmark and so many great things happen on this pier for families and our community.”

The repairs cost at least $3.3 million, with the federal government and the state expected to pick up the tab, according to a city news release.

The pier, first built in 1872 as a private commercial wharf, has been repaired or rebuilt countless times throughout its history. It closed in 1992 for 13 months after it was clobbered by waves and reopened after a $3.5-million restoration.

More recently, it closed in 2015 for several months for repairs after another storm.

Ventura purchased the pier for $7,000 in 1940 but gave it to the state in 1949.

In 1990, the city moved to take it back after state officials said they were considering demolishing the structure because of the high maintenance costs.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.