The saga of the humpbacked municipal pier seems to go on without end, if you ask public officials of Orange County's southernmost seaside community.
City Manager Jim Hendrickson said Friday that things at City Hall have been getting a little crazy since the bump in the pier was spotted.
First, there was the problem of what to do about the bump, the result of a surveying error on the part of the contractor, Long Beach-based Healy Tibbitts. Then the city treasurer withheld the $4,100 check for a second company that supplied the pier's inspector.
The council voted Wednesday to pay for the inspection work, after Ed Putz, the city engineer, told the council that San Clemente's agreement with Irvine-based Lowry and Associates, with which the city contracted for inspection of the project, did not require the company to check the pier's grade.
But the story doesn't end there.
On Thursday, Putz received a call from a San Clemente resident living on a hill overlooking the beach, claiming the 1,250-foot pier curved to the right. Putz paid a visit to the woman's home and to the pier, concluding afterward that there is a curve in the pier's midsection, which survived the storm that destroyed the rest of the structure.
The 1- to 2-degree bend, Putz said, is "very slight, but once pointed out is perceptible." It takes a little doing to notice the bend, too, he added. "You have to look straight down at the pier and from an elevation," Putz said. "You have to look a long way down the railing and be looking for it."
How the curve got there is a mystery, he said, adding that there is some speculation that the curve might have happened during the storm.
"Anything is possible when you're dealing with the ocean," he said.
Meanwhile, another report on the pier is being prepared for the city manager and a search is on for old photographs of the historic landmark to see if they reveal a curve. Although perhaps a bit unsightly, the bend poses no structural hazard, Putz said. "I wouldn't see us doing anything about it at all."
After hearing the report Wednesday, the council voted to pay Lowry and Associates' $4,100 bill. The council also voted to pay Healy Tibbitts all but 10% of its $750,000 fee and will hold the rest until 30 days after the bump is smoothed out.
Healy Tibbitts has agreed to correct the bulge at its own expense and will use a surveyor this time, Putz said. The corrections are scheduled to be finished in time for the pier's dedication June 22.