Fishermen and strollers will have to do without the Venice Pier for awhile.
The 22-year-old pier has been shut down indefinitely because of structural problems. Larry Charness of the county Department of Beaches and Harbors said the 1,200-foot pier was closed on Tuesday after officials discovered that concrete was falling from the base.
"It looks like there's a rapid deterioration of at least one section," Charness said. "The section is underneath the pier, just at the water line."
Spotted by Plumber
Charness said the damaged section, 120 feet long, was spotted by a plumber fixing a pipe. The dozen or so people who were on the pier were told to leave as officials cordoned off the area and used bulldozers to build a temporary wall of sand around the structure.
A guard was also posted at the entrance, and officials erected a small sign that said "Closed for Safety Inspection."
The pier was last inspected about four months ago and no problems were found, Charness said. It was last repaired in 1983, when storms forced its closure for several months.
Officials have given no cause for the sudden problems, but Charness said county engineers will search for other signs of deterioration while they determine what repairs should be made.
The pier, near the foot of Washington Avenue, is usually a quiet place where grizzled fishermen gather with rusty tin buckets at dawn. It is popular with runners, and at sunset couples often stroll out to the end to watch the waves. Crowds appear only on weekends.
"There is a small concession shop at its western end," said Dick Gitlin, another spokesman for the beach department. "But it doesn't have any other tourist attractions."
Patrick McCartney, the president of the Venice Town Council, a community group, called the pier a local landmark. He said the wooden structure is one of the few serene spots along the oceanfront in Venice, an area best known for the carnival-like atmosphere of Ocean Front Walk.
McCartney said the pier will be missed.
"Venice has so few public facilities that we can't afford to lose any of them," McCartney said. "The pier is a charming walk. And it's a wholly different environment from the craziness of Ocean Front Walk."