The deteriorating Venice Pier, closed nearly two years ago, may be saved from demolition, thanks to public support at a city hearing last week.
A boisterous crowd of about 150 people, gathered late last week at the Westminster School auditorium in Venice, said the 24-year-old pier should be saved, or, if it is beyond repair, replaced.
"The pier is a metaphor for our survival," said one resident.
Joel Breitbart, assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department, said an engineering study will be performed to determine the extent of damage to the 1,200-foot-long, reinforced concrete-and-steel pier. He said the study will also look at the costs of repairing or replacing the pier.
Breitbart said results of the study, which is expected to cost between $60,000 and $100,000, are expected in about a year. The cost of the study will be split by the state Coastal Conservancy, which helps pay for coastal programs, and the city Recreation and Parks Department. Breitbart said the city's share will come from $500,000 that has already been approved in its budget for demolition of the pier.
The county, which then owned Venice Pier, closed it in November, 1986, after pieces of concrete fell off. County inspectors discovered that salt water was corroding the steel frame, and the rusted steel was expanding, causing the concrete to break.
The city took over the pier last year, and its inspectors also concluded that the pier should be demolished, Breitbart said.
However, as word spread of the pier's pending fate, some residents and Venice business operators called the city to complain. City officials decided to postpone demolition until they could determine whether the community was interested in saving the pier, and if it is saved or replaced, whether it should be in the same configuration.
Breitbart got his answers last week.
"I wasn't satisfied until tonight that there was sufficient interest to save the pier," Breitbart told the audience at the hearing. "We should go ahead with the study and find out where we stand."
The audience applauded and cheered his announcement.
Members of the audience also seemed to agree that the pier should remain a fishing pier with the only commercial interests being fishing-related businesses. There was some division among the group over the shape of the pier, with some saying it should stay as it is--a single leg jutting into the water and others saying a T-shaped pier would be better.
There was unanimity, however, on saving the pier.
"Obviously we are delighted," said Frank Maddocks, a Venice resident who formed a community group called Pier Pressure to save the pier. "(Officials) closed it down without any public notice. They were under the impression that nobody in the community cared because nobody contacted the city. Well, now they know we care."