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County's Piers Are No Match for the Elements

July 16, 1990|JAMES M. GOMEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The past decade has not been kind to Orange County's piers.

The now-abandoned Huntington Beach Pier stands as a testament to the destructiveness of several storms in the 1980s that mercilessly battered those sturdy platforms of wood, cement and steel that stretch into the Pacific.

During a pounding by 30-foot waves two years ago, a 250-foot portion of the concrete pier was torn off and the rest so badly weakened that it was closed. The pier will finally be dismantled in the fall.

The 1988 storm also inflicted damage on the Newport Beach, Balboa and San Clemente piers, but not enough to close them.

In 1986, storm damage forced the temporary closure of the Seal Beach and Huntington Beach piers for repairs.

And three years earlier, a fierce storm caused major damage to the Huntington Beach, San Clemente and Seal Beach piers, tearing off portions of the platforms and uprooting the deep pilings. All three were closed months for repairs.

Huntington Beach plans to build a new pier that should be open to the public in 1992. "If we do it right, it should last us 100 years," Deputy City Administrator Jim Palin said.

In truth, none of the county's piers have lasted anywhere near 100 years.

Each pier has undergone extensive repairs and piling and platform replacements over the years. In fact, city officials say that there are no original materials left on any of the piers except Aliso Pier, which was built in 1972.

And even Aliso Pier was closed all of last year for renovation.

"Piers are much like the human body, where all the cells die and are replaced within seven years," San Clemente Marine Safety Capt. Lynn Hughes said.

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