Avila Pier repairs estimated to cost $12.2 million

October 31, 2015


By John Lindt, publisher of Sierra2theSea

The Central Coast loves their iconic wooden piers as witnessed by the generous community support to repair the aged Cayucos pier scheduled to reopen in time for Halloween after two years of being closed. Through multiple sources including county funds, some $3.5 million was raised to do the repair replacing some 200 piles that supported the 900-foot pier built in 1872.

Now pier lovers may have to open their wallets again, and open them wide.

Fear that rough winter storms could also bring down the aging 1651 foot Avila Pier in Avila Bay prompted the Port San Luis Harbor District to close that pier earlier this summer after throngs of tourists crowded onto the pier to watch whales in Avila Bay this summer.

In late June, Steve McGrath, the former harbor master, said the pier would need to be evaluated for safety  – later estimating it might cost $1.1 million as a “rough estimate” for the repairs. He told the press the pier had been weakened  by“worm-like marine species that bore holes in the wood.”

This week, the harbor commission got a wake-up call on the cost after Shoreline Engineering reported the results of  an underwater structural evaluation that was done in September.

Facilities Manager for Port San Luis Loch Dreizler says a new estimate for the pier’s repair is over $12 million based on the cost of replacing more than 700 timber piles using the same ratio as the Cayucos pier where just 200 piles were replaced.

“Our board wanted to get a handle on just how much it would cost and this gives us a ballpark number,” Dreizler said. “It is a big number.”

The October 27 staff report says replacing “700 piles on the Avila Pier would cost approximately $12,250,000 without considering additional costs for working around the oil plume, or planning for potential retail space on the terminus.”

Dreizler says the harbor commission is not done with their study yet and will hire a geotechnical soils expert to assess the stability of the ground underneath the pier.

The pier was last inspected in 1998 with the latest Sept. 2015 engineering study concluding that the entire pier facility was near the end of its expected service life.”

The Avila Pier was constructed by the County of San Luis Obispo in 1908.  Not as well protected as the shorter, nearby Harford Pier, it has sustained major storm damage throughout the years but has been repaired after each event. In 1984, the State of California and San Luis Obispo County transferred ownership of Avila Beach, including the Avila Pier, to the Harbor District. The pier is said to be the 7th longest in the state.

If estimates are correct, a fund raising goal of more than three times what the Cayucos pier supporters undertook would be needed to do the repairs. The district may hire a PR firm if the decision to move forward is made.

With EL Nino storms expected to batter the coast this winter, the decision could be made for them. The structural study concluded that more than half the piles have damage considered “major or severe” and that the pier should not reopen until repairs are made.

In other Port San Luis news, the commission hired former city manager of Morro Bay Andrea Lueker to replace Steve McGrath on an interim basis at this weeks meeting. Lueker will take over as negotiations with Red Tail Acquisitions move forward on an expected agreement to build the long-awaited Harbor Terrace project.

In addition, the Port is looking forward to the opening of the new Dorn’s restaurant on the Harford Pier at years end to be called Mersea’s.


No wonder Steve McGrath is leaving. I wouldn’t want to deal with this at the end of my working life! This could go on for years with permits, EIRs, etc.

Rich in MB

Just put parking meters on the streets of Avila and we can raise the money from the Valley folks on weekends. Have you tried parking in Avila on the weekends….forgetaboutit….


$12.2 million/100 years=$120,000/yr, pretty insignificant, and what one would think the Harbor District exists to do. But no, all that money has been spent, to actually get the service you paid for is EXTRA!


If the area’s designation as a marine sanctuary is approved, it will cost double that amount.


Why should it cost that much more than the Cayucos Pier? Maybe they could use the money to build a drive-on breakwater to protect boats at Port Harford from winter storms that come from the south. There’s a good example of one in northern Sicily.

Since they no longer use the hoist to launch boats from the Avila pier, they should shorten it. The remenents of old “People Wharf” pilings are on the south side of the present Avila pier.


Steve said “told the press the pier had been weakened by“worm-like marine species that bore holes in the wood.”

So, what will the new pier be made of? More worm food?


Idiots. They should have never said a thing. El Nino will take it out and we could have said it was a natural disaster and claimed insurance or federal money. Now Avila will be on the hook for the whole deal.

Jorge Estrada

My guess would be $8 million for permissions and $4.2 million for time and materials.