City officials comment on pier survey

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Workshops on use of the end of the pier to be held in the fall

The mayor would like to see a decision about the end of the Seal Beach Pier by the end of the year. A councilwoman said the decision about what to do with the end of the pier wouldn’t be an easy decision.

The Sun asked local officials for their comments on a recent social media survey of residents. As reported last week, an unscientific survey on two social media platforms asked the public what they wanted to see at the end of the pier.

The survey generated 319 comments from the public, of which 113 called for a restaurant at the end of the pier. (Another 12 participants called for the return of Ruby’s or a similar restaurant.) Fifty-seven comments favored food trucks. Sixteen comments clearly opposed food trucks. Thirty-seven comments favored “open space” or an “open deck.” Many of the survey participants expressed a desire to get rid of fishing on the pier.

“I’d like to see a decision on what to put at the end of the Pier by the end of the year,” said Mayor Tom Moore, who represents District Two on the council, in an email to the Sun.

“The City will be having town-hall meetings in the next few months to get feedback from the public. The Council looks forward to hearing these different ideas and it will be on an agenda towards the end of the year after the town-hall meetings,” Moore said.

“I’d like to hear from our City staff, in addition to the public, to see what does and does not make sense based on the structure of the Pier, how a storm could affect things, and other considerations that may bring up factors we currently are unaware of,” Moore said.

As for fishing on the pier, Moore said: “As you know, in 1983, the City embarked on the repair of the pier (due to a storm event) and did not have appropriate funds to fully repair it. The State allocated funds to the City for these repairs and as part of the agreement the City had to designate the pier as a “fishing pier.” The City agreed to an extension in 2007 with the agreement expiring in 2033.”

(For more on pier fishing, see Reporter’s Notebook on page 6.)

District Five Councilwoman Sandra Massa-Lavitt expressed a desire to hear everyone’s opinion about the pier, but opposed banning fishing.

“I read the comments, my first impression is … it won’t be an easy decision,” she said.

“The comments ranging from serious to whimsical are, nevertheless important to the final decision. I’m not surprised about the comments, what surprises me is that there were so few. As I have come to know our little City is populated by very vocal and opinionated people, I’m happy to talk to anyone who has an opinion about what occupies the end of the pier,” Massa-Lavitt said.

“As for the fishing issue I would not support limiting or banning fishing from the pier. Yes, they leave behind debris of their past time, and we all see it and know it. It’s a(n) inconvenience at the edges of the pier. I’m sorry to see that, but know that placing more or larger signs on the pier will not legislate or insure consideration for others,” Massa Lavitt said.

“The next few months will see all having opportunities to continue this discussion, with all of leading to a final decision,” Massa-Lavitt said.

District One Councilman Joe Kalmick wasn’t surprised by the survey. “The Sun’s survey responses were quite varied and represented an interesting sampling of ideas, but not that surprising,” Kalmick said.

“But we must keep in mind that though the pier is in Old Town, it represents all of the City’s residents, so the number of responses was not a particularly large sample,” Kalmick said.

“Now that the pier is once again open all the way to the end, we all have the opportunity to think about what we might like to see out there, whether it be an unobstructed view, a restaurant, or some other form of food service. And keep in mind that under the new state law, food cart vendors will likely be part of the mix,” Kalmick said.

“And with regard to fishing on the pier, as a result of an arrangement with the Department of Fish and Game, who provided needed funds when the pier was damaged by a storm in 1983, it was designated a fishing pier. This agreement was renewed in 2007 and runs until 2033. This means there is currently no ability to restrict fishing on the pier,” Kalmick said.

District Three Councilman Mike Varipapa wasn’t surprised by the results either. “I was not too surprised by the results in your article—I have been talking with & asking residents for quite some time about the end of the pier and they have been sharing similar thoughts. I am open to any/all ideas and look forward to hearing from the residents during our public input process,” Varipapa said.

As for the issue of fishing on the pier, he said that “I understand some residents’ frustration/objections to fishing on the pier but this is governed by the state.”

City Manager Jill Ingram said that “we appreciate the viewpoints of all residents, businesses, and the public, and we anticipate facilitating productive discussions with the Council and community at workshops that will be scheduled in the Fall. We look forward to hearing from the community on the future opportunities for the pier, and workshop dates will be formally announced once confirmed.”

City officials comment on pier survey