Things are moving again at the Malibu Pier

The Malibu Pier is in play again.

The state of California, owners of the Malibu Pier, are in the early stages of deciding what they want to see on the Malibu Pier after it’s been rebuilt and they’re taking that decision process out for public input. There was a kickoff planning meeting July 7 with the Malibu Business Roundtable at City Hall. They’re also taking potential bidders for the pier repair contract through what they call a bid-walk this week, to give them a better idea of what the pier will need.

The funding also appears to be getting into line. The County of Los Angles will probably be putting in $2.9 million of Prop A Bond funds and the City of Malibu will be putting in $700,000 of their bond funds. Both the county and the city want, as a condition, a commitment from the state that they will maintain the pier, which would include setting up a trust fund of $95,000 per year for repair, in addition to regular maintenance. The proposal, along with the finalized details, should be going before the Board of Supervisors for a vote at their next meeting. To date the state has spent approximately $700,000 on repairs.

Hayden Sohm, a park ranger and Malibu sector superintendent for the Department of Parks and Recreation of the state of California, who has charge of the pier said there will be a meeting for public input in August and noted that the meeting date will be publicized.

The repair and rehabilitation of the pier was scheduled to be done in three phases, but Phase 1 was cut short by the state because the two partners who where joint venturing the project couldn’t get along with each other. The state finally stepped in and terminated them both. The project has been put out for rebid, and the state hopes to have a new contractor by early fall.

Phase 2 will include getting another contractor to complete the incomplete portion of Phase 1, and will also include completing the structural aspects of the pier and buildings, and deciding what concessions get to set up business on the pier. Phase 3 will be to build those concessions and finish the pier for its entire length. Construction is expected to resume in early October.

When completed, the building that once housed Alice’s Restaurant will be once again be a restaurant, though major structural repair work has to be done first. The building will have to be raised so that the support structure underneath can be repaired. The smaller building on the other side of the entrance, which housed the prep kitchen, will be torn down and rebuilt. Since the Malibu Pier is a historical structure, the look of the buildings can’t be changed and have to be replaced as they were before.

No decisions have been made as to what restaurant will be going in there, said Sohm. There is room on the pier for two restaurants, he said, indicating the one of the two structures at the seaward end of the pier could be a restaurant.

As far as what level of restaurants go out on the pier, Sohm was noncommittal.

“We would like to see a restaurant that is supportive of what we do in the state parks in Malibu,” Sohm explained. “Maybe a restaurant with a display of the history of Malibu.”

But nothing is carved in stone.

The public will have an opportunity to say what they would like to see on the pier and how they would like to see it developed, Sohm said.

Sohm said it is not true that there is any problem with parking. Once the parking lot is opened, it will have room for 100 cars.

However, there will not be a provision to park cars on the pier as with the pier in Santa Barbara.

We have it strong enough to take a fire truck, said Sohm, but don’t plan to have cars out on the pier.

As far as other amenities the pier may have, Sohm said it is possible that sport fishing boats may be brought back. Fishing off the Pier is permitted, and with 380 feet of the pier reopened, the pier is being used for that now. A fishing license is not needed to fish off the pier.

On the short length of the pier the day before the Fourth of July, those using the pier talked about what they thought should be the proper direction for the pier. Jose Irheta, 32, a native of El Salvador, was fishing for halibut and sand bass.

“I’ve been fishing off piers for four years,” he said, “and one thing this one lacks is a restaurant and bathrooms.”

He also said he would like to see a bait shop. As far as a restaurant, Irheta said he doesn’t care if it’s expensive, but he would like to see one on the pier itself.

Hector Holguin, a 72-year-old senior citizen, said, “I’d like to see Alice’s open again, or a restaurant like it. Something where dinner is about $12 and I could buy a drink or two.”

He said he’d also like to see sport fishing boats come back to the Malibu pier. Holguin, who is from Mission Hills, has been coming to the pier since 1941. A grandfather of five, he plans to have his ashes scattered from the pier. As far as what level of restaurant he’d like to see open, he’s a little more in favor of a fancier place.

“I don’t want to see graffiti on the pier,” he said, indicating that Santa Monica’s pier has gone to the dogs.

Greg Battitt, 25, of Northridge, was also fishing for halibut. A plumber, he said he has tried the Oxnard pier “but the crabs ate all my bait.”

Battitt said he would like to see a bait shop, and a cheap restaurant “a little above Jack in the Box,” or maybe a coffee shop.

Abdul R. Pasta, manager of Malibu Inn, said he looks forward to the re-opening of the pier to its full length.

“I remember the crowds we had on weekends when the pier was open,” he said. “The parking lot will be good for use”

Pasta said he doesn’t care if the restaurant on the pier is expensive or middle class.

“We will benefit as people will come and eat here too,” he said.

The pier is open 8 a.m. to sunset daily to pedestrian foot traffic only. It is anticipated that the pier will be open until early October when construction activity is planned to resume. Entrance to the pier is free, however, parking in the adjacent lot is $6 per day.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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