Phase II of Malibu Pier Repairs to Begin This Week

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Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner surfs near the Malibu Pier on “Big Wednesday,” Aug. 27, 2014, to clear broken pilings away from the pier and prevent further — feared to be fatal — damage to the historic structure.

Phase II of the project to replace damaged pier pilings and shore up others weakened by Hurricane Marie in August 2014 should be commencing this week. Craig Sap, California State Parks Angeles District Superintendent, confirmed the process would begin before the month is out.

“We did our pre-construction walk-throughs earlier this week with the contractor, Malibu Pier Partners and LA County,” Sap said. 

“Temporary fencing will go up at the end of the parking lot, then the materials and equipment will be brought in, then the manpower,” Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner, city council member and Malibu Pier Partner explained. “As soon as you see the pilings, that’s when the real work will start.

“You should see the fencing by the end of December, and in January the workers will begin. They hope to have the project finished before the [beginning of the summer season],” he added.

Phase I of the repairs focused on the mid-section of the pier, and took place in the final months of 2015 on an emergency basis — prior to the anticipated start of an El Niño weather pattern that never materialized. 

Phase II of the repairs will focus on the end of the pier, but are designed to minimize the effects of ongoing work. 

“The end of the pier will be kept open as long as possible, and at least half of the pier will be kept open at all times,” Sap explained. “We’ll be getting at the pilings that are under the buildings at the end of the pier.”

Part of the parking lot for the pier will be fenced off during construction, but they hope to keep at least three-quarters of it open. “The fenced area will expand and contract as needed, and be removed on weekends,” Sap said. 

In 2015, the state set aside $4.6 million to fix all of the damage done to the pier by Hurricane Marie, which included replacing at least 59 pilings. The current Phase II portion of the project uses up the remaining $2 million of that money, according to Wagner. 

Wagner also explained that damaged pilings left in place can pose a threat not only to the pier, but to nearby homes on the beach. “If one of those damaged pilings breaks away but stays in the [wave] impact zone, it will keep crashing into the other pier pilings and damage them. It could also end up under someone’s home and destroy their pilings. Wrecking private property is what I worry about.”

The day on which most of the Hurricane Marie damage occurred, Aug. 27, 2014, is a day that still lives on in infamy among the local surfing community. Locals still refer to it as “Big Wednesday,” as wave after massive wave reached the top of the Malibu Pier.

Surfers described the southeast swell as “epic” and “the perfect storm.” Locals said they hadn’t seen surf like that in more than 20 years. Twelve- to 18-foot waves brought pro surfers and thrill-seekers to Surfrider and Zuma beaches, including locals Laird Hamilton and Allen Sarlo.

On that day, Hamilton made the news twice — once for “shooting the pier” twice and again for swimming out to help rescue a distressed surfer.