In the midst of Friday's fire on the Seal Beach pier, rumors and speculation swirled thicker than the smoke about what caused the fire.
More recently, the pier has been at the middle of a heated debate about the condition of the old Ruby's restaurant and the lack of public access around the end of the structure. At the October 2015 City Council meeting, Jim Basham, community development director, disclosed that “an assessment revealed significant damage."
The financial impact to fix the pier to accommodate a restaurant or any structure at its far end would cost the city between $3.4 million and $4.4 million. Because of damage to the pier, much of it caused by the remnants of Hurricane Marie in 2014, the city must spend $845,000 just to make mandatory structural and utility repairs to keep the pier viable, Basham said.
Recently District One Councilwoman, Ellery Deaton, directed the staff to begin preparations so that the end of the pier would be open to pedestrian traffic. While this appears more unlikely now than ever, the Seal Beach pier has a history of damage dating back to late 1930's, all of which the pier has recovered from.
In 1939, hurricane winds and huge breakers cut the pier in half. The rebuilt pier was again assaulted in 1983, when huge storm waves cresting beneath the pier lifted 1,140 feet of deck off its pilings literally cutting the structure in half.
The pier was such a part of the city's identity that it was rebuilt again with the help of private donations. The new pier was built of wood to preserve its historic look.
Fire damaged the Seal Beach pier in 1992 and 1994, but each time it was restored. Only time will tell how the pier will emerge from this fire, but one thing is for sure, the residents will make sure it comes back better than before.