Imperial Beach Pier Enhancements
The Imperial Beach Pier is a regional attraction and widely recognized landmark for the City of Imperial Beach and Port of San Diego, and is a key part of the city’s downtown and economic vitality, which has gone through a revitalization with a new hotel, restaurants, and retail.
The Port of San Diego and City of Imperial Beach are making a series of improvements to the iconic Imperial Beach Pier to activate and beautify it. The goal of these enhancements is to encourage people to come explore and enjoy the pier, experience its ocean and fresh air amenities, sights, and pleasures, and partake of the many services and offerings of the nearby oceanfront restaurants and businesses.
The pier already looks more refreshed and welcoming thanks to enhancements completed in 2021, including:
- New paint in brighter colors on the railings and the pier’s three structures – the Tin Fish Restaurant, the Lifeguard Tower, and the public restrooms. The light and bold blues were chosen to reflect the city’s unique Southern California vibe.
- Destination-themed murals and graphics on each of the structures that reflect Imperial Beach as an iconic destination and celebrate the pier as being located at the most southwesterly point of the Continental United States.
- 30 new stainless steel fishing rod holders.
- External repairs made to the pier’s three structures.
Work is underway and is anticipated to be completed in fall 2023. The pier will remain open.
- Adding an artistic shade canopy in a shark and water design over the pier extension at mid-pier just across from the public restrooms (see renderings at left and below).
- Replacing the existing wood railing around the old boat loading ramp area near the Tin Fish Restaurant with stainless steel cable railing for improved ocean and beach views.
- Installing artistically designed activity placards along the railings. These will display different fun sayings or slogans associated with types of activities to be enjoyed on or near the pier – fishing, surfing, lounging, and beaching. Examples include:
- Good Things Come to Those Who Bait
- Enjoy Life One Wave at a Time
- Life at Ease with an Ocean Breeze
- High Tides and Good Vibes
Phase 2 (continued):
- Adding a historical marker or plaque near the Tin Fish Restaurant that tells the story of the IB Pier with vintage photographs, words, and graphics.
- Adding distance markers every 250 feet to mark the distance to the end of the pier and encourage guests to walk the entire length of the nearly 1,500-foot pier.
- Placing surf destination arrows on the railing at the end of the pier marking the distance and direction to legendary surf spots Mavericks and the Banzai Pipeline.
The Port has budgeted nearly $2 million for Phase 2, which includes just over $650,000 in funding from the Port’s Economic Recovery Program. The rest is budgeted under the Port’s Capital Improvement Program.
The Board of Port Commissioners awarded a construction contract to L.A. Design Group-WLA on October 11, 2022.
Future improvements being considered include additional deck extensions with modern cable railings and a shade canopy with a surf board design over the sandy beach area (see rendering).
Future phases may include more complex enhancements that require design development, environmental review, permitting and construction.
The Port held a public pier enhancements workshop in 2017 at which members of the community suggested a variety of ways to activate and enhance the pier to attract new visitors, create a more balanced user experience and connect people with the ocean. Some of those ideas have been and are being incorporated and others are being further explored for potential future phases.
Additionally, the fishing rod holders were custom-designed specifically for the IB Pier – the Port even pre-tested prototypes with local fisherman for over six months to validate the design before production models were ordered.
Port Projects in Imperial Beach
The Port has funded many projects in Imperial Beach, including public artworks at several beachfront street ends off Seacoast Drive and at Dunes Park, the iconic “Surfhenge” arches and surfboard benches at Portwood Pier Plaza, and the artistic fencing along Palm Avenue at Pond 20.
Historical IB Pier Facts
- The Imperial Beach Pier was first constructed in the 1960s.
- It was later destroyed by a storm and rebuilt in the 1980s.
- In 2006, the Port of San Diego performed a major upgrade to the pier.
- In 2014, the Port completed a project that replaced nearly 1,500 of the pier’s planks.