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.
Phase 1 enhancements completed in 2021 included:
- 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.
Phase 2 improvements include:
- An artistic shade canopy in a shark and water design over the pier extension at mid-pier just across from the public restrooms.
- Wood railing around the old boat loading ramp area near the Tin Fish Restaurant replaced with stainless steel cable railing for improved ocean and beach views.
- Surf destination arrows added on the railing at the end of the pier marking the distance and direction to legendary surf spots Mavericks and the Banzai Pipeline.
- Artistically designed activity placards installed along the railings. These 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):
- Historical marker added near the Tin Fish Restaurant that tells the story of the IB Pier with vintage photographs, words, and graphics.
- Distance markers added 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.
The Port budgeted nearly $2 million for Phase 2, which included just over $650,000 in funding from the Port’s Economic Recovery Program. The rest was budgeted under the Port’s Capital Improvement Program.
The Board of Port Commissioners awarded a construction contract to L.A. Design Group-WLA.
Pier Repairs & Phase 3
In August 2023, the Board of Port Commissioners approved $3 million for Phase 3 improvements. The project over the sandy beach area of the pier will include the installation of a new pier deck extension, a shade canopy with a surfboard design, structural support, additional lighting, and utility improvements.
Work on Phase 3 is expected to begin in Summer 2024.
In addition to the Phase 3 improvements, the Board approved a $1.5 million repair contract at its October 2023 meeting. This project will enhance the safety, functionality, and longevity of the pier’s infrastructure. The key components include the replacement of two piles, retrofitting utility line support systems, routine maintenance, repairs to utility lines and conduits, rewiring lighting and electrical panels, corrosion removal and coating, and architectural work for enclosure and protection of the electrical room.
The scheduled dates for the repair work will be determined by the contractor at a later time. The work will require temporary closure of the pier for up to a maximum of 14 days. Per California Coastal Commission requirements, the closures may only occur during the work week and the pier must reopen on weekends. Dates for the closure will be announced once they are determined by the contractor.
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.