New Plans Financially and Aesthetically 'More Reasonable' : Santa Monica Studies Cheaper Pier Restoration

Times Staff Writer

Two years after large chunks of the Santa Monica Pier were torn away by storms, Santa Monica has scrapped two expensive restoration plans that critics described as grandiose, financially unfeasible and aesthetically inappropriate.

In their place are two new proposals that would cost either $10.2 million or $11.3 million, down from the estimated minimum of $15 million with either of the old plans.

The new plans would cost more than the $6 million to $7 million in federal and state funds committed to the restoration project, but city officials are optimistic that a combination of city money and funding from additional government sources can be found to rebuild the 76-year-old structure.

Councilman Herbert Katz Jr. described the new plans as a "lot more reasonable" both financially and aesthetically.

'Money Is Out There'

"We don't know where we will get all the bucks needed to restore the pier," Katz said. "But I think the money is out there. I believe we are a lot closer to coming up with a suitable restoration plan."

The plans will be reviewed by the public at 10 a.m. Saturday in City Hall, 1685 Main St. The meeting is sponsored by the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp., a private group set up by the City Council to develop restoration plans.

The $10.2-million plan would reconstruct in concrete 400 feet of the seaward end of the pier lost in 1983 storms, reconstruct in wood and strengthen the 40,000 square feet lost on the commercial portion of the pier, and erect a 1,200-foot-long breakwater rising six feet above the waterline to protect the pier from storms.

The second plan would replace all lost portions of the pier in concrete. Concrete also would replace portions of the wooden pier west of Sinbad's Restaurant. There would be no construction of a breakwater.

Reconstructing large parts of the pier in concrete represents a major change from previous plans favored by city officials. Mayor Christine E. Reed, who was adamantly in favor of reconstructing the pier entirely in wood, has changed her mind.

'Reality' Prevails

"Although I have not seen the plans," Reed said, "I have become reconciled to using concrete. I was romantically and emotionally attached to wood. But reality has pushed me to modify my position. Concrete reconstruction will make for a stronger pier, without the necessity of building either a huge breakwater or a concrete apron in front of the pier."

The plans were developed by the consulting firm of Daniel, Mann, Johnson & Mendenhall, which also designed the two plans no longer under consideration.

The first two plans featured either a breakwater that rose 15 feet above the water or a 540-foot concrete promenade in front of a pier, fully restored in wood, as protection against storms.

The plans received little support and were privately derided as either too expensive, too grandiose or too much of a change from the original configuration of the pier.

Gail Markens, executive director of the Santa Monica Pier Restoration Corp., conceded that "no one was happy with the plans" but absolved the consulting firm of responsibility for the unhappiness.

"The firm was told to develop plans for restoration that . . . would allow the pier to withstand the most severe possible storm," she said. "The firm followed instructions. Now we are moving in a different direction."

'More Realistic' Position

Katz, City Council liaison with the corporation, said the city probably had to get a look at the expensive proposals before less costly plans could be developed.

"The pier had just been hit by the worst storm in 100 years," he said. "Your first instinct is to protect it from another one. We now are in a position to be more realistic. We are playing with odds on the risks, but at least we . . . know it."

Markens said that the Pier Restoration Corp. hopes to present proposals on reconstruction to the City Council in April. Katz said he doubts that the council will take action on them before the city budget is adopted in June.

The city is aiming for reconstruction next spring.

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