OCEANSIDE — As the city studies potential improvements to Oceanside Pier, some regular visitors want to see changes made to a ramp connecting the historic landmark to a popular beachfront street below to improve pedestrian safety.
For nearly 100 years, a concrete installation connects the wooden pier to Pacific Street with a paved ramp emptying out onto The Strand.
But Valley Center resident Robert Cording, who visits Oceanside Pier nearly every Sunday, wants to see the ramp redesigned so that it isn’t so steep. Cording said the ramp’s slope has attracted skateboarders who fly down the ramp at high speeds where pedestrians frequent near the front of Tin Fish Restaurant.
Cording said there have been several occasions where he has observed skateboarders using the ramp in a dangerous fashion and nearly colliding with unsuspecting passersby.
“They don’t think about the fact that they could hit someone,” Cording said.
Beyond skateboarders, Cording said he has also seen young children and elderly residents struggle to climb the steep ramp. Bicycles are also risky on the ramp, Cording said.
Cording suggested the city reconstruct the ramp by doubling its length, reducing the grade percentage by half and veering the ramp left or right instead of straight down.
History of the ramp
City Engineer Brian Thomas said the ramp, along with the pier’s cement portion, was first built in 1927.
“The ramp was constructed, we believe, as an access point to The Strand for on-beach parking at that time,” Thomas said via email.
In 2015, public vehicle access was restricted due to the concrete structure’s weakening condition. Now, only emergency and maintenance vehicles are allowed to drive on the ramp.
A replacement and rehabilitation study is currently underway to improve the pier and is running concurrently but separately from the city’s second phase of its Beachfront Improvement Project. According to Thomas, the city’s focus is to keep the historic look of the pier’s concrete portion while also extending its life expectancy.
The pier’s new design will include additional ADA features, such as switch-back ramps from Pacific Street to The Strand and a possible elevator.
Public outreach meetings are currently ongoing for both the pier improvement study and the beachfront improvement projects.
Thomas said city staff is currently investigating ways to curtail skateboarders’ use of the ramp. There is currently signage prohibiting skateboarding down all ramps attached to the pier’s concrete portion.
While making the ramp longer could help, Thomas said such a change would alter the pier’s historic look and would not be meant for pedestrian access or use.
“This is, however, an option we can open for discussion at the public meetings,” he noted.