News & Advocacy

Pier Bridge Proposals Raise Preservation Concerns

May 29, 2018

The “Pier Bridge” is the structure that connects Colorado Avenue to the Pier. It needs structural strengthening, improved access for the disabled and modifications to accommodate the ever-increasing number of pedestrians visiting the Pier.  A Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the replacement of the bridge was released earlier this year and has created serious concerns among members of the preservation community.  Three proposals were described in the DEIR– two of which (nearly) double the width of the existing bridge, and one which creates a second bridge for cars only to the south at Moss Avenue.

The Conservancy’s comments on the DEIR stated that these proposals have unacceptably negative impacts on the nearby historic structures, including the Pier itself, the carousel building (known formally as the Looff Hippodrome, a National Historic Landmark), and the locally-designated landmark properties along the east side of Ocean Front Walk. The DEIR also failed to consider reasonable alternatives, such as the rehabilitation of the existing bridge and/or the elimination of parking on the Pier deck.

In addition, based on the research we have done to support our position, we have come to understand the significance of Carousel Park, located at the southeast corner of the Pier. It was designed by the local architectural firm Moore Ruble Yudell and landscape architects Campbell & Campbell, winners of a design competition hosted by the Santa Monica Citizen’s Pier Task Force, which was to create a Pier Master Plan in 1983 after winter storms destroyed over one-third of the length of the Pier. Carousel Park provides a welcoming gateway to the Pier, a children’s playground, ample bleacher seating with two lookout pavilions, as well access for bicycles and the disabled from Ocean Front Walk to the Pier deck. It is an essential element in attracting visitors to the Pier. The park received numerous awards following its opening.

The Conservancy has joined with the Cultural Landscape Foundation, a national nonprofit dedicated to making our shared landscape heritage more visible, and preservation consultants Chattel, Inc., to submit a Landmark designation application for the park.

It remains to be seen how these concerns will be addressed in the final Environmental Impact Report, which is expected to be presented to City Council for approval sometime this fall. If the final proposal does not minimize impacts on the many historically significant structures adjacent to the bridge, we will be asking for your support in demanding changes to the plan before Council grants its approval.  Stay tuned….!

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