by Lori Donchak
We all have a story of something special, personal and fabulous that happened at the San Clemente pier: Angel the pelican - the young military family who poses at a specific time for the city’s pier webcam so their solider in Afghanistan can see them - the wedding proposal - a green flash - Junior Lifeguards’ pier-plunge - morning walks - unforgettable chowder …
Our city does a great job maintaining and protecting the pier. With over two million annual visits, there’s no question that the pier is the most iconic destination in town. For residents, it’s simply part of our daily lives. It’s a treasure, and it deserves to be the best it can be.
This is why the PierPride Foundation has formed.
According to a PierPride founding member Julia Darden, “Working in partnership with the city and key community stakeholders, PierPride will strive to fill the gaps between city funds and the Pier’s needs to restore it to the best version of its historic self.”
Julia further notes that the city does a great job with structural preservation, and that “PierPride will go the extra mile and identify projects that specifically impact the quality of the experience San Clemente residents have when visiting the pier.”
PierPride is a subsidiary of the Friends of San Clemente Foundation. Friends President Peggy Vance is excited to welcome the group under the Friends umbrella, as the pier is the centerpiece of many recreational activities in San Clemente.
“This is a great partnership. Having a group dedicated to preserving and celebrating our pier fills a great need. Such a popular place deserves to look its absolute best,” Peggy observes.
Jim Nielsen is a founder of Pier Pride and also serves on the Friends Board. He saw the potential of having a group with a single focus on the pier and was inspired to build a committed group of San Clementeans who share his passion. Jim is quick to point out that Pier Pride’s goal is not to change the Pier but to restore it and endow it with funds to ensure its preservation long into the future.
The pier was built in 1928 as part of the city founders’ master plan. As a historic destination, San Clemente pier was a long-standing beneficiary of California Redevelopment funds. The state dissolved Redevelopment Agencies and discontinued funding in 2012, which created a large budget gap in the city’s pier budget. Jim points to this event as one reason why the time is right for PierPride.
Currently, the city spends an average of $425,000 a year to structurally maintain the pier, a sample project being the recent effort to replace worn pier planks. Given the big demands the pier places on city resources, PierPride would assist in preserving the pier and provide items or care that residents would like but might be outside the city’s budget.
To reality-test the need for a pier-focused foundation, last fall PierPride board member John McMains set to work to identify aspects of the pier that might merit tender loving care. From cosmetic termite damage and sad trash cans to scarred bait tables and worn-out interpretive signs, John showed up at the first PierPride meeting with a lengthy list of ways to spruce up the pier. It’s no surprise that more frequent painting of the pier topped the list.
San Clemente maintenance manager Randy Little has signed up to help the foundation sort through what items the city routinely pays for and what items would benefit from PierPride support. Randy has prior experience with a foundation dedicated to preserving the Santa Monica pier. He expects Pier Pride to be an important force in San Clemente. He notes that, “The pier is the lifeblood of our community. It’s the first place we take visitors. A non-profit fund-raising arm is an important way to acknowledge the pier’s place in our lives.”
PierPride’s first initiative will be 2016 fund-raising for more frequent pier painting, with an eye to upgrading paint quality to be more marine-friendly and also with attention to needed railing repairs.
If you wonder how to get involved, wonder no more. www.pierpride.com is the place to learn everything. There’s even a place to make a donation.
Pier Pride. Everyone’s got it. We’d love to hear your personal stories. We’d love to hear your ideas for a better-looking pier. Use the website or find us on Facebook and let us know your feelings.