Location: Capitola, CA
|SANTA CRUZ >> City leaders unanimously gave their nod Tuesday night to a plan that spells out an expansion and repair of the 100-year-old Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf, a half-mile timber-pile pier over Monterey Bay that is the largest of its kind in the U.S.
Estimated to cost upwards of $40.5 million to implement, the proposal would establish three landmark buildings, including a covered events pavilion, and add a promenade on the east side and small boat landing. Some of the 4,400 pilings and other structural elements will be replaced or repaired, and entering, exiting and parking on the wharf will be made more accessible.
In accepting the plan, which represents the most significant changes to the wharf since the 1980s, the City Council authorized a full environmental review of the proposal by ROMA Design Group, who was a pivotal player in the redesign of downtown after the Loma Prieta earthquake 25 years ago. The firm also revived a number of prominent waterfront locations in San Francisco, where it is based.
Funding could come from other public agencies that stand to benefit from the improved public access, as well as new bond sales or the potential release of frozen bond proceeds related the city's former redevelopment agency, city officials said.
Steve Elb, owner and head chef at Olitas Cantina and Grille near the end of the wharf, said the wider public walkways will improve safety as people have a tendency to walk down the wharf's roadway when sidewalks are crowded. He said the best way for visitors and residents alike to better view the diverse wildlife, including whales, dolphins, sea lions and otters, that populate the bay.
"It is really alive, and the best way for people to enjoy it is to be able to go out there," Elb said.
Longtime resident Ralph Meyberg urged reconsideration of a seal landing, saying it may attract more seals than the city wants. He also said he supported architectural improvements but warned of too much change.
"Tampering too much with aesthetics of the wharf make it too neutral," Meyberg said.
The city and designer held public workshops and met at a recent summit hosted by Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel, with a host of regulators who will comment on the environmental study. The city also has begun work on a traffic roundabout at the foot of the wharf, at the intersection of Pacific Avenue and Beach Street.