The pier sat closed for a few months, and then, like the proverbial phoenix, the pier was reopened once again. However, only temporary repairs had been made and so, in May of 1995, the pier was once again closed for a short time to facilitate repairs to the damage caused by the 1992 and 1994 fires and earthquake. In April of 2000 a small fire eerily reminiscent of the 1994 blaze occurred due, apparently, to a poorly discarded cigarette. The Los Angeles Times reported “Diners Trapped as Small Fire Burns Hole in Seal Beach Pier.” A 4-foot-by-4-foot hole was burned through the pier and once again people were trapped at the end. The small fire led to a no-smoking ban on the pier, possibly the first such law at a SoCal pier.
Seal Beach Says No Smoking on Pier — City Council cites fire safety concerns. ‘We’d like to keep our historical landmark and please don’t burn it down,’ mayor says.
Less than a month after a fire trapped dozens of people at the end of the Seal Beach Pier, the City Council this week voted to ban smoking to prevent a similar potential disaster. The smoking prohibition is believed to be the first at an Orange County pier, an unheard-of safety precaution even at Southern California piers that have been devastated by fire in past decades—including the Santa Monica Pier, Redondo Beach Pier and Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara.
A discarded cigarette smoldering in the Seal Beach Pier’s wooden planks is believed to have caused a small blaze that stranded customers at the Ruby’s restaurant April 1. The blaze took 30 firefighters and a fireboat a half hour to bring under control, and left a 4-by-4-foot hole in the structure. “It was a no-brainer,” Seal Beach Mayor Paul Yost said of the smoking ban. “It’s a wooden pier, and it’s our landmark and it’s almost burned down a couple of times.”
The City Council approved the ban 4-0 Tuesday night. No members of the public spoke in opposition. Yost, a doctor, said the ordinance is purely a fire safety issue, not a commentary on the health hazards affiliated with smoking. “We’re not making a big political statement about it other than we’d like to keep our historical landmark, and please don’t burn it down,” Yost said. “Not that cigarette smoking isn’t incredibly bad for you.”
Until the ban takes full effect in 30 days, smokers who light up will be issued warning citations. Once the 30-day period expires, citations for smoking could cost violators up to $150. Strolling the pier Tuesday, Tom and Julie Fitch said they were happy about the ban. “It’s nice to have sea air by itself,” Tom Fitch said. Buena Park resident Michael Haye, 25, visits the pier once a week to fish, and was surprised to hear about the ban. His tackle box includes a tiny cache of cigarettes, and Tuesday he said he’ll be hard-pressed to leave them behind. “[The ban] is a little drastic,” Haye said. “A lot of people come out here to smoke.”
Officials in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach said their piers are better protected for fire danger because the structures are coated with concrete. Still, their piers have wooden undercarriages or buildings that could be set ablaze by a discarded cigarette or cigar, they said. While Newport Beach has not considered a smoking ban on its piers, the city might “consider improving our fire safety standards when we complete [planned] resurfacing and improvement,” said deputy city manager Dave Kiff. Asphalt and concrete also cover major portions of the Santa Monica Pier, and areas with wooden planks and wooden undercarriage are protected by an elaborate fire sprinkler system, said Assistant Fire Chief Jim Hone of the city fire marshal’s office. —Alex Murashko and Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times, April 26, 2000
The pier was again closed for repairs in the spring of 2006 while the pier underwent a $500,000 rehabilitation that included replacement of the boat landing. In 2007 a portion of the wooden planks on the walkway were replaced—at a cost of $262,925. Then, in 2008, the pier was closed for a short time when huge waves knocked two wooden pilings off the boat ramp. It’s all part of the life of a pier.
A battered Seal Beach icon burns — yet again
In Seal Beach, residents gather on the pier to sip coffee, watch the surfers, gossip, fish and amble in the sea breeze. On Friday, in a steady south wind, they gathered to watch it burn over a choppy gray sea. An abandoned diner at the end of the pier caught fire around 7:45 a.m. Fire boats from Long Beach, the port of Los Angeles and Orange County raced to douse the flames with high-powered salt water hoses. Orange County fire crews attacked it from land. The fire destroyed the old Ruby’s Diner and a bait shack, but firefighters kept the rest of the 610-yard wood pier from igniting… Lauren Allen, a resident since 1983, hopes this might prompt the city to rebuild and reinforce the structure, noting that the end of the pier was already closed off because of damage caused by hurricane-generated waves in August. “It’s pretty rickety.” On Thursday, she and her husband took a stroll on the concrete pier in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach. “We were thinking, we need to do it right, like this.” For now, it’s not clear when the pier will reopen. “Pier inspectors will look at the integrity of the wood and determine what repairs need to be made in order for it to be safe to the public again,” said Orange County fire Capt. Larry Kurtz. —Joe Mozingo, Los Angeles Times, May 20, 2016
The pier soon was reopened although the end of the pier that had contained Ruby’s Restaurant remained closed. Work to fix the end section started in 2018 and we are waiting to see when the section will reopened — as well as if a new restaurant will built.
Seal Beach Pier Facts
Hours: 5 A.M. to 10 P.M.
Facilities: There are long wooden benches nicely designed for anglers, fish-cleaning stations, restrooms, and lights. There is limited one and two-hour free street parking but most people park at the large beach parking lot adjacent to the pier — $3 for two hours or $10 for the day. Across the street is “The Hangout Restaurant & Bar,” a local favorite that serves up really good breakfasts. Unlike some of the more celebrated SoCal beach towns, Seal Beach is a family town with a small-town, friendly, relaxed atmosphere. It’s a nice place to visit—or live.
Handicapped Facilities: Although there is handicapped parking, the restrooms are not equipped for the handicapped. The pier surface is wood and cement and the rail height is 43 inches. Posted for handicapped.
Location: 33.737188352323436 N. Latitude, 118.10789823532104 W. Longitude
How To Get There: From the Pacific Coast Highway simply take Main St. west and follow it to the pier.
Management: City of Seal Beach.