SF’s Piers 30-32 could collapse within decade without $87 million investment 

click to enlarge Piers 30-32 — the former proposed site of a Warriors area, waterfront condos and George Lucas’ art museum — could disappear into San Francisco Bay in 10 years if The City doesn’t repair the dilapidated venue. That would cost at least $44 million. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • mike koozmin/the s.f. examiner
  • Piers 30-32 — the former proposed site of a Warriors area, waterfront condos and George Lucas’ art museum — could disappear into San Francisco Bay in 10 years if The City doesn’t repair the dilapidated venue. That would cost at least $44 million.

No waterfront hotel or condominiums, no Warriors, no art collection.

And unless as much as $87 million is spent to keep Piers 30-32 from falling into San Francisco Bay, within 10 years there could be nothing there -- not even the current parking lot.

Instead of a prime opportunity, Piers 30-32 -- the empty 13 acres along San Francisco's waterfront in a city bled dry of development parcel opportunities -- are becoming the Port of San Francisco's albatross.

Under Mayor Ed Lee, The City has made offers of piers and nearby land to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison for hotels and condominiums, to the Warriors for their planned 18,000-seat arena, and finally to "Star Wars" creator George Lucas if he would build his cultural museum in San Francisco.

All those projects were eventually scuttled, leaving the Port with a parking lot that could collapse within the next decade unless a significant investment is made to keep it afloat.

With the piers first built in 1912, a century of ocean spray and tides -- plus decades of deferred maintenance -- mean the piers need $44 million just to repair the rotten wooden pilings and rusted steel support beams, according to a recent Port estimate.

The piers can only host parking or temporary events of less than six months in duration without triggering a seismic retrofit. Making the piers shipshape during an earthquake will cost another $43 million, said Eunejune Kim, the Port's chief harbor engineer.

The Port estimates that the piers -- which served as space for warehouses and unloading cargo vessels during the Port's heyday -- will last as-is no more than 10 years, during which time "random points" could begin failing, according to an Aug. 7 memo.

That's well beyond the piers' estimated lifespan of 50 years. But even a minor earthquake could speed their doom.

"The Piers may also suffer serious damage during a moderate to major seismic event," the memo reads. "Port Engineering staff cannot provide any assurances that any or all of Piers 30-32 will survive such a seismic event."

Last year, the Port sunk $1.9 million into the piers for minimal repairs to allow the America's Cup teams challenging Oracle Team USA to use the space as a staging area.

Even if the piers are rescued from sinking into the Bay, rising waters may eventually catch up to them.

Sinking $44 million into the piers would extend their life by another 50 years, according to the memo, by which point the area is "expected to suffer frequent flooding," according to the memo.

It's not clear what purpose a rehabbed pier would serve. Various options floated for Piers 30-32 have included a sports field, a public park, or space for Teatro ZinZanni or Cirque du Soleil.

Most of those uses would require the seismic retrofit.

That's something for which the Port cannot currently pay, Port spokeswoman Renee Dunn Martin said Monday.

The Port is "taking a look at the various options," she said. "It'll all depend on the numbers."

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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