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Politics & Policy

City officials, swimmers to rally for funds to rebuild San Francisco pier

Miguel Melendez, 57, stands on the sand as other swimmers greet one another in the water at the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco on Aug. 30, 2022. | Kori Suzuki for The Standard

City leaders and die-hard swimmers are leading a rally on Saturday to ask the federal government for money to rebuild a historic pier after it was closed last month after the National Park Service deemed it structurally unsound.

The Aquatic Park Pier, which makes the bay a safe, albeit cold, place to swim, is now deteriorating—nearly a century after it was completed in 1933—with no plans to replace it anytime soon.

“That day I've been worrying about for the last 20 years has finally come,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the area where the pier is located and swims in the bay regularly. Peskin and a group of swimmers plan to take a dip in the water during the rally on Saturday.

City officials, including Peskin and Supervisor Catherine Stefani, sounded the alarm in two recent city resolutions that called on the federal government to allocate funding for its replacement, since federal officials say the current structure cannot be repaired. They are leading a rally at Aquatic Park on Saturday to call on the feds to take action.

No money has been set aside so far—although Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), in a May memo to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, requested $15 million to get started on its restoration. 

But the full price tag is likely to top $100 million, according to the National Park Service, which is responsible for the pier. And with no current funding sources identified, Peskin said, it could be years before work even begins.

“It always seems to fall off the list,” Peskin said.