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First storm causes damage to Pismo Beach staircase; repairs set to begin on other coastal stairs

Pismo Beach closed access to the coastal staircase off Pier Avenue after the storm eroded the bluffs that support the stairway
Angel Russell
Pismo Beach closed access to the coastal staircase off Pier Avenue after the storm eroded the bluffs that support the stairway

The first winter storm this year damaged a coastal access stairway in Pismo beach, closing it for the foreseeable future.

But, the city said, while one stairway is now closed, another that’s been boarded up for years is set to begin repair work.

Off Pier Avenue in the Shell Beach section of Pismo Beach, a stairway leads to a stunning coastal cove that many tourists visit to relax and launch kayaks.

But now, people walking up to the stairway are met with a large sign blocking the entrance that says ‘Keep off, stairs closed.’

Ben Fine, Public Works Director for the city of Pismo Beach, said the recent storm is to blame.

“The storm eroded the bluff that supported one of the pilings for the stairs," Fine said. "So we had to close that staircase.”

Fine said engineers are now evaluating the damage and what it’ll cost to repair it.

For now, many visitors are walking along to see a piece of Mother Nature's work.

“The earth is falling apart!” said Grover Beach resident Liz. She was disappointed to see another coastal stairway closed due to erosion.

“One day. It’ll be done one day," Liz said. "The stairs in Pismo — there’s like three of them falling apart [that] need to be repaired.”

Fine said, while the Pier Avenue stairway is closed until further notice, repair work will finally begin around the New Year on another coastal stairway, that’s been closed for several years on Ocean Boulevard.

“It’s going to add an observation point. It’s going to fix ADA accessibility issues. It’ll add a telescope and then, obviously, the stairs," Fine said. " It’ll take about a year [of] construction.”

Fine said the city is in a constant battle against the elements to keep coastal stairways open because the bluffs continue to erode.

Angel Russell is a former KCBX News reporter who started her career in journalism as a reporter and producer for KREX on Colorado's Western Slope; she later moved to the Central Coast to work for KSBY as weekend anchor and weekday reporter. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, and playing guitar and piano.