.Capitola on the Mend

Wharf House dismantled

The Wharf House Restaurant and the Boat and Bait Shop on the Capitola Wharf were torn down and toted away over the past few weeks as part of major repair and rebuilding of the historic landmark.

Construction crews carefully picked apart the buildings, with attention to not let debris get into the ocean.

Officials estimate demolition fees to run about $804,880.

While there is talk of the Boat and Bait Shop being rebuilt, it is unclear if the Wharf House, which featured a deck and dance floor, would come back to life.

“We’re a National Marine Sanctuary and there are some traces of hazardous materials in those buildings,” Capitola Mayor Kristen Brown said. “So we have to be careful in the demolition because we, above all, have to protect the waters and life of the Marine Sanctuary. The buildings just weren’t safe anymore and they found traces of asbestos.”

secure document shredding

In October, state and city officials joined around 100 people to kick off repairs after storms last year took a giant bite out of the Capitola Wharf, cutting it into two sections and damaging buildings. That gap has since been replaced.

Attendees spoke about a multi-year journey that led to the groundbreaking ceremony.

“This wharf for 130 years has been an essential part of this community,” said Congressman Jimmy Panetta, who was at the October event. “This wharf has been a cornerstone of this community. But most importantly, it’s a symbol of what we stand for in this community. It represents the resiliency of Capitola.”

Even before the damage and current repairs, Capitola officials were planning to revitalize the wharf.

In 2015, city leaders began discussions on how to make the wharf more resilient and reinforce the structure against high surf and climate events. In 2016, Capitola residents passed tax Measure F, which the city used to update various fixtures of the wharf in the following years.

Following the storms in December 2022 and early 2023 that tore a big section out of the wharf and damaged its buildings, Panetta secured $3.5 million in federal funds for the wharf’s revival. Combined with state money, insurance payouts and Measure F contributions, the city now has more than $10 million to repair and reinforce the wharf.

Separately, a community-founded fundraiser known as the Capitola Wharf Enhancement Project has raised more than $150,000 to help beautify the structure. That money will go toward things such as public art, educational signage, benches and more.

But Brown pointed out that during recent repairs, workers discovered greater damage than was first detected.

“We had to move quickly in tearing the buildings out,” Brown said, “in order to keep hazardous materials from falling into the water.”

Brown said officials were hoping for a reopening of the wharf sometime in October but permits and Coastal Commission approvals take time. She added that she hopes the wharf could once again serve as a venue for live music, dining, dancing, recreational fishing and more.

1 COMMENT

  1. December 2022 and early 2023 that tore a big section out of the wharf and damaged its buildings, Panetta secured $3.5 million in federal funds for the wharf’s revival. Combined with state money, insurance payouts and Measure F contributions, the city now has more than $10 million to repair and reinforce the wharf.
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Tarmo Hannula
Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.
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