Around a hundred people gathered on the wooden planks of the Capitola wharf Friday afternoon to watch city officials break ground and kick off construction on the iconic fixture.
Past the chain-link fence that on most days keeps the public from walking on the damaged wharf, city officials spoke about the multi-year journey that has led to this point.
“This project has been years in the making,” said Capitola Mayor Margaux Keiser. “There’s so much that we can do here that will make things not only more accessible but more enjoyable for people of all ages, families.”
Starting in 2015, city leaders initiated discussions around how to make the wharf more resilient and reinforce the structure against crashing waves 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 infamous January storms that tore the wharf in two, Congressman Jimmy Panetta, who was in attendance at the groundbreaking event, 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.
“This wharf for 130 years has been an essential part of this community,” said Pannetta. “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.”
Separately, a community-founded fundraiser known as the Capitola Wharf Enhancement Project has raised over $150,000 to help “beautify” the structure: that money will go towards things like public art, educational signage, benches and more.
“It just goes without saying we are a community and it really truly does take a village,” said Keiser. “This is our village. Let’s bring it back.”