Pictured: Aerial of Ventura City parking structure on Harbor Blvd. Photo by klotz.

by Kimberly Rivers

In early 2022 the city of Ventura is planning to close three parking levels and a stairwell in the parking structure located on Harbor Boulevard at the Ventura Pier in advance of repairs due to corrosion of the steel and concrete. 

A two-part structural analysis was completed in 2020, which rated the structure in “moderate condition” and revealed “corrosion of steel and concrete” in the southwest stairwell located closest to the pier. The structure was built in 1972. 

The stairwell closure is a “proactive measure until repairs can be done,” said Barbara McCormack, fleet and facilities manager for the city. The closure is being done in advance of the construction, “Out of an abundance of caution.”

She said the structural analysis “found other corrosion issues” in the parking structure and they are moving forward with the stairwell closure because “public safety is at the forefront of our decision making.” 

The stairwell repair project requires two parts. First, an egress plan to ensure pedestrian safety as the stairwell is being closed in advance of the construction, and then second, the construction or repair phase on the stairwell. 

When asked why the stairs were not closed now, she said the city is “waiting for the proposal from the contractor” regarding the details of the egress plan. There seems to be a delay related to the “supplies needed to close” the stairs. McCormack pointed out that the plan to close sections of the structure to the public during construction is typical for any project taking place in a structure accessible by the public. 

McCormack could not confirm it, but said supply chain issues could “very well be” contributing to the delay in the city receiving a supplies list from the contractor, which is needed to implement the egress plan.

The egress plan is more than just blocking off the stairwell. The plan delineates “the safe path of travel of pedestrians outside of the vehicle lane” in the parking structure. McCormack said the preliminary egress plan includes closing parking levels 3, 4 and 5 to ensure pedestrian safety during the closure of the stairwell and repair work. 

The egress plan has been approved by the city’s building and safety and fire departments. The selected contractor for the stairwell closure and egress plan is MTM Construction, Inc., headquartered in the City of Industry with an office in Ventura. 

The parking structure “serves an important function” to the “beachfront area,” providing “parking for people frequenting the promenade and restaurants in that area,” said McCormack. 

According to a city spokesperson, the parking structure is used at about 25% of capacity most of the time, although it does fill up during special events like the Ventura County Fair. 

Jennifer Buckley, community outreach specialist with the city, confirmed that “the city does own” the parking structure “outright with some outstanding bonds as part of a recent refinancing.”

According to information from Michael Coon, director for the city’s Department of Finance and Technology, and Vivien Avella, assistant finance and technology director, the city has a principal balance owed on the structure of $4.56 million, with an annual cost of $470,000 for principal and interest. The structure was part of a recent refinancing package involving several properties that saved the city $1.68 million in overall interest payments for just the parking structure.

The two parts of the structural analysis were conducted in September 2019 and April 2020. McCormack explained that the city also conducts “regular preventive maintenance” on the structure “annually,” which includes “looking at the structural system.” The last maintenance work was done in 2011. She said regular annual inspections also take place. 

The estimate to repair the stairwell is $250,000. The contractor for the construction phase has not been selected.