CAPITOLA, Calif. - This is the day Capitola residents have been waiting for: the day repairs to the damaged wharf get underway.
"The wharf is a huge part of Capitola. I mean everybody's kids have been out there, learned to fish out there," says Joshua Whitby, kitchen manager at Zelda's on the Beach.
A section of the wharf has been missing since January's storms washed it away. This video shows the waves as they crashed into nearby restaurant Zelda's on the Beach.
"It was a pretty good slap in the face in the beginning. And then it was just a little bit of a long road with the kitchen guys coming in trying to get it all rebuilt and put back together as quick as possible for sure," Whitby says.
Most, but not all, of the waterfront businesses are back open. But owners say the wharf is another piece of the puzzle because it's important for tourists, and beloved by locals.
The repairs are being merged with an improvement project that had already been in the works and will run about $7.9-million.
"So the wharf is going to be expanded here. It's going to be double wide the whole way out. So we're going to repair the existing gap there but also make our pilings six wide. So it's going to make it more resilient to future storms so we don't see this damage again," says Jessica Kahn, Capitola Public Works Director.
They're also using updated materials like fiberglass instead of timber. Crews will start pile driving next week. They're also adding new railings, decking, and restrooms.
"I'm honestly excited to see what they do because they're making it bigger. They're widening it. So it's really exciting. I also have a lot of customers come in who always ask about the wharf," says Yesica Guzman, a supervisor at Pizza My Heart.
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Of course, we're heading into another rainy season. Crews hope weather won't slow the work down or make the damage worse.
"But once they get it back together, it's part of Capitola. The tourists will be back to fish and eat out on the wharf, and it'll be a grand, grand thing," says resident Ed Daroza.
If all goes well, the new and improved wharf should be open sometime next summer.