Part of the Gaviota Pier collapsed into the sea Saturday after being battered by large waves that were riding on high tides, according to the California State Parks Department.

The seaward 50 feet of the structure at Gaviota State Park was destroyed shortly before 8:30 a.m., said Eric Hjelstrom, sector supervisor for State Parks.

“Waves were breaking over top of the pier,” Hjelstrom said. “They took out some pilings, and once one goes, they all go down like dominos.”

About one third of the pier was lost — just seaward of the boat hoist, Hjelstrom said, adding that park officials were concerned that continued heavy surf could do more damage to the structure.

“The strongest portion of the pier is the section that has the big crane,” he noted. “But when the tide goes out, those waves will hit right at that part that’s left. We could lose the hoist.”

Gaviota State Park, which had storm surge coming up to the parking lot restrooms, is closed, Hjelstrom said, as is Refugio State Beach, which “looks like a cobble beach.”

El Capitan State Beach remained open, he said.

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Tom Bolton, Noozhawk Executive Editor

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at