Monday, October 20, 2014

The Harbor Report: Commissioner is leaving his mark on the harbor

                                               Harbor Commissioner Paul Blank                                 Photo
By Len Bose
October 17, 2014 | 3:01 p.m.

This week, I had a chance to catch up with one of my favorite people, active harbor user Paul Blank.
In July 2012, Blank was selected by the City Council to sit on our Harbor Commission. At that time, I wrote, "He's very responsive, truly loves our harbor and will make a great harbor commissioner." As it turned out, our council selected one of the best and most productive commissioners I've ever observed.
Blank started to fall in love with our harbor at age 8, when he signed up for the city's beginning sailing program. He later attended Estancia High School and then moved on to UCLA and participated on the sailing team. The day after he graduated from UCLA, he moved to Corona del Mar and has lived there ever since.
Blank stays active on our harbor by sailing his Sabot, paddling his stand-up paddleboard, racing on the 49-foot, 11-inch sailboat It's OK and spending time in his True North 38 power boat.
When I asked him how he most enjoys the harbor, he replied, "Any moment I get to spend on the harbor is just a blessing. Asking me how I best enjoy the harbor would be like asking a parent to pick their favorite child."
Blank and I talked further about his role as a harbor commissioner and how he became interested in taking the seat. He expressed a keen interest in local politics.
"It's important for individuals to get involved and have a say in what their community looks like," he said.
During the last two years, he has set up a committee on stand-up paddleboards, should they be restricted within our harbor, along with making public pier recommendations. Both tasks were completed and presented in such a professional manner that it has become the standard for the Harbor Commission. One also gets the feeling, when observing this type of presentation, that the City Council can make a timely decision and things get done.
Blank is now working on the Harbor Commission's outreach committee, among other topics. An upcoming event to take notice of is the special Harbor Commission meeting scheduled for Nov. 15. The meeting will convene in a conference room in the Harbor Patrol facility at 1901 Bayside Drive, Corona del Mar.
The meeting will then be moved to one of the Balboa ferries waiting at the Harbor Patrol visitor's dock for a tour of the harbor. Copies of the route with waypoints to be called out on the tour can be found on my blog,
Commissioners will address the waypoints about which they are most versed. The ferry has a capacity limit, and guests will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Blank explained that the best way to prepare for the meeting would be to familiarize yourself with the waypoints and bring all of your questions and concerns.
We went on to discuss the hot topics of today and his concerns for the future. The most important topic today is our RGP 54 dredging and eelgrass mitigation permit, which should be completed in the first part of 2015. Another important topic is the development of our Lower Castaways. Both topics will be covered during the special meeting.
When we talked about the future, Blank brought up water quality and the rising sea level.
"The harbor's water quality has never been as clean as it is now in my lifetime, and it must continue to improve," he said. "Dredging and trapping debris and contaminants upstream is an extremely important element in keeping the water in the bay clean. Progress has been made; there is more to do."
While talking about sea-level rise, Blank explained the non-alarmist approach, which entails monitoring the harbor's data points and adjusting to the information.
Like Blank said, "It's important for individuals to get involved and have a say what their community looks like."
I was very pleased to hear that the Harbor Commission has added my idea of day moorings off Big Corona Beach to its description of alternative anchorage areas.
Be sure to mark your calendars for Nov. 15 and bring your questions.
Sea ya.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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