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Newport Beach

Volume 6, Issue 83  | October 15, 2021

Paul Blank named as city’s next harbormaster


A familiar face will soon be at the helm in Newport Harbor following an announcement this week.

Former Harbor Commissioner Paul Blank has been selected as the city’s next harbormaster. In the role, Blank will lead the Harbor Department, created a few years ago after the city merged other divisions and responsibilities. The department and Blank’s office are based out of Marina Park on the Balboa Peninsula. 

He will serve as the lead ambassador for Newport Harbor, one of the largest recreational harbors in the country, and oversee more than a dozen employees and an approximate $1.1 million annual budget.

Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs made the announcement during the Harbor Commission meeting on Wednesday, April 14. Blank was offered the position several weeks ago, which he immediately accepted, and is now just going through the standard background, medical and physical checks.

“I am tremendously honored to have been considered for this position and a bit astounded that I got selected,” Blank said in an email to Stu News Newport on Thursday. “I know there were many qualified candidates considered, all of whom have great passion for our harbor and its care. I know the expectations for this position are high and I will do everything in my power to exceed those expectations. I know I cannot please all of the constituents all of the time, but I look forward to being the lead ambassador for the city’s most iconic asset.”

Paul Blank named on harbor

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Paul Blank 

Paul Blank out on the water in Newport Harbor

Blank’s start date is still unclear. The comprehensive background check includes several hours of interviewing him, his neighbors, and former employers and employees.

“The citizens of Newport Beach should be pleased to know the city takes these hiring decisions very seriously,” Blank said. “Only very thoroughly vetted people ever become members of what is a very strong team.”

After the background check, he then will need to pass a physical/medical evaluation. All of which takes time.

“Hopefully by mid-May I will be reporting to Marina Park,” Blank said.

Formerly in the top spot on the water was Kurt Borsting, who retired earlier this year. Borsting’s last day was April 2. He had been on board with the city since December 2018. Harbor Commission Chair Bill Kenney presented Borsting with an award for his service to the city during the March 10 commission meeting.

“I owe huge debts of gratitude to my two predecessors, Dennis Durgan and Kurt Borsting,” Blank said. “Theirs are big topsiders to fill and I am looking forward to the challenge of building on the great foundation they laid down.”

The department was created from essentially nothing in July 2017, Blank pointed out. 

“I am very much looking forward to working with the very capable and dedicated Harbor Department team that is in place,” Blank said. “They are a great group, and have brought great organization and structure to the department in a very short period of time.”

While there is no specific project or issue Blank wants to tackle first, there are certain harbor operations he doesn’t know much about and will try to quickly get up to speed in those areas.

“One is just the scheduling and most effective deployment of department resources to meet the demands of a Harbor that never sleeps,” Blank said. “The demands for attention of the Harbor Department resources are seemingly endless. Prioritizing and addressing the most pressing issues and those where the constituents can recognize the fastest and biggest returns on their investments will be an early focus of mine.”

As a former harbor commissioner himself, Blank said he is looking forward to again working with his former colleagues, although the new role and responsibilities will be quite different than his eight years up on the dais (his final term ended in 2020).

“This role is a large departure from my prior service on the Harbor Commission,” Blank said. “While there is tremendous overlap on the subject matter, this transition is very significant. Formerly, I was responsible for policy development and recommendations. Going forward, I will be responsible for policy implementation and enforcement. It may sound (or read) like a subtle difference, but it really will be a vastly different paradigm in which I will be working.”

Blank has also served as Rear Commodore at Balboa Yacht Club and is a lifelong sailor.


Sara Hall covers City Hall and is a regular contributor to Stu News Newport.

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