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Newport Beach appoints former harbor commissioner as harbormaster

Paul Blank is the new harbormaster of Newport Harbor.
Paul Blank has been appointed harbormaster of Newport Harbor.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Paul Blank was out on the water by age 10.

The year was 1975 and he’d only just signed up for a two-week-long sailing class through the Newport Beach recreation programs.

Blank, 56, said he remembers the days spent in and around Newport Harbor. He’s had the “great privilege” of sailing around the world, but Newport Harbor’s always been his port of call — so much so, he’s the city’s new harbormaster.

The city announced Tuesday that Blank started his new job Monday and replaces former harbormaster Kurt Borsting, who retired in April.

Of the 12 applications submitted, Blank was chosen after an extensive background check and physical exams that took nearly a month, he said. Blank said he hadn’t even been looking for a new job when the opportunity presented itself, but that the encouragement of friends and family led him to applying.

He previously served on the city’s harbor commission for eight years.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Paul to our city team,” Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs, who oversees the harbor department, said in a statement. “His experience, knowledge of the harbor and relationships with key stakeholders in the maritime community make him a great fit for the position.”

According to Newport Beach city spokesman John Pope, the salary range for the harbormaster position is $104,008 to $155,990 annually.

Blank said he feels his new position is a fitting transition from the commission, as he’d had a hand in developing policies in that capacity and now will be the one implementing them.

As harbormaster, Blank will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the city’s harbor department and oversee one full-time employee and 13 part-time employees.

City staff describe members of the department as “ambassadors” for Newport Harbor, as they provide information and assistance to residents and visitors.

“Continuing to improve safety on the water in Newport Harbor, ensuring all users of the harbor are able to use the harbor safely, [are] huge objectives of the harbor commission and of mine,” Blank said. “That’ll be done through continuing outreach.

“My list of things [to do] is growing by the minute, but everything that’s on that list is worth addressing. This is exactly what I want to be doing,” he said.

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