I thought I would start the New Year by talking to Harbor Commissioner David Girling. When I first heard his name accepted by the City Council as a harbor commissioner about a year and a half ago, I had my concerns of how a nonboater could relate to our harbor.
During his time as a commissioner, he has stayed on task and brought a new perspective to the council that I find refreshing and productive. I had a chance to talk to Dave on the phone just before New Year's.
Dave's father, Bing Girling, was an Air Force pilot, so Dave moved around a lot as a child. In 1978, Bing retired from the Air Force, and he and his wife, Vickie, moved to Balboa Island. Dave attended USC, obtaining his degree in business administration. He later completed his MBA from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.
During this time, Dave worked on Wall Street in the mortgage business, then worked in a start-up business before moving in 2008 to Newport Beach, where he and his father started Girling Real Estate Investment Group.
One of the first tasks he was given as a harbor commissioner was developing recommendations for the best public use of the Lower Castaways. The Lower Castaways is located on the east corner of Dover Drive and Pacific Coast Highway.
Dave is the chairman of this subcommittee, and we are fortunate to have him. With his business and real estate background, he is without a doubt the best person for the job.
"This a unique parcel," Dave explained. "We want to make sure we do implement the best use for it, so we are being very deliberate about it." This subcommittee is also working with Newport Beach's Parks, Beaches & Recreation Department in developing a recommendation.
If I grasped the concept Dave was explaining to me, this area will be developed in a number of steps. The first step will be to tie the Upper Castaways bike and hiking trials and create a type of recreational hub with restrooms and parking. Step two could be the development of its harbor uses, such as public docks for human-propelled vessels.
Davehopes to have his recommendations presented to the Harbor Commission in March or April. His next step is to look for more public outreach before making his presentation to the Tidelands Management Committee and City Council.
Dave was also given the task of public outreach for the Harbor Commission this year.
"I have always been a big believer that I don't have the different perspectives on things that other citizens may, so I welcome the input from the citizenry on different issues," Dave said. "The only way you can get that input is to reach out to them and let them know what you are working on."
Since Dave has become a harbor commissioner, he has joined the Newport Aquatic Center and can be found rowing a single scull around the harbor in the early mornings.
When I asked him how he sees the harbor in 20 years, he explained, "I see the harbor becoming more efficient rather than change." We then talked about dredging, public docks and the mooring fields.
We then spent some time talking about upcoming topics that should be kept on the front burner for every harbor user. The first is the RGP 54 and the shallow water eelgrass mitigation plan. Another is the bulkhead and pierhead lines in conjunction with the current overhang regulations. These issues need community input, and Dave expressed the importance of the commission's outreach on these matters.
Dave is an easy person to approach and talk to. The best part is that he really listens to your concerns and if he agrees with you, something might even get done.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.