LONG BEACH — Shortly after Robert Garcia took office last year as Long Beach’s youngest and first openly gay mayor, he pushed forward a baker’s dozen of political appointments to fill openings in several commissions. One of his appointees is Peter Schnack, an information technology director at Molina Healthcare and avid boater selected to his first term on the city’s Marine Advisory Commission (MAC).
The nine-member commission meets monthly and advises Long Beach’s council members and staff about policy matters pertaining to the city’s marinas and waterways. Schnack’s first MAC meeting as commissioner was Jan. 15. During that meeting, the commission discussed a bond sale proposal for the Alamitos Bay Marina rebuild.
A lifelong boater, Schnack knows he has a lot of work ahead of him as one of nine commissioners who help shape policies that govern Long Beach’s marinas (Alamitos Bay, Rainbow Harbor and Shoreline). He spent a few moments chatting with The Log about his life as a boater and his expectations as an MAC commissioner.
The Log: How did you become interested in boating and what do you enjoy most on the water? What was your first boating experience?
Peter Schnack: I think my boating interest started when I was 3 years old, and my parents bought a beach house in Newport. I learned how to sail and was allowed to sail alone out in front of the house. Over time, I taught many a renter during the summer how to sail. As I moved up in boats (Hobie 14, Laser, Hobie 16), it was also to get crew and people to help me drag the boat back up on the beach. I raced with friends on larger boats, many of them multihull. I also had various sail- and powerboats between then and now.
TL: What kind of boat do you have and where is it docked? Also, what was your first boat?
Peter Schnack: We have a Ranger Tugs R25 that is docked in the canals in Naples. My first boat was a Naples Sabot. The first boat I purchased on my own was a Hobie 14.
TL: How do you balance work, family and boating? How often are you on the water?
Peter Schnack: Luckily, my family enjoys boating too. The twins, Ethan and Garrett (12), sail over at the Long Beach Yacht Club, mostly now in FJ’s. My oldest, Trevor (14), has not been sailing as much anymore but is always up for a trip to Catalina. With all the craziness of activities with kids that age with sports, band, road trips, etc., we still have managed to get between 75-100 engine hours on the boat each year, with trips just around the local area as well as Catalina and as far south as San Diego. We also sometimes take the boat down to Newport for overnight visits to my mom’s house.
TL: What motivated you to seek the opening on the MAC?
Peter Schnack: When you are active in the community, you come across many of the same people, from soccer refereeing to helping with school and community events and charities. It seems that there are a few community-oriented people who help make things better. I am not sure I am totally in that league, but I do my best to support where I can.
TL: It’s still early in your term, but what goals do you have during your tenure? What changes or enhancements, if any, would you like to see accomplished in the next few years?
Peter Schnack: It is early, and the committee structure and rules I have not got my hands around yet. I want to make a difference and help people, just like I want with anything I do. That does take some time, understanding what is and is not working now, understanding how to get input from the community and stakeholders, and understanding what actually can be done.
TL: What are the biggest issues facing Long Beach’s marinas right now? As a personal observation, how have the marinas evolved?
Peter Schnack: I think the biggest issues right now (and I may be missing things) are getting the Alamitos Bay Marina completed and the economy.
TL: The Alamitos Bay Marina rebuild has been making progress. Are you pleased with how the rebuild has come along? Do you have any suggestions on changes that could be made with the impending work? Or is everything moving along just fine?
Peter Schnack: For as large an infrastructure project as it is, it seems to be going well.
TL: When you are not boating, what are you doing on land?
Peter Schnack: Well we also have a “land yacht” — a 23-foot motor home that we have managed to visit 34 states in so far with the kids. Then the usual activities as parents with kids, soccer, band, school activities, friends and family.