Newport Beach Harbor Commissioner Duncan McIntosh finishes out his final term

McIntosh may no longer sit on the commission, but his passion for environmental, boating- and harbor-related pursuits will continue.

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, California — President Lyndon B. Johnson, in his March 31, 1968, National Address, is known for saying “I shall not seek, nor will I accept, the nomination of my party for another term [as your president],” in announcing he would not seek a second term. Duncan McIntosh, who served eight years as a commissioner on the Newport Beach Harbor Commission and sat his last meeting on Wednesday, June 13, echoes this quote.

When asked about his future political aspirations, McIntosh simply says, “No thank you.” It’s fairly common for Harbor Commissioners in Newport Beach to continue their political journeys such as Council member Brad Avery, who currently sits on City Council. However, these days, according to McIntosh, the position seems to be more about raising funds than the political atmosphere it once was.

McIntosh says these days, the position of City Council member has turned into a full-time job and the other elements of lobbyist-like individuals trying to target and wrangle up council members to support them – that kind of thing isn’t really to McIntosh’s liking; he prefers the environmental aspects he has been a part of over the years on the Harbor Commission such as some of the dredging activities that took place in Newport Beach.

“For one, I have enough going on here,” he said. Here is his publishing company, which produces several boating-themed newspapers and magazines, including The Log, Boating World and Sea, as well as news outlets such as Editor & Publishers and OC Weekly.

Duncan McIntosh
Duncan McIntosh

On the day leading up to this interview, McIntosh was busily wrapping up tasks related to the San Diego International Boat Show – staff at Duncan McIntosh Co., Inc. can attest whenever one of the many boat shows are on, it can be difficult to catch McIntosh as he is involved with the many tedious elements that go into producing some of the largest boat shows in the country.

McIntosh runs an operation that has employed a good number of people, some who have been working at Duncan McIntosh Co., Inc. as long as 30 years or more. He recently bought some of the country’s largest fishing and outdoor recreation shows such as the Fred Hall Shows, San Diego International Boat Show and Newport Beach Boat Show, each adding to the show he started 45 years ago, the Lido Boat Show in Newport Beach. Essentially, his whole life has revolved around the water in some way or another.

McIntosh mentions there have been challenges on the Harbor Commission, but overall he is very proud of one thing he has seen happen after his years as a commissioner.

“We have gotten the City Council to take us seriously,” McIntosh said. With several boating industry folks sitting on the Council now, such as Mayor Marshall Duffield and the aforementioned Council member Avery, it can be seen just how important the harbor has been to Newport Beach.

With a wide array of on-water activities, a desirable and beautiful sailing location and a recreational boating haven that is still growing, the Harbor Commission’s members have their work cut out for them studying everything from illegal charters to dredging activities and making recommendations on financial, practical and even common sense decisions in the harbor.

“We have a good group of people – it could be challenging, but everyone does a good job,” McIntosh said, adding the current commissioners get along very well and work together easily.

Safety measures have come a long way for McIntosh, who recalls an early memory of his boating experience.

“I grew up in Long Beach. At about 10 or 12, I started sailing with Long Beach Youth Sailing Program. I still remember the woman in charge – her name was Fran Dixon. She asked my dad if I could swim and he said, ‘Yes, he’s good in the water.’ Then they said they were going to push the boat off and I’d be able to sail by the time I figured out how to get back to the dock. [Sailing instructors] weren’t so big on teaching methods back then,” McIntosh said.

McIntosh has lived in Newport Beach going on 50 years. When asked if it has changed much, McIntosh states most of the issues have remained the same – it’s still about traffic, noise and the airport, but the population has grown and there is quite a bit of newer construction.

As the conversation turns, the subject of sea lions arises – a subject that has caused boaters a great amount of grief in Newport Beach. McIntosh, though agreeing the animals can be cute, also acknowledges their size and having so many in the Bay is a problem.

“Sea lions cause quite a racket,” McIntosh, who regularly hears them from his home, said. The racket might be one of the less troubling aspects as McIntosh tells a story where one looked as though he was going to bite McIntosh’s dog.

Though sea lions have recently seen a reemergence in their population, McIntosh said it has been difficult to find humane methods to deal with them. Sea lions can cause massive amounts of damage to boats, are messy and could be harmful to pets among other things.

Wrapping up, there’s a focus partially on the unexpected elements of being involved in politics. “I couldn’t believe the West Anchorage project didn’t go through,” McIntosh said, referencing a recent project where the Coast Guard denied a permanent anchorage to be placed in Newport Harbor.

Though McIntosh will no longer be a harbor commissioner, he did get a nice-looking plaque for serving and he went to dinner with the other commissioners.

Three appointees to Newport Beach Harbor Commission will begin their terms in July, continuing to work where McIntosh’s legacy leaves off.

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