Standing Watch

Making Waves: Who Speaks for Boaters on the Dais?

Are Newport Beach and Redondo Beach models for boating involvement in political process?

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA — The year that was 2017 proved somewhat significant for boaters, particularly in the cities of Newport Beach and Redondo Beach. A leading boating industry tycoon was elevated to mayor in Newport Beach during the City Council’s final meeting of 2017 – almost perfectly book-ending the swearing-in of another lifelong boater as council member about 12 months earlier. Several miles up the 405, meanwhile, a slow-growth activist who positioned himself as a boating advocate won a hotly contested seat on the Redondo Beach City Council.

Will these (and other similar) policymakers prove to be an asset to Southern California’s recreational boaters in 2018 and beyond?

A boater doubling as policymaker isn’t a new phenomenon. Louis Nowell, for example, served on the Los Angeles City Council in the 1970s and sailed from Honolulu to Los Angeles aboard his schooner in 1972.

Kevin Faulconer, currently serving as San Diego’s mayor, reportedly listed boating as one of his hobbies. Ventura Port District Commissioner Brian Brennan regularly sets sail out of the local harbor; he also served as Ventura’s mayor between 2003 and 2005.

Boaters also serve on a variety of harbor-themed advisory boards and quasi-judicial agencies, such as the Port of San Diego’s Board of Port Commissioners, Newport Beach Harbor Commission, Long Beach Marine Advisory Commission and Santa Barbara Harbor Commission.

Having Marshall “Duffy” Duffield and Brad Avery on the Newport Beach City Council – as well as Nils Nehrenheim on the dais in Redondo Beach – isn’t, accordingly, the trailblazing or pioneering event.

The value of Duffield as Newport Beach mayor and Avery and Nehrenheim as active council members, however, is to beg the question of whether boaters have a voice at the highest levels of the policy making process.

Newport Beach’s City Council, for example, most certainly dictates and influences what policies govern the local harbor. In 2018 the council is likely to vote on whether a second public anchorage – offered for free at the harbor’s Turning Basin – will become a permanent seasonal feature. Avery had pushed for the anchorage while serving on the city’s Harbor Commission. Both he and Duffield (also a former Harbor Commission member) could be instrumental in directing and influencing pro-boater policies – such as the establishment of a second permanent anchorage in Newport Beach.

Nehrenheim, meanwhile, actively advocated against CenterCal Properties’ The Waterfront project in Redondo Beach. One of the sticking points of the development: where to place the planned boat launch ramp.

The slow-growth activist and boater won his City Council seat in a runoff election, several weeks after Redondo Beach voters approved the anti-CenterCal ballot initiative  – Measure C – he supported.

The Port of San Diego’s official policymaking agency is the district’s Board of Port Commissioners – not the San Diego City Council. Nothing prevents Faulconer, however, from attending board meetings and going to bat for recreational boating matters, whenever relevant.

Policymakers, obviously, have multiple – sometimes overlapping, sometimes distinct – constituents and issues to simultaneously address. Yet there is no reason for recreational boating issues to be ignored – especially when boaters, for better or worse, have voices such as Duffield, Avery and Nehrenheim on local city councils.

His council colleagues, for example, viewed Duffield, the inventor of Duffy electric boats, as an authority on Newport Beach Harbor matters, sometimes turning to him to provide guidance on critical questions. Duffield spent most of 2017 as Newport Beach’s mayor pro tem and City Council’s liaison to the Harbor Commission.

Avery, meanwhile, was elected to the council in 2016 after serving on the Newport Beach Harbor Commission and as director of Orange Coast College’s School of Sailing and Seamanship.

Transparency and sustainable urban growth were Nehrenheim’s campaign promises during the spring 2017 election cycle. His push to challenge what he and his supporters called a supersized mall development on the King Harbor waterfront helped catapult Nehrenheim to the dais in Redondo Beach. Will his tenure prove fruitful for King Harbor boaters? It’s up to the local boating community to hold him accountable, of course.

The same could be said of elected or appointed policymakers up and down the region’s coast, where recreational boaters sit on a variety of boards, committees, councils and districts. Every new year brings about another set of topics and issues for policymakers to debate and flesh out – the only way to ensure those policies bend in the favor of recreational boaters is to actively interact with local and regional leaders.



Here is a partial list of local and regional officials – both appointed and elected – who influence public policy of harbors and waterfronts. Feel free to reach out to them and share your opinions of any sort of boating or waterfront policy sitting directly in front of them.


City of San Diego

Mayor Kevin Faulconer

Francis Barraza,


Twitter: @SDMayorsOffice


Port of San Diego

Commissioner Rafael Castellanos


Commissioner Ann Moore


Commissioner Robert “Dukie” Valderrama


Commissioner Marshall Merrifield


Commissioner Garry Bonelli


Commissioner Dan Malcolm


Commissioner Michael Zucchet


Orange County Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett (Dana Point)



Supervisor Michelle Steel (Newport Beach)



Newport Beach

Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield



Council member Brad Avery



Long Beach

Council member Suzie Price

Jack Cunningham,



Redondo Beach

Council member Nils Nehrenheim


424-374-7168 (cell)


Ventura Port District

Commissioner Everard G. Ashworth


Commissioner Brian Brennan


Commissioner James J. Friedman


Commissioner Nikos T. Valance


Commissioner Chris Stephens


Ventura County Board of Supervisors

Supervisor John C. Zaragoza (Oxnard/Channel Islands Harbor)

Bill Gallaher,


Share This:

One thought on “Making Waves: Who Speaks for Boaters on the Dais?

  • David Tanner

    Thank you, I think this is well written, very informative and stresses an important point. Equally important to me and perhaps the subject of another article is a list of what the boaters want statewide as well as in the individual marinas. Among the issues, I would like to see affordable slip/mooring prices and preservation of marine services in and near marinas.




Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Standing Watch/Take Action

In this section you will find resources and supplemental information on what you can do to Take Action. Submit additional information or tips on this issue to