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On the Harbor: Meeting up with Harbor Commissioner Chairman Steve Scully


I was able to contact Harbor Commissioner Chairman Steve Scully this week for an interview. After the interview, I leaned back in my chair realizing just how much I missed this summer by not attending the meetings. The good news to report is that the Harbor Commission has been busy, and taking their tasks to hand by completing their objectives.

Scully is easy to talk to and I had a good laugh when he explained, “You have no idea what you are getting into when you get on the harbor commission, there is so much jargon, and so much knowledge in particularly with the commissioners who have been on the commission for quite some time. Getting to understand that and getting caught up is a lot of work; it can be overwhelming at times, but you just have to do it. It was drinking from the fire hose when I first got there, had to ask the questions and understand what they were talking about.”

On the Harbor Scully

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Courtesy of the Scully Family

Steve and Laura Scully

Scully has lived in Newport Beach for 31 years, loves the ocean, and was a deckhand on a comical fishing boat as a young kid in San Diego. He is now retired from his Trucking & Logistics company, which he sold in 2011. “I went from 30,000 miles an hour to zero. After retirement, I felt I should get involved with the city and try to give back. I felt the harbor would be the best place to do that. I was turned down twice for the commission and selected on the third try,” Sully said.

Each harbor commissioner is assigned different objectives and goals. So, my questions were on just that, by asking him for an update while working with the Water Quality and Coastal Tideland committees.

“The Water Quality Commission asked us to collaborate and they were pretty focused on water quality in the harbor, so we agreed to attend each other’s meetings. The concept of floating bathrooms was put to the Harbor Commission, who felt it was a better idea to chart out the public restrooms around the harbor by improving a phone app that would identify where the closest head was located to the operator’s location. Harbormaster Paul Blank took the lead on this task, updating the city’s phone app, completing the task. By attending the Water Quality meeting it’s been really fascinating to learn about the difference of the copper level in the harbor along with the upland runoff. Learning how to work with the county has also proven very insightful,” Scully shared.

While working in his trucking business, safety was always a priority, so Scully instinctively created an objective to improve the safety within the harbor. He started contacting the different commercial operations within our harbor to create a safety meeting. Working with Blank along with Harbor Code Enforcement Officer Matt Cosylion, helped him promote the meeting to the different marine operators. This turned out to be a very successful gathering with 35 companies attending a harbor safety meeting. Key people from the OC Sheriff’s Department and Lifeguard/Fire Department attended, hitting the ball out of the park. They created five different subcommittees from that original meeting, with the different commercial groups discussing their own concerns with other similar businesses on how all the different groups can share the harbor together. Everyone involved in organizing these meetings deserves a Bravo/Zulu for a job well done. My mind wonders and sees Cosylion knocking on everyone’s door and saying, “There is a harbor safety meeting coming up and I recommend you attend…capeesh?” I don’t think Cosylion is Italian, yet that image made me chuckle.

Regarding the goal of harbor enhancements, Scully noted improvements with the harbor phone app, new public docks, the disabled people lift at Marina Park, code enforcement, emergency response team drills and continued maintenance of the pump-out stations. I would personally like to say that Paul Blank is doing an outstanding job. He has brought attention to detail into the harbor, and he is multi-tasking on multiple different fronts to manage the harbor better, marking the harbor more enjoyable and safer while taking care of the extremely important assets of our city, while treating it with respect. I can’t give enough accolades to him for what he has done, and it’s allowed the harbor commission to advance, while allowing our harbor to significantly improve.

My last question was how Scully enjoys the harbor. “I enjoy having family down on the boat, just sitting in the cockpit and watching all the boats go by. We head down to Emerald Bay, and drop an anchor for day trips.”

Until this interview, I had not recognized how strong the Harbor Commission team had become. By synchronizing this team with the Harbor Department, our harbor has never been in better hands with the ability to achieve so much more.

Sea ya.


Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for Stu News Newport.

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