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The Harbor Report: Gate may hold key to harbor's future

March 28, 2014|By Len Bose
  • Jim Dastur, "a very peaceful man that does not get emotional while expressing his views."
Jim Dastur, "a very peaceful man that does not get… (handout, Daily…)

A couple of years ago at a Harbor Commission meeting, the topic of replacing some of our harbor's 18 miles of seawalls an estimated cost of $500 million was discussed.

Of course, the cost is what first grabbed my attention, along with how the commissioners responded to the topic. It was then that Marshall Duffield introduced me to the concept of a tidal gate and started to explain how these gates can protect the whole harbor.

Jump forward two years, and the idea of replacing seawalls was still being discussed at this month's Tidelands Management Committee meeting. Attending the meeting as concerned harbor users were Duffield and someone I was introduced to at the beginning of the year, Jim Dastur.

At this year's Tidelands meetings, Dastur has always presented himself as a very peaceful man who does not get emotional while expressing his views on why he feels that the city should proceed with a study on the feasibility of a floodgate at the entrance to our harbor. During this month's meeting, the committee gave Dastur the time to review his reasons on why a study is needed regarding tidal gates. Sitting next to me was Win Fuller, a local resident and active harbor user, who looked at me and said, "This guy is making the most sense."

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After the meeting, Duffield walked up to Dastur, introduced himself, shook his hand and gave him a warm pat on the back. This is when the idea of talking to Dastur first came to mind, and I proceeded to ask him for an interview, which he graciously accepted.

Dastur has lived on Balboa Island for 22 years. He was educated as a civil structural engineer and worked in marine construction. He has worked on most of the big commercial docks in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. He also has taken part in the retrofitting of all the major bridges in the Bay Area. For three years, he was the head director of the American Society of Civil Engineers' Construction Institute. Dastur was also contracted by India to consult on the building of a nuclear power plant with a seawater intake system — not to mention the fact that he was also the interim CEO of the company that worked on the replacement of the New Orleans levees.

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