Moving Forward: Paul Irving, Estero Bay’s Man of Many Hats 

Written by Sullivan

February 1, 2024

Paul Irving and friends out on the Bay for regular kayaking with his group the Baywood Rowing Club. Photo submitted

Monday through Friday at 7:30 a.m, Paul Irving meets up with fellow members of the Baywood Rowing Club at the Morro Bay Yacht Club for a 60-minute row. I had heard of the Baywood Navy, but never a Baywood Rowing Club! Of course, I quickly discovered Paul had created the new group! For me it was just one more start-up this man had his imprint on and why I was compelled to write his story.   

He admitted he was going stir crazy during COVID-19. “Bayside Life (his insurance business that pays the home-front bills) and Big Big SLO (one of his many side-hustles) had been filling my time.” But when music literally stopped at concerts, fundraisers, wineries etc. etc. etc., he had to find something else to do.  

“I took up kayaking on the bay,” Paul explained. “When it got harder to go faster when it should have gotten easier, I realized I was trying to push the kayak faster than it could go.” Paul is not one to hesitate. He moves right to a solution. “So, I got a new boat and signed up for SLO Rowing Club lessons. I learned what a great workout rowing was. You use 85% of your muscles.” 

Since 2020 he believes he has rowed 1,000 miles per year. 

And while on his morning row, wildlife activity or interesting views would be worthy of pause for a photo. “I spent so much time on the bay.” He estimated 12,000 miles to date. “I noticed no two times were ever the same. The bay has moods that are always different. I found that interesting.” 

He would post his favorites on Facebook and followers began to suggest he do something with the photos. “That’s how the annual calendar came about,” he said. Since his public had suggested it, he created a voting system to choose the favorite twelve, which were then published in an annual Estero Bay calendar he pre-sold to the same followers who selected the photos. “2024 was my third edition.” 

Paul was not born with a marketing/sales brain, but his career path demonstrates he has the gift. He was born in New Haven, CT and became a Californian at age 10. He grew up in Diamond Bar and by age 18 was working claims in Los Angeles for the auto insurance industry. Was making the best of a bad situation his training to recognize a next opportunity? 

He explained, “I did that for several years and one day looked around and asked myself if I wanted to live in LA and do that the rest of my life? I had been visiting a friend who was going to Cal Poly.” 

Paul was 21 when he chose the SLO lifestyle, but he had to find ways to make his choice work. At first, he lived on a boat in Morro Bay and leased space at Horizon’s dock offering kayak lessons. In 1999 he expanded to Port San Luis with a sailing school and water taxi business. Stability, financial security, and a desire for home ownership was the goal. When he was offered the chance to build his own insurance brokerage, Bayside Life, (paul@baysidelife.com) living comfortably on the Central Coast became sustainable.    

 Most folks, however, who know the name Paul Irving associate him with music. “Music is my happy place,” Paul admitted. “Or one of them!”  

Thirty-five years ago, he added music to his already active life. The first group was the Rock Steady Posse, which morphed into Mozaic in the 90s and ultimately the sought-after Zongo All-Stars. Paul plays the trumpet for both Zongo All Stars and Upside Ska, a Jamaican ska band.  

Always promotion oriented, Paul befriended event planners and venue owners. Talk would invariably come up about methods to get the word out earlier about what, where and when the music was happening. Paul had the idea. Today’s www.bigbigslo.com entertainment guide online and in New Times, began as little monthly booklets Paul would produce and personally hand out at the venue that sponsored the booklets. When he realized concert attendees and promoters were hungry for contact information, he also created an annual SLO County Musical Guidebook. Who paid for it? They all did! Paul would create the content and the venue/events promoters/musicians would pay for the printing cost based on the number of books they intended to help Paul hand out. 

Music became a preferred attraction throughout SLO County expanding a variety of musical opportunities for concert attendees as well as gigs for musicians. Music festivals, music at weekly downtown street fairs, music at wineries during weekend wine tastings and several restaurants offered musical entertainment.  The Paso Robles Fair was renamed the Paso Robles Event Center and Vina Robles Winery added an outdoor music venue to attract celebrity talent all year long. 

And Paul was the go-to person, including when New Times, which produced the largest weekly entertainment guide, decided it was time to create a ticketing platform. Paul was called in to develop it. “Today 805Tix has 50,000 subscribers,” he said. “It sends out an online newsletter weekly for readers to see what’s going on as well as purchase their tickets in advance.” Paul continues to do the sales and often the ticket management training for those buying into the service.  

Indeed, a savvy businessman – but one with a heart for helping his community. For the past three years, Zongo All-Stars promoted benefits for the Kindness Coalition, feeding Estero Bay’s food insecure; Celebrate Los Osos, funding a high-profile entry landscape project and tables and chairs for the Red Barn; and the Los Osos Vista Drive homeowners displaced during the mud slides January 2023.   

And yet he continues to stumble on needed projects he’s compelled to make happen. Another “happy place” is on the water. Paul has been a longtime member of Morro Bay Yacht Club. Membership mandates annual volunteer workday duty. Recently, his assignment was rearranging the bulletin board information for members and visitors to access local marine services. “It was a jumbled mess. I’m a boat guy. I offered to organize the information in a 

guidebook! That’s what I knew how to do!” With buy-in from MBYC and support from the Friends of the Morro Bay Harbor Department, Paul produced the current marine services guide free to those who will use it.  

While Paul was working on this project, he learned the annual tide book producer was no longer producing it. What would boaters, surfers, sailors, kayakers, bay tourism directors, etc. etc. etc. do without an annual tide book? Paul added another project in 2022 and today his tide book productions are in Crescent City, Humbolt, Monterey/Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, LA area, Orange County and our Central Coastal regions.  

To be sure, family time is always important to Paul. He’s proud of his wife Jessica, owner/therapist of Coast Therapy Associates in Los Osos. Their two children are currently at the University of Santa Cruz. Edie is studying social justice and Cooper is interested in Marine Science and Music.  

Is there another great idea for Paul Irving? I have no doubts 2024 will be another big year. He can’t help himself! Thanks, Paul Irving! And, belated congratulations! No wonder you were the 2023 Los Osos Citizen of the Year!  

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