Is the Peninsula Task Force up to the task?

I was very interested in the recent Post and Courier editorial encouraging the Peninsula Task Force to take charge of the cruise ship regulation issue.

The editorial correctly, I think, indicated that Mayor Joe Riley has not taken responsible action to protect the historic assets and residents of downtown neighborhoods.

The present “ordinance” is clearly a sham, providing no real use regulation as applied to every other tourist business, only a hope that if the State Ports Authority decides to increase cruise ship business it will consult.

The editorial encouraged the task force to consider reasonable regulations. I was a member of this task force for the last year, while president of Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association. Unfortunately, the task force is really not representative of organizations in the city.

It has members who were originally placed on the Task Force as representing a neighborhood. However, these individuals no longer are representative of their original constituency.

For example, persons initially on the task force from Ansonborough and Charlestowne neighborhood associations no longer hold positions in these associations.

Some might say because they do not represent the neighborhood at all, in fact sometimes having an opposite view of cruise ship regulation from the large majority of the neighborhood residents. But yet they remain on the task force.

Every citizen is entitled to attend task force meetings. But to have members of the task force who are not representative of any constituency is counterproductive to meaningful discussion and may be inimical to good results.

I believe The Post and Courier is mistaken that the task force, as it is presently constituted, can effectively assist the city in resolving the issues cruise ships present.

In fact, the city is cruising without a pilot, right into those problems the National Trust for Historic Preservation and World Monuments Fund recognized, as both organizations placed Charleston on watch lists due to the lack of meaningful regulation, such as the lack of on-shore power, allowing pollution from these ships, and other demonstrated problems.

Historic Charleston Foundation (whose director, Kitty Robinson, is co-chair with the mayor of the task force) has proposed a reasonable ordinance. But this was never even presented for consideration to the City Council. Why not suggest that this ordinance be revisited and hopefully meaningful regulation will result.

Unfortunately, with the composition of the task force membership and leadership, I foresee little constructive input from this group.

The editorial was only a wish: the reality is that we are “cruising to a disaster” without anyone willing to responsibly take on this issue.

J. Kirkland Grant
Charleston School of Law
Meeting Street