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August Litigation Update!

After being rescheduled more than a handful of times, our appeal of the State Port Authority’s permit to build a new cruise terminal at the north end of Union pier has now been scheduled for either November 9 or 17.  We will let you know when the date, time and place are finalized!

Please read the article posted on our website for further details (click here).

We hope many of you will save the dates, and join us in Columbia for the hearing…..

Until then, enjoy the waning days of summer–staying as cool as possible!

Steeples not Smokestacks, new article from World Monuments Fund

Steeples not Smokestacks
May 25, 2016 | by Frank Sanchis

The oldest city in South Carolina, Charleston is widely known for its well-preserved historic urban fabric. Attracting over 4 million visitors a year, the city reflects growing appeal as a cruise destination: according to the 2015 tourism management plan, published by the College of Charleston, the city experienced a 547% increase in the number of cruise ship passengers between 2000 and 2013. Current concerns in Charleston echo the challenges faced in other historic port cities with cruise ship tourism, such as Venice.

Carnival Cruise lines recently upped the ante in Charleston by basing Sunshine—a ship that holds 3,062 passengers—in the historic city. Sunshine joins the slightly smaller Carnival ship Ecstasy, which is already home-ported in Charleston, setting the stage for additional homebased superliners to come.

Meanwhile, a proposal by the State Ports Authority (SPA), in discussion since 2010, would create a new cruise terminal in the historic district with even more capacity at a reported cost of $35 million. The Army Corps of Engineers is the federal agency responsible for reviewing the SPA proposal.

In welcoming Carnival’s expansion and considering the new terminal, the leadership of Charleston has clearly not learned the sad lesson of Venice, where hordes of tourists streaming off as many as seven cruise ships at a time can double the population of that city for the brief period they are in port, severely taxing the fragile infrastructure and ruining the experience of being in the city, for both visitors and the local citizens. To date, Charleston’s leadership has refused to explore options for relocating the cruise ship terminal away from the city’s historic district, as requested by local, national, and international preservation groups, thus opening the way to accommodate not only more but larger ships in future.

Following the Preservation Society of Charleston’s nomination of Charleston to the 2012 Watch, WMF held an international symposium on the subject of cruise ship tourism in historic port communities. The symposium, entitled Harboring Tourism, took place in Charleston in February 2013. WMF subsequently published a summary of the proceedings.

In 2013, 72% of respondents to a poll by Charleston Magazine indicated that they were concerned about the congestion and pollution caused by what was, at the time, the one homeported cruise ship in the city. What will be the case with the stacks of two behemoths—maybe more—overshadowing the signature steeples of the historic Charleston skyline?

For more information, please refer to Charleston Communities for Cruise Control.

Cruise terminal controversy may have only one solution

The Advocate

By Jay Williams, Jr.

There’s good reason for the cruise terminal controversy. Union Pier may be the worst place to put it.

There must be a balance between residents’ quality of life and the cruise ship tourism that Jonathon B. Tourtellot, a National Geographic Fellow, once called “the strip mine of tourism.”

On April 12, more than 125 citizens attended an Army Corps of Engineers public hearing as part of a process to decide if the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SPA) should be given a permit to build a new terminal at Union Pier. (See many comments on our letters to the editor section on pages 14 and 15.) Col. Matthew Luzzatto, commander of the Army Corps’ Charleston office, stood as he listened to two hours of public comments. Most speakers highlighted the negative impacts from cruise ships and respectfully offered options to reduce them. Before making its decision to approve the permit, approve it with special conditions or deny it, the Corps will review all comments submitted by May 12, 2016.

The Corps previously approved a “maintenance” permit with no public comment, but citizens appealed. In 2013, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel tossed that permit and chastised the Corps’ review process saying, “The Army Corps of Engineers, unreasonably and unlawfully, restricted its ‘scope of analysis’ to an insignificant fraction of the project that lay within the agency’s jurisdiction.”

Real growth, real issues

The SPA submitted revealing information to the court. Quoting from the ruling, “The Ports Authority has acknowledged that a cruise ship terminal can ‘present special challenges’ in ‘managing automobile and pedestrian traffic,’ ‘protecting the environment,’ ‘and preserving Charleston’s unique character’ and ‘there are still lingering questions about how well the cruise ship business will fit into the context of this diverse, world class city.’” “Evidence provided by the Ports Authority supports the [opponents] claim … that the number of cruise ships and passengers has increased in recent years and the proposed new and larger passenger terminal would likely significantly increase the number and size of cruise ships visiting Charleston and the volume of cruise passengers in the historic Charleston waterfront.”

From 2000 to 2013, the number of Charleston’s cruise ship passengers increased by 547 percent. So with a new 100,000 sq.-ft. terminal featuring an 1800’ pier, the home-ported 2,056-passenger Carnival Ecstasy could be replaced with a 3,450-passenger ship, creating new impacts even under current limits. In that 2013 ruling, the Court, citing SPA data, concluded that simply to service this increased volume of passengers on an average cruise day, “up to 20 tractor trailers, 16 small trucks, 32 busses, 90 taxis and 1600-passenger vehicles would need access to the very confined” terminal area that “lies immediately adjacent to the Charleston Historic District and the Ansonborough neighborhood.”

What about even more ships, traffic and impacts? In January, Cruise Industry News Quarterly wrote, “While Carnival remains the port’s number one customer, there is the potential for another home-ported line, as the city recently completed doubling the size of its airport.” And the new Union Pier cruise terminal would be much larger, able to berth two ships simultaneously.

Last May at Charleston City Council, Jim Newsome, the SPA’s CEO, asserted that Charleston’s cruise business “is not a growth industry,” noting that in 2010, “we had 67 cruise ships.” He didn’t say that Charleston would host 93 port calls in 2015. This year, Charleston will host 100 ships. That sure looks like growth.

That ordinance doesn’t limit anything

We’re now just a few ships short of the SPA’s own voluntary limit of 104 ships per year. No worries, right, because of that much-heralded City Council ordinance passed to address to cruise concerns. But that ordinance didn’t limit anything. It only requires the SPA to notify the city one year in advance when plans to exceed the voluntary limits of 104 cruise ship visits or the 3,500-passenger maximum. So if the promise isn’t kept, there are no consequences.

On the night the ordinance passed, the SPA’s public relations director, Byron Miller, sent an email confirming the ordinance’s irrelevancy: “As you’ll recall, this ordinance does not limit or impact in any way the cruise business in Charleston.”

At last May’s City Council meeting, SPA CEO Jim Newsome, mostly reaffirmed this earlier quotation: “In my view, cruising is a maritime commerce business, not a tourism business,” he said. “It’s more like an airport. Sure they may stay a night or two before or after the cruise, but for us it’s about the maritime commerce.” That night he said, “Most of the cruise passengers … board the Carnival Fantasy to become tourists, but in Nassau and Freeport.”

Carnival cruisers are not coming to Charleston; they’re going through Charleston. So much for those touted economic benefits.

This time, it’s a different process

This time, the Corps must abide by the congressionally mandated Section 106 process to assess all environmental and historic impacts.

 

So it was confusing to hear Army Corps’ project manager Nat I. Ball’s opening at the hearing when he said that as a terminal was already in Charleston, “We’re focused on the changes that would occur … From what occurs at Union Pier today, we’re looking at that increment of change.”

That sparked a response from Blan Holman, managing attorney at the Charleston office of the Southern Environmental Law Center: “The Corps needs to consider this for what it is — a brand new and much larger cruise terminal in the heart of Charleston’s historic downtown. Calling a $35-million-dollar terminal ‘maintenance’ or treating this project as a nip and tuck takes us back to 2013 when we should be moving forward.”

Besides ship limits and alternate terminal locations, other issues beg for solutions, but the SPA hasn’t offered a single concession on any of them:

Shore power. The Coastal Conservation League’s Katie Zimmerman says that “nitrogen oxides and carbon oxides are not addressed by scrubbers” but that shore power virtually eliminates them, noting that the SPA’s “air quality monitor measures regional impacts, not localized hot spots.” “Additionally,” she said, “tests of scrubbers have shown possible increases in high concentrations of a number of harmful compounds in the water around the ships.

Though shore power will cost $4-5 million, that’s minor compared to the terminal’s $35 million price tag and the federal government has paid much of this cost at other ports.

Parking and traffic. Unbelievably, the SPA is planning for nine acres of surface parking at Union Pier on perhaps the most valuable undeveloped waterfront property in America. And even with a rail line available, the SPA has rebuffed remote parking solutions.

The Corps’ October 21-22 traffic study drew skepticism as it was done so soon after major flooding dampened tourism. The study showed increased cruise day traffic, but questions of validity suggest that it should be repeated this month.

Asymmetrical impacts. Charleston gets no revenue from cruise ships. No berthing fees, no head taxes and no property taxes — every dime goes to the SPA. Yet the city and its citizens bear all the heavy impacts of managing tourists driving in and spewing out from the terminal.

 

The concerns above help explain why some cities, after being badly damaged by cruise ship tourism like Venice and Hamilton, Bermuda, are moving cruise terminals away from the historic districts and city centers. Although Key West is now trying to limit cruise operations, it’s already too late to preserve what was there.

The vast majority of cruise critics are not seeking to end all cruises; however, noise, soot, traffic, water quality and ship and passenger scale must be regulated as any tourist business. Many citizens are saddened by the visual pollution of colossal modern cruise ships towering over iconic church steeples, shattering the ambiance and patina of this historic city; but, the noise, smells, traffic and pollution make them angry.

The SPA owns the Veterans and Columbus Street terminals, closer to highways and with more space. Given that the SPA considers a cruise terminal to be like an airport and refuses any tourism regulation or compromise on any issue, denying the permit at Union Pier may be only sensible solution.

 

Voice your opinion: Written comments on the proposed Union Pier cruise terminal must be received by May 12, 2016:

 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Regulatory Division

Attn: Nat Ball

69-A Hagood Ave.

Charleston, S.C. 29403

Letter: Clarifying cruise statement

We appreciate the coverage The Post and Courier has devoted to plans by the South Carolina State Ports Authority to build a new cruise terminal.

But in reference to The Post and Courier coverage of the Army Corps of Engineers public hearing, I would like to clarify a comment of mine:

Reporter David Wren chose only a snippet of my statement on behalf of Charleston Communities for Cruise Control. It did not accurately characterize our stance on this project.

Mr. Wren quoted me as saying the cruise industry represents “a threat to the very fabric of the city where so many of us live, work and love to visit.”

My full statement, read into the record at the hearing, was this: “Authorizing the SPA’s proposed new, larger cruise terminal without the appropriate considerations and without legally binding, enforceable limits is a threat to the very fabric of the city where so many of us live, work and love to visit.”

The key part of my comments, absent in The Post and Courier’s report, reflects our efforts to find compromise.

We are not against the cruise industry or the cruise terminal. But we strongly believe in the need for a balanced approach that promotes cruise tourism while at the same time preserves and protects the character and accessibility of the Historic District, a federally recognized historic landmark.

We are looking for solutions, not obstructions.

Carrie Agnew

Director, Communities

for Cruise Control

Legare Street

Charleston

Heed cruise critics’ concerns

Things haven’t changed much.

The South Carolina State Ports Authority is still intent upon building a new cruise ship terminal at the north end of Union Pier with a loading dock, parking and rain canopies.

And opponents are still alarmed by the impact that would have on air quality, traffic and the city’s Historic District, which is a National Historic Landmark.

But at least a new set of ears is now considering the debate: The Army Corps of Engineers, heard from about 30 people at a hearing Tuesday on the SPA plan. All but two spoke against the terminal. And a majority of the 115 in attendance appeared to side with them.

This is actually the second time the SPA has asked the Corps for permission to build the terminal. In 2012, the Corps agreed to a permit, but a federal judge reversed the decision because the Corps did not adequately consider environmental and historic preservation issues related to the project.

For example, the state and local medical societies have formally opposed the cruise plans because of hazardous emissions from ships idling at dock.

Steve Dopp, who owns the Francis Marion Hotel, said he can see the black soot wafting from cruise ships from his office on King Street.

The SPA has no plan to install shoreside power to fuel those ships as some other ports have done out of concern for people’s health.

Further, the SPA has refused a binding agreement to limit the number and size of cruise ships that visit here.

Jim Newsome, SPA president and CEO, has said he will alert the city of Charleston if the SPA ever decides to surpass 104 cruise ship visits per year carrying no more than 3,500 passengers per ship, but that promise is not in writing.

The reason people want formal limits on the size and frequency of cruise ships is that thousands of passengers spill out of ships onto busy downtown streets. They say the very fabric of the Historic District, which is crowded even without cruise ships, is jeopardized by the visitors and would be even more so if the SPA were to increase cruise ships business at a new, larger terminal.

The Southern Environmental Law Center would like the SPA to consider alternative sites for the terminal, but Mr. Newsome has said the Union Pier option is the only possibility.

So the next step will be up to the Corps of Engineers, whose project manager, Nat Ball, said the question will be whether the project would cause problems that don’t already exist with the SPA’s existing cruise ship operations.

Mr. Ball said issues like the size and frequency of cruise ships doing business here is not in the Corps’ purview.

But formalizing those limits is something that the SPA could do very easily.

Adding shore power for cruise ships would cost additional money, but it would be a sign that the SPA wants to be a good neighbor — and it might hasten the expensive approval process.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg won election last November with both shore power and formal cruise limits among key items on his platform.

The gulf between the opponents and proponents in this matter isn’t that wide. But it must be bridged to protect people’s health.

And that should happen before Charleston’s Historic District is damaged beyond repair.

Charleston residents give Army Corps an earful over cruise ship terminal plans

Calling the cruise ship industry “a threat to the very fabric of the city where so many love to work, live and visit,” Carrie Agnew — executive director of Charleston Communities for Cruise Control — echoed the views of a majority of people attending Tuesday’s public hearing over plans to build a new cruise ship terminal in Charleston.

While some who live near the proposed terminal said they support the project — “I have not been bothered at all by cruise ships,” said William Semmes — most residents and business owners asked the Army Corps of Engineers to reject the State Ports Authority’s plan to build a $35 million terminal on the north end of Union Pier.

“Cruise ships degrade the experience of the tourists that stay at the hotels and spend their money,” said Steven Dopp, owner of the Francis Marion Hotel at 387 King St. Dopp said that when he sits in his office at the hotel he can see black soot wafting from the cruise ships over the peninsula and he worries about the health impacts.

Dopp was among about 125 people who attended Tuesday’s hearing as part of the Army Corps’ process of deciding whether a permit for the terminal should be issued. The Army Corps will consider statements made Tuesday as well as documents submitted by the State Ports Authority and other groups before making a decision. About half of the people at the meeting already had submitted written comments on the proposal.

Col. Matthew Luzzatto, commander of the Army Corps’ Charleston office, said it is too early in the process to say when a permit decision will be made.

“Every permitting process has a unique set of challenges associated with it,” Luzzatto said, “This particular project has a lot of interest due to concerns about air quality, traffic and historic preservation.”

The Army Corps could approve or deny the SPA’s application or approve it with special conditions to make sure the project does not jeopardize endangered or threatened species or adversely impact critical habitat. The Army Corps also could require an Environmental Impact Statement, an in-depth study prepared by a third-party consultant, before making a decision.

Mike Mather, senior program communications manager for Southern Environmental Law Center, said the group is “not against the concept of a cruise terminal” but would like the Army Corps to consider alternatives to the current plan. “This permit process provides a fresh chance to look at all options,” Mather told The Post and Courier.

Those options include: building the terminal at another site; codifying limits on the number of ships and passengers that could visit if the terminal were built at Union Pier; and requiring technology, such as shore power, to reduce pollution.

“We are not opposed to a well-thought-out solution that best serves all needs,” Mather said.

The SPA wants to install five additional clusters of pilings beneath an old Union Pier warehouse that would be renovated as a cruise ship terminal. The project also would include a loading dock, parking areas, rain canopies, security fences and other items to support cruise ship operations.

SPA officials did not make any comments during Tuesday’s meeting, but did provide requested data and information the Army Corps and the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control used during their presentations.

“We are confident that the project will ultimately receive the necessary permit, allowing the SPA to move forward with the new terminal,” said Erin Dhand, spokeswoman for the maritime agency.

The Army Corps is limited in what it can consider in making a decision. For example, a permit could not address some residents’ concerns about more or bigger ships visiting Union Pier. Nat Ball, project manager for the Army Corps, said such decisions would be market-driven and “really beyond our purview.”

“You have to keep in mind that they are renovating an existing facility,” Ball said, adding that the end result would be moving cruise ship operations north by a few hundred feet. Ball said the SPA has operated a facility at the new terminal site for 40 years and “that’s something that certainly has bearing in this case.”

The Union Pier site is near the city’s Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and identified as a National Historic Landmark. That means the Army Corps must seek input from historic preservation groups as part of the permitting process. Those groups say the terminal could increase pollution and congestion and have asked the SPA to move the terminal north to Columbus Street Terminal or North Charleston.

Jim Newsome, the SPA’s president and CEO, has said Union Pier is the only viable location for a cruise terminal.

Ball said the Army Corps has been meeting in recent months with environmental and historic preservation groups to get their input. Those groups would have to show that any impact from the proposed project would create new problems that don’t exist with the SPA’s current cruise ship operations.

“Part of the analysis is to figure out if it’s a similar impact,” Ball said. “If it’s a similar impact, we wouldn’t ask someone to go above and beyond to mitigate impacts that exist today. If there’s something new that would occur, there could be that potential”

Cruise ship supporters say the industry is an important part of the tourism economy and a source of jobs. The SPA has said a new terminal would improve traffic patterns and allow nearby streets to stay open during embarkation and debarkation days. The plan also would include better lighting, landscaping and sidewalks.

Erin Mullen, who operates shore excursions for cruise ships docking in Charleston, said she supports the new terminal and doesn’t believe there are problems with pollution in the area. “I’ve been at the cruise terminal for 30 years with no ill effects,” Mullen said.

Semmes said the ships “clearly bring a lot of very wealthy Europeans and other visitors to our city and they do spend money.”

The terminal plan, which has been on the drawing board since 2010, would replace a nearby, early 1970s-era facility used mostly by Carnival Cruise Lines, which calls Charleston the home port for its Ecstasy ship.

This is the second time the SPA has sought federal authorization for a new cruise terminal. The Army Corps issued a permit in 2012 but a federal judge reversed the decision in 2013, saying environmental and historic preservation laws had not been addressed.

A separate state permit for the terminal is pending before the state Court of Appeals. A state administrative law judge previously ruled that residents and environmentalists lacked legal standing to oppose the state permit.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_

How to comment

If you could not attend Tuesday’s meeting but want to comment on plans for a new cruise ship terminal, the Army Corps of Engineers is accepting written statements through May 12. Send them to: Army Corps of Engineers, Regulatory Division; 69A Hagood Ave., Charleston, S.C. 29403.

Go to http://tinyurl.com/hltsrle for more information about the plan, including diagrams of the proposed terminal.

Charleston: Niche and Growing

“Within the context of the city of Charleston, we have a nice incremental bump up each year (in vessel calls),” said Peter Lehman, vice president of cruise and real estate for the port. 2015 closed with 94 calls, and 2016 is expected to bring in 99.

“We’re seeing an increase in overnight calls,” he said, “We’re a nice port and we have a nice, solid niche business in a lovely city.”

Charleston’s charm has seen the city grow its cruise profile year over year, now attracting a near-complete profile of lines stopping at the port – ranging from Carnival to Crystal.

While the cruise lines could not be named at press time, Lehman expected to add new customers in 2016 and 2017.

Carnival will swap out the Fantasy early this year, as the Ecstasy comes to homeport in town.

The Carnival Sunshine will also be in Charleston on and off, including a 10-day Carnival Journeys sailing leaving on May 30, with calls at St. Thomas, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts and San Juan, plus four sea days.

While Carnival remains the port’s number one customer, there is the potential for another homeported line, as the city recently completed doubling the size of its airport. Two thousand hotel rooms are being added, while Volvo has opened a nearby plant and Boeing is expanding its production in South Carolina.

“If the domino theory takes hold with new ships, maybe we’ll get a shot seasonally,” added Lehman. “Let them come in and test the market and do an assessment after the fact.”

Lehman believes the port is a natural fit for a Bermuda product and continues to search for a customer. However, business is still pretty good looking to the future.

“We’ve never had this many calls, on the books, this far out and we have calls through 2019,” he added.

Among the draws for passengers are plantation tours and Civil War history, plus an expanding cuisine scene in the city itself.

For businesses and residents, the Charleston Neighbor Advisory Council meets quarterly and includes speakers from the port, Conventions and Visitors Bureau and Carnival, addressing the cruise business and providing and open dialogue format.

Reef Damage Adds to Cruise Industry’s Image as Enemy of Environment

The cruise industry has always struggled with its environmental image. The “big three” cruise lines (Carnival, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean) were fined tens of millions of dollars collectively in the 1990’s and 2000’s for dumping pollutants into the water and lying to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Cruise lines argue that their days of dumping at sea are over.  But its hard to convince a skeptical public with YouTube broadcasting what is actually happening at sea. Like last year, when MSC crew members sent us several videos showing dumping of plastic bags off the mooring deck of a MSC Cruise Ship Dumpingcruise ship into a marine sanctuary at night.

The public is not as dumb as the cruise industry treats them.  Calling yourself a guardian of the seas is not going to work when you are caught by cruise passengers and your own crew members dumping plastic bags into a marine sanctuary over the side under the cover of night.

The cruise industry should be embarrassed after YouTube videos are now showing the destruction of a coral reef in the Cayman Islands by an anchor and chain dropped by the Pullmantur Zenith cruise ship (an old ship last operated by Celebrity Cruises), owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises.

Coral reefs and cruise lines, it seems, are as incongruous as cats and dogs. Just ask the formerly quaint little port of Falmouth, Jamaica where the port was dredged for Royal Caribbean’s monster ships, the Allure of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas to squeeze in, This required the destruction of some 35,000,000 cubic feet of coral reef and the annihilation of two square miles of mangroves which are now buried under pulverized reef material.

Last year, a Carnival cruise ship (the Magic) crushed a coral reef in the Caymans after a local pilot boat operated by Bodden Shipping Agency guided the Carnival cruise ship to anchor outside of the designated public port anchorage. You can read about that situation in Carnival Magic Crushes Coral Reef in Cayman Islands.

The Cayman Reporter described the situation as involving an “anchor on the reef rolling over the coral sending plumes of dust and broken coral in its wake.”  But the governing authority is the weak Department of the Environment of the Cayman Islands which did not even bothered to hold anyone responsible for last year’s massive damage to the coral reef by the dropping of the Carnival anchor. The agency has already exonerated the Zenith cruise operator and the harbor pilot from negligence. Royal Caribbean then immediately took advantage of this free pass to defend itself from criticism on Twitter, tweeting: “When Pullmantur Zenith arrived in Grand Cayman it was directed to a government-designated anchorage spot, not in a protected area.”

The fact of the matter is that live coral was directly under the Zenith cruise ship which made no efforts to verify the underwater conditions.

As the Huffington Post points out, the Cayman Islands’ Marine Conservation Laws, seen on the islands’ tourism website, state that “Damaging coral by anchor, chains or any other means ANYWHERE in Cayman waters is prohibited.”  This is clearly a case where the cruise line, the pilot agency and the Cayman’s Department of the Environment should all be held accountable. Strict liability (i.e., no-fault liability) should always apply in matters this important.

The ultimate irony, of course, is that protecting the Cayman’s beautiful reefs may well be a moot point. The country has decided to cater to the cruise industry’s goals of building a large dock, so that cruise ships no longer have to tender passengers ashore, which will sit over the reefs. This will require extensive dredge and fill operations which will destroy large portions of the island’s ancient coral reefs. Such is the result of a short sited, docile, tourism-dependent Caribbean nation trying to please its Miami coral-reef-destroying cruise line masters.

CHS | Vote Tuesday… Charleston’s future is at stake

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Charleston’s mayoral election.  The City is at a crossroads.   Traffic congestion has worsened; May is now gridlock.   Hundreds of new hotel rooms have just been built, and hundreds more have been permitted or are in the queue, yet no one has studied their impact.  A proposed new cruise terminal looms, one that the head of the State Ports Authority admits would be “like an airport,” yet the current mayor has no interest in moving it from the Historic District or mitigating any of the impacts.  Most importantly, no one but this blog will report on how lifting the embargo against Cuba, once formalized, will increase cruise passenger traffic in and out of Charleston’s harbor.  
 
Major developments including recent (and potentially proposed) Sergeant Jasper, the West Edge, the new Children’s Hospital and others will lock up traffic on Lockwood Boulevard and make the commute to West Ashley almost impossible.  The only proposed solution…bike lanes…   The flooding, the aging infrastructure, the crumbling Battery wall…
What we do not need is another mayor who will continue to look the other way.  We need a mayor who will hit the pause button on growth and development-at-any-cost and pull out one of the many thoughtful plans and begin to work with the community on real solutions.
 
The Charleston Mercury believes “one candidate stands out from the group; he is civic leader and businessman John Tecklenburg. Mr. Tecklenburg crossed the Rubicon of Charleston politics when he decided to oppose the Beach Company’s plans to redevelop the Sergeant Jasper Apartments. He stood up to a longstanding ally and took a path of principle that endeared his candidacy to many Charlestonians. This is not the place to re-launch that tug of war, but it boiled down to a candidate showing clearly that he has ears to hear his constituents.”(1)
 
Endorsing John Tecklenburg, The Post and Courier admits that the next mayor “will have his hands full,” but says “Mr. Tecklenburg recognizes the challenges, and has the ability, experience and temperament to meet them effectively. He is a retired business executive, and he served for eight years as Mayor Joe Riley’s director of economic development. The affable Mr. Tecklenburg will bring a thoughtful approach to a difficult job.”  
 
What will he do?  Tecklenburg “calls for a moratorium on new hotel construction until restrictions can be put into place in consultation with residents, historic preservation groups and neighborhood associations. He would similarly invoke a ‘pause’ in approving special events that increasingly cause traffic, parking problems and noise in city neighborhoods,” editorialized the P&C, and quoted Tecklenburg saying that “we need to redirect our focus on the things that affect our livability.”  “Those things,” writes the P&C, “include housing affordability, traffic management and improved transportation. He would encourage city incentives for affordable housing, and would urge the Charleston Housing Authority to provide additional units for low-income people through better utilization of the agency’s land holdings.”(2)  And Tecklenburg would do a much-needed performance audit on all city departments to ensure we’re getting our money’s worth (long overdue, by the way).  
 
John Tecklenburg promises to work with other jurisdictions to create regional solutions for planning, transportation, and mass transit.
 
Only one candidate has run a positive campaign, and only one candidate has offered a comprehensive plan for making Charleston livable in the future, Charleston native John Tecklenburg.  We join The Mercury, The Post and Courier, Charleston Currents (3), Ginny Deerin, Henry Fishburne, Sen. Robert Ford and many others endorsing JOHN TECKLENBURG for Mayor.  Please be sure to VOTE.
Jay
#  #   #
 
 
1) Charleston Mercury endorsement:
 
2) Post and Courier’s endorsement:
 
3) Charleston Currents endorsement:

CHS | That proposed Cruise Terminal – Where are we now?

Two years ago, United States District Court Judge Richard Gergel handed the cruise terminal opponents their first victory, tossing the SPA’s federal permit to build a proposed $35 million terminal at Union Pier and blasting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to adequately review the project’s effects on the area saying, “I think you did an end run. You gave this permit a bum’s rush.”

This time around, the Corps promises a thorough job.

The battle lines are being drawn. At the first “consultation process” hearing on October 22, the APE, or “Area of Potential Effects,” became the focus. Participants responded to a series of questions about the impacts on Charleston’s buildings on the National Historic Register and its National Historic Landmark status.

The SPA argued that the APE must be tightly drawn around the terminal property. “Not so fast,” opponents say. Cars, buses and taxis must travel through the Historic District creating immense traffic just to transport passengers to the terminal; the smog, soot and noise drifts well beyond the terminal compromising homes and human health; and cruise passengers swarm like ants over the City causing congestion and impacts well beyond the terminal area.

Yet SPA CEO Jim Newsome reiterated his claim that cruise ships are part of Charleston’s history. He said that cruise ships are “maritime commerce,” meaning that passengers aren’t tourists and can’t be regulated. If they visit the Historic District, he asserted, that’s just incidental. The SPA’s contracted study claims that only four to six percent of tourism comes from cruise passengers.

Meanwhile, Mayor Joseph Riley professed that cruise ships are good for Charleston, that redevelopment of the Southern portion of Union Pier would be a boon to the City.

Opponents of these assertions were ready.

Historic Charleston Foundation’s Christopher Cody showed historic photos of ships in the harbor and said “it’s improbable that historically more than a few hundred passengers per day would have used Charleston’s port.” Thousands of cruise passengers, “potentially over 7,000 at a time, represent a new use of the harbor and a concentrated intrusion that’s inappropriate for our historic district’s scale and layout. Just because cruise ships are boats doesn’t automatically make them related to our traditions of maritime commerce.”

“We believe the impacts cannot be limited to the fence line of the Port property,” said Kristopher King, Executive Director of The Preservation Society, because the court directed the Corps to “consider both the direct and indirect effects on historic properties within and outside the permit area.” King also cited the SPA’s own Brockington Associates study that admits that “cruise passengers will represent 25-40 percent of vehicular traffic in the Historic District” when those ships are in town.

Interviewed later, King added, “The Corps must consider direct and indirect impacts on the use and character of our National Landmark District consisting mainly of single family dwellings which the SPA’s historic assessment admits may be impacted.”

Other meetings will be scheduled, and we will update you.

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr., published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and discussions about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is involved with various local organizations, the opinions he expresses are solely his; they do not represent the views of any organization or other individual.  Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. We present these blogs for C4 website visitors as an information source and as an additional way to chronologically follow the debates, commentaries and discussions about cruise tourism in Charleston.