Jay’s Blog

CHS | A hollow victory at City Council?

Those favoring regulating toxic cruise ship pollution won a hollow victory Tuesday night.   Facing an overflow crowd of concerned citizens, the Charleston City Council passed resolution that “the city supports the actions of the state General Assembly in assuring funding is available for shore power at the new terminal when needed.”(1) [emphasis supplied]   In spite of the 10-2 vote, the fragility of the City Council’s commitment came with the final two words, “when needed,” words that were added in the last moments to obtain majority support.  And without the strong endorsements of Councilmen William Dudley Gregorie and Mike Seekings, even this weakened resolution wouldn’t have gone anywhere.(2,3)

Eliminating the soot, smoke and sulphur dioxide wafting over Charleston caused by cruise ships idling in port is such an obviously good idea, you’d think everyone would be for it.  But they’re not.  According to the Post and Courier, “[Mayor Joe] Riley has said that the city should allow SPA (SC Ports Authority) time to figure out if shoreside power will be needed at the new cruise terminal.”  Really, Mr. Mayor?  They’ve already wasted years; how much time do they need?  And even with the squishy language of the resolution, two Council members, Rodney Williams and Dean C. Riegel, still voted against it.  Reigel said that the SPA’s presentation showed that a resolution would not be necessary since it could limit the agency’s efforts to control emissions.  Councilman Riegal said, “I see no need for a resolution, I think they are doing all the right things.”(1)  If doing nothing is doing all the right things, he’s right.

Jim Newsome, the SPA’s CEO, made that 10-minute presentation before the vote.  He claims that the 25-year-old “Fantasy” will be retrofitted with “scrubbers” that will reduce sulpher dioxide and soot when it goes into dry dock in October, 2015, and the SPA plans to add an air quality monitor to the new terminal.  But even after years of complaints about soot, smoke, and health issues caused by cruise ships, neither has been done, and even the promise that anything will happen is a year and a half away.  Let’s be real: the ancient “Fantasy” isn’t far from the scrap heap, “scrubbers” are a weaker substitute for shoreside power in removing pollutants and particulates, and “scrubbers” on the “Fantasy” won’t stop airborne pollution from other cruise ships calling at Charleston.

We’ve witnessed Carnival’s murky environmental record on the TV news, but do you also sense the SPA’s lack of concern?(4)

Jim Newsome parsed his words when he said there “is no data that cruise ships create a health issue in Charleston.”  Note that prepositional phrase, “in Charleston.”  Because cruise ships do pollute, and there’s lots of data.(5,6,7)  But if that statement didn’t give you a sense of Jim Newsome’s commitment to reduce cruise ship emissions, consider this one: “I think the general thrust is that they [the Council] endorse that we are doing what is best to improve air quality in the harbor and we will see where it goes from there.”

Are you breathing easier?

In 2012, in an op-ed written by Dr. Stephen Schabel of the Charleston County Medical Society, he noted a proposed resolution claiming that the “average cruise ship discharges four times the amount of airborne pollutants, especially sooty particulates, compared to the average cargo ship, thus affecting residents and visitors when ships run their engines continuously…for hours while passengers embark and disembark.”   Dr. Schabel added, “The effects of airborne pollutants have been shown to include increased chronic respiratory and heart diseases and increased cancer risk, especially among dockworkers, merchants and residents closest to the docks” and that “onshore power” reduces “airborne cruise ship pollutants by up to 90%.”(8)

It’s sad that the same City Council that stomped out smoking on the sidewalks around our hospitals has never attempted to regulate far more serious toxic emissions from cruise ships in port–or demand the obvious healthy shore power alternative.

#   #    #

–Jay Williams, 27 Feb 14

 

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.

1)  Charleston City Council approves resolution supporting shoreside power – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140225/PC05/140229627/1010/charleston-city-council-approves-resolution-supporting-shoreside-power

2)  Charleston City Council to address support for shoreside power…  – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140218/PC05/140219326/1010/city-council-to-address-support-for-shoreside-power-at-downtown-cruise-terminal

3) Shore power is the wave of the local cruise future – Mike Seekings – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140224/PC1002/140229768

4)  Disney Gets Top Grade on Cruise Ship pollution Report – USA Today
http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2013/10/23/cruise-ship-pollution/3170463/

5)  2013 Cruise ships pollution – Friends of the Earth
http://www.foe.org/cruise-report-card

6)  Air samples at cruise ship docks worldwide – Friends of the Earth
http://www.foe.org/news/archives/2013-12-air-samples-at-cruise-ship-docks-worldwide-find-dangerous-soot-lvls

7)  Harboring Pollution – strategies to clean up U.S. Ports – Natural Resources Defense Council
http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution/ports/execsum.asp

8)  Reduce the risks of air pollution from cruise ships – Dr. Stephen Schabel, Charleston County Medical Society – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20120308/ARCHIVES/303089919

CHS | Why we’re lucky to have the Post and Courier

There are big differences in journalistic integrity among today’s newspapers.  Some papers refuse to be self-critical, some papers stifle comments and opinions opposed to their editorial positions, are critical of the paper or one of their reporters or columnists.   Some were once “great newspapers” that became great by reporting stories honestly and serving as a forum for an open public discourse of issues and ideas.   But in the industry’s new era of cost-cutting, media bias and compromise, many have slipped.
Today the editors of Charleston’s Post and Courier demonstrated greatness.  It wasn’t simply because they published the op-ed below, but because this particular op-ed openly criticized the viewpoint of a popular columnist.  They didn’t have to publish it.  No one would have known.  But they published it.  Unedited.  Charles Rowe and the P&C editorial board deserve credit.  We’re fortunate to have a newspaper in Charleston run by people who still care about journalism’s highest calling.

Here’s that op-ed: “Court keeping a Close Eye on Cruise Issue.”

BY JAY WILLIAMS

If Brian Hicks and Mayor Joe Riley are your only information sources about the proposed Union Pier cruise terminal project, you may be forgiven for not knowing much about it. Especially about two of the most recent lawsuits.

A recent Hicks column began, “The State Supreme Court was pretty dismissive to the ‘cruise control’ crowd last month” before saying that the justices “were sort of condescending.” And “if that wasn’t dismissive enough,” Hicks continued, “Mayor Riley called the lawsuit ‘almost laughable’ from the start.”

Fortunately, there are more nuanced commentators…

Please continue reading in today’s printed Post and Courier or at this link:

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140218/PC1002/140219420/1021/court-keeping-a-close-eye-on-cruise-issue

 

 

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.

CHS | The Lawsuits; what you may not know

CHS |  The Lawsuits; what you may not know

If Brian Hicks and Mayor Riley are your only information sources about the proposed Union Pier cruise terminal project, you can be forgiven for not knowing much about it.  Especially about two of the most recent lawsuits.

The most recent Hicks column began, “The State Supreme Court was pretty dismissive to the ‘cruise control’ crowd last month” before saying that the justices “were sort of condescending.”  And “if that wasn’t [sic] dismissive enough,” Hicks continued, “Mayor Riley called the lawsuit ‘almost laughable’ from the start.”(1)  Fortunately for Charleston, there are more nuanced commentators.

It’s correct that the SC Supreme Court dismissed the case concerning Carnival Cruise Line’s alleged violations of local and nuisance ordinances on a technicality, saying that the various neighborhood and preservation organizations weren’t the proper parties to make these claims.  But the court also said that individuals could bring claims in a separate lawsuit.(2,3)   Importantly, the court did not say any of the claims lacked merit, and as new claims may be raised against Carnival in the future, the suggestion that the court was “condescending” or that the claims are “laughable” is pure spin.

In a separate statement, Blan Holman, the Southern Environmental Law Center attorney representing the plaintiff’s noted that, “Today’s court ruling did not address whether Carnival’s home basing operation complies with local ordinances, or whether it is a nuisance that interferes with the property rights of neighboring home owners, as the plaintiffs alleged.”(4)  These are the allegations that Mr. Hicks and the mayor have elected to ignore.  Then there’s that second case…

Last September, as U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel tossed out the federal permit for the planned $35 million cruise terminal at Union Pier, he minced no words declaring that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately review the project’s impacts on the area.  Chastising the Corps’ attorneys, Judge Gergel said, “I think you did an end run, you gave this permit the bum’s rush.”   Refusing to accept the SPA’s specious argument that the waterfront terminal only needed a federal permit to install five new pilings, the judge told the defendants’ attorneys, “You have an obligation to look at the entire project.  “You haven’t done what the law requires you to do by reducing a 108,000-square-foot project to 41 square feet of pilings. The process got distorted by limiting it to five piers.”(6)  This blog correctly predicted that the SPA and Army Corps would defiantly appeal the ruling, and they did before reconsidering their position last month.(7)

Because of this ruling, the Army Corps of Engineers must conduct a thorough review of all the environmental and historic impacts of locating a giant new cruise terminal at Union Pier.  Such reviews are very specific and Congressionally-mandated in these situations.  This is the same requirement that the SPA tried to evade earlier in its head-on rush to build a terminal before anyone might realize of all of its potential impacts.  Brian Hicks and Mayor Riley are no doubt upset by that failure to comport with the law.

Most importantly, Judge Gergel also highlighted the central problem of locating a cruise terminal near the heart of Charleston’s Historic District, arguably South Carolina’s centerpiece of tourism, culture, and economic development.  As the AP reported, “the judge said that there is evidence in the 1,200-page court record that the terminal is being designed for larger ships than now call and could more than triple the number of cruise passengers visiting the city.”(6)   And “triple” may be an understatement.

Later in his column, Brian Hicks wrote, “This is not over by a long shot.”  For that, he should be thankful.  Now there’s an opportunity during this federally-mandated process for the Army Corps to seek honest local input, do a thorough study of impacts, and research alternative locations for a cruise terminal.  Those contrived State Ports Authority “citizen input sessions” won’t cut it this time–a federal court will be watching.

Jay, 11 Feb 14

#   #    #

1)  Over, Cruise ship fight isn’t over until we say it is – Brian Hicks – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140202/PC16/140209942/1177/over-cruise-ship-fight-isnt-over-until-we-say-it-is

2)  Limit Cruise ship consequences on peninsula – Steve Gates – P&C
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20140204/PC1002/140209796/1021/limit-cruise-ship-consequences-on-peninsula

3) SC High Court throws out Cruise pollution case – Law 360
http://www.law360.com/articles/503095/sc-high-court-throws-out-carnival-cruise-pollution-case

4)  Supreme Court leaves legality of Cruise Harms in Historic Charleston unanswered  – Blan Holman, SELC
http://www.southernenvironment.org/newsroom/press_releases/supreme_court_leaves_legality_of_cruise_ship_harms_in_historic_charleston_u/

5)  SC Supreme Court tosses lawsuit seeking to block cruise ship operations – Meg Kinnard – AP
http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/travel/241519801.html

6)  Judge tosses permit for SC Cruise Terminal – Bruce Smith – AP
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/judge-tosses-federal-permit-sc-cruise-terminal

7)  SPA and Army Corps of Engineers withdraw cruise terminal permit appeal – Charleston Business Journal
https://www.charlestonbusiness.com/news/50021-spa-army-corps-of-engineers-to-withdraw-cruise-terminal-permit-appeal

 

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.

CHS | After losing its permit, the SPA will surely compromise. Ah, no.

CHS | After losing its permit, the SPA will surely compromise.  Ah, no.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers failed to comply with the “formal assessment and consultative requirements” of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) before awarding the SC Ports Authority (SPA) a permit to transform “a previously permitted transit shed…into a modern state-of-the-art $35-million cruise ship passenger terminal” at Union Pier in Charleston.

The Army Corps, for unknown and probably unknowable reasons, had determined that complying with the NEPA and NHPA assessments was unnecessary because “the proposed activity will result in minimal individual and cumulative adverse environmental effects.”  The project, the Corps said, would qualify as “maintenance,” and stated that the cruise terminal project had “no potential to cause effects on historic properties.”

Judge Gergel ruled otherwise. The Army Corps of Engineers, he said, ignored its responsibilities to do a proper assessment under the controlling NEPA and NHPA acts by saying that it was limiting its review to only five new pilings to support elevators and escalators that would come in contact with navigable waters.  That argument, the Court said, is “plainly inconsistent with the Army Corps’ own regulation…which provides for jurisdiction involving ‘any structure in or over any navigable water in the United States.'”   In his conclusion, the judge went farther, saying that rather than consider “all the activities in its jurisdiction under the Rivers and Harbors Act ‘in its scope of analysis,’ 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.”

“By omitting more than 99% of the project within its jurisdiction…  “The Court finds that the Army Corps’ limitation of the ‘scope of analysis’ to five concrete pile clusters was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, and contrary to law.”

Almost equally disturbing were the SPA’s own statements and data that it presented 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.'”  “Record evidence provided by the Ports Authority supports the [opponent’s] 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.”  By 2012, the number of ships visiting Charleston had increased by 86% over “the 2005-2009 five-year average.”

And the SPA also gave us a glimpse into a far worse future.  With a new terminal, the 1990’s-era, 855’, 2,056-passenger Carnival “Fantasy” will be replaced with ships carrying 3,450 passengers.  And based on the SPA’s data, the Court concluded, “Even if the Ports Authority maintained its voluntary cap of 104 cruise ship visits a year(2), this would represent a 131% increase over the 2005-2009 five year average and a 24% increase from 2012.”   And to service such a volume of passengers, the Court noted, the SPA estimates that on an average embarkation and disembarkation day, “up to twenty tractor trailers, sixteen small trucks, thirty-two busses, ninety 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.”

So how do you think the SPA reacted to the ruling?   Did it agree to comply, did it suggest a compromise, or did it offer to study another, less invasive location for a terminal?   No.  It appealed.  The appeal came in spite of the SPA’s own website that appears to invalidate any argument that their project could be considered “maintenance”:  “…Charleston is an ideal cruise port.  With an efficiently run operation and plans for a new state-of-the-art cruise terminal, our port is ready to welcome cruise operators and travelers alike.”(3)  Yes, and with the widening of the Panama Canal and a newly prosperous Chinese middle class, are we to believe that those ships of the future will carry only 3,450 travelers?

But if you’re looking for relief from Charleston’s mayor or its complacent, compliant City Council, forget it.  Mayor Joseph Riley recently reiterated his total lack of interest in regulating cruise ship tourism.(4)   So it’s up to the courts.

Oral arguments in another case will be presented this Tuesday, this one at the SC Supreme Court.(5)   Carnival Cruise Lines will argue to dismiss charges that it’s violating zoning ordinances, permitting requirements and creating a nuisance.(6)  True to form, both the SPA and the City of Charleston intervened in this case on behalf of…the defendant, not on behalf of the residents, organizations and associations trying to protect Charleston from the accelerating threat of unregulated cruise ship tourism.

Surely the SC Supreme Court read Judge Richard Gergel’s decision and recognizes the defendant’s fallacious assertion that their massive floating resorts can tie up at will, disgorge thousands of people simultaneously onto the world’s most cherished historic places, and then ignore every rule and regulation these historic places have developed to protect their history, culture and quality of life.  Or must degradation accompany this exploitation?

Jay, 15 Nov 13

—-
1)   U.S. District of South Carolina, Charleston Division, Court Decision.  Preservation Society and Coastal Conservation League vs. US Army Corps of Engineers and SC Ports Authority
<Federal Cruise Permit SJ Order 9-18-13.pdf>

2)  The SPA has steadfastly refused to commit those “voluntary limits” in to legally binding limits.
“This Charleston Harbor Battle is over Cruise Ships” – NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/20/us/battle-in-genteel-charleston-over-cruise-ships.html?_r=0

3)  South Carolina Ports website – Cruise Charleston page
http://www.port-of-charleston.com/cruises/cruises.asp

4)  Reports of Mayor Joseph Riley’s comments at the membership meeting of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Assn., 29 Oct 13.

5)  South Carolina Supreme Court, Register of Cases for November, 2013.  Look for first case on 19 November.
http://www.judicial.state.sc.us/supremeRosters/dspSupRosterMenu.cfm

6)  “Carnival Cruise Lines asks for Dismissal of Suit” – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20110810/PC05/308109921

 

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.

Jay’s Newest Post: Can a federal judge save Charleston from becoming Venice?

Can a federal judge save Charleston from becoming Venice?

In the nick of time, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel tossed the permit for the SPA’s (SC State Port’s Authority) planned $35 million cruise terminal in Charleston.  The judge ruled that the US Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately review the project’s impacts on the area, accused the Crops of “doing an end run,” and chastised the Corps’ attorneys: “You gave this permit the bum’s rush.”(1)

Noting the problems the large cruise terminal could create for the environment and the city’s historic district, among the several critical impacts that should have been carefully studied, but weren’t, Judge Gergel told the Corps’ attorneys, “You have an obligation to look at the entire project. You haven’t done what the law requires you to do by reducing a 108,000 square-foot project to 41-square feet of pilings. The process got distorted by limiting it to five piers.”

The judge noted that within the 1,200 pages of documents that there is evidence “that the terminal is being designed for larger ships than now call and could more than triple the number of cruise passengers visiting the city,” according to Bruce Smith’s Associated Press report.(2)  The judge said, “Somehow the Corps has reduced a major project to something that is less than 1 percent of the project.  I feel like I’m a nanny here trying to get you to do what Congress intends.”   The judge did not say, but we will, that the existing pier at Union Pier is 1800′, easily long enough to accommodate any of the largest ships afloat!

The SPA’s relentless “hurry up” rush to build a new cruise terminal at Union Pier near downtown was, temporarily, at least, placed “in irons” by the decision.  The judge’s formal ruling could come at any time and will likely be issued within the next 30 days.  And what happens next will likely depend on Judge Gergel’s written order.

Swimmers take venice

Swimmers take venice

(photo credit: Protesters leapt into Venice’s Giudecca Canal to block cruise ships inside the port last week  They and 1,000 supporters say that the cruise ships tower over the historic rooftops and drown the city in tourism. Photo: Getty Images (3))

We’re “not sure if that [order] will require SPA to ‘reapply’ but it will presumably require the Corps to reexamine SPA’s application by looking not just at the pilings needed for a new cruise terminal, but the cruise terminal itself,” Blan Holman, managing attorney of the Charleston office for the Southern Environmental Law Center informed this blog.  “That is, the Corps would need to consider the impacts of building a new cruise terminal, and, as well, options for reducing or avoiding those impacts.  Shore power, satellite parking, limits on ship size and number, alternative [terminal] locations — these come to mind,” adding, “And it’s possible that the Corps and the SPA will appeal that ruling…”   Holman noted that there are two other lawsuits pending, “One is a challenge to DHEC’s approvals for the terminal; that matter is currently pending before the SC Administrative Law Court (ALC).”  And “The third piece of litigation is the lawsuit filed by several neighborhood associations, the Preservation Society, and the Conservation League against Carnival for violating zoning ordinances, permitting requirements and creating a nuisance.”

The importance of the judge’s written order can’t be overstated.  The impacts of cruise tourism, as the severely damaged city of Venice has found out, are varied and immense.  Last Saturday, when this Venice picture was snapped, unusual circumstances had allowed 12 cruise ships to head past St. Mark’s Square in one day!  The main problem in Venice, as a speaker informed the Preservation Society’s cruise conference last year, is that ships are permitted to dock adjacent to the historic city, are creating incredible, irreversible impacts to the city’s historic foundations, culture, civil structure, and local populace–over half of whom have left the city in the past three decades.  The only solution now, said the expert, is to move the port across to the mainland, away from the city; that would dramatically reduce the impacts.  That could be a solution in Charleston, too, as the Corps was required to study alternate locations for the terminal–and never did.

Judge Gergel’s decision is good news for Charleston.  “We welcome this ruling because it clarifies the obligation the SPA has to protect the environment and the historic character of the city.  We hope this will open the door for more productive discussions about how to best deal with cruise traffic in Charleston,” Dana Beach, executive director of the Coastal Conservation League, told this blog.

We welcome it, too.  And we hope it forces the SPA and the city to look beyond their immediate interests and agendas and into the future.  Because that future will be crammed with ever-growing numbers of ever-larger cruise ships carrying millions more passengers every single year.(4)   Once upon a time, cruise ships weren’t a problem in Venice.  Now they are, and any solution will cost hundreds of billions–and come too late to save Venice.

–Jay, 24 Sept 13

#   #    #

1)  Judge docks Charleston Cruise Terminal Study – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130912/PC05/130919772

2)  Judge tosses federal permit for SC cruise terminal – Bruce Smith/AP
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/09/12/3622606/judge-tosses-federal-permit-for.html

3)  Protesters dive into Venice canal to protest cruise ships – The Telegraph (UK)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/10326417/Protesters-dive-into-Venice-canal-to-block-cruise-ships.html

4)  Growth of the Cruise line industry – Cruise Market Watch
http://www.cruisemarketwatch.com/growth/

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr. and published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and commentary about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is a C4 Advisory Board member and a board member of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Assn., the opinions he expresses are his alone; they are not intended to represent C4 or any other organization or any member of any organization. Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. These blogs provide C4 website visitors an additional information source regarding the cruise terminal debates and discussions in Charleston.

 

Jay’s Latest Blog

BULLETIN:

Federal U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel tossed out the federal permit that was required to build the SPA’s (SC State Ports Authority) proposed new cruise terminal at Union Pier near downtown Charleston.(1)

After reviewing hundreds of pages of briefs and documents and hearing two hours of oral testimony, the judge ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not adequately review all the necessary criteria before issuing the permit and that its analysis was flawed by limiting it to installing the pilings. This marks a huge victory for conservationists and preservationists who had argued that the Corps did not take into consideration any of the impacts that a new terminal would have on the environment, the city or the historic districts before issuing its now jettisoned permit. The Corps and the SPA had argued that the installation of five new clusters of pilings underneath a building that was already used for maritime purposes would have little impact, but neighborhood, civic, and preservations groups, media outlets and this blog successfully argued that the permitting process itself had mandated a wider review.

“The scope of the analysis was done wrong,” Judge Gergel said in court today. This is one of three lawsuits filed against the cruise terminal that many opponents have charged will bring more unregulated tourists, traffic, congestion, noise and pollution into an area that could be permanently damaged as a result.(2) The SPA, the state legislature, and the city have all refused to put any restrictions on the rapidly growing cruise industry or its operations in Charleston.

–Jay, 12 Sept 13

1) Judge tosses federal permit for $35 million cruise terminal – Associated Press
http://www.live5news.com/story/23411575/sc-cruise-lawsuit-being-heard-in-federal-court

2) Back to drawing board for Army Corps… – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20130912/PC05/130919772/federal-judge-orders-more-review-in-cruise-terminal-permit

 

Written by jwilliams
The Charleston Cruise Control Blog, written by Jay Williams, Jr. and published periodically since May, 2011, consists of opinions and commentary about cruise ship tourism. Although Jay is a C4 Advisory Board member and a board member of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Assn., the opinions he expresses are his alone; they are not intended to represent C4 or any other organization or any member of any organization. Mr. Williams is an independent blogger/writer. These blogs provide C4 website visitors an additional information source regarding the cruise terminal debates and discussions in Charleston.

Cruise Ship Docks May Be Good for Business, but Some Charleston Residents Want Them Gone

Imagine yourself reclined on a cruise ship, sipping piña coladas, and leisurely moving through the ocean to the next stop along your week-long journey. What could be more idyllic?

Now, imagine the thick clouds of smoke, the swarms of tourists and all of the noise that cruise ships bring to port cities. That’s the experience that a group of homeowners in Charleston, South Carolina associate with these gigantic ships docking in their quaint, historic downtown.

They don’t want the city to expand its cruise terminal — at least not in the historic district, where some buildings date back to the 1700’s.

But the City of Charleston is doing all it can to push back, saying that millions of dollars worth of tourist dollars are at stake.

It’s one issue that mirrors some of the complex problems that arise with an expanding cruise line industry. This debate has grown more traction in the wake of Carnival Cruise Lines’ Triumph’s on-board fire caught fire last week. Reporter Kim Severson, at our partner The New York Times, wrote about the growing pushback against the cruiseline industry in coastal cities around the country.

The Trauma on the “Triumph”

Kalin Hill/Kalin Hill, via Associated Press

“Weary and miserable, sickened by the stench of sewage,” the last of more than 4,200 passengers and crew hobbled off the Carnival “Triumph” Friday, “after tugboats lugged it to the Alabama shore and finally brought an end to a five-day floating nightmare,” “the agony prolonged by a snapped cable connecting the ship to one of four tugboats,” NBC News reported early today.(1)  “In the sweltering heat, passengers set up tent cities on outdoor decks, hoping to catch a breeze or simply unwilling to endure the stench emanating from inside.”  Other reports tell of tempers flying, overflowing toilets, “squishy carpets,” long lines for food, sickened passengers, children “hysterically crying” and “sewage running down the walls and floors.”(2) “The ship’s afloat, so is the sewage,” said a passenger.

The horrific five-day ordeal that began Sunday when a fire erupted on the 13-year-old Carnival “Triumph” cruise ship that knocked out power, leaving it adrift in the Gulf “without propulsion, with little running water, less electricity, and utterly bereft of sanitation.”(3)  Passengers alternately endured 90-degree heat and cold rainstorms, many forced out of their cabins as the inoperable toilets and broken air-conditioning systems made the stench and running sewage unbearable.

Under conditions described as “vile,” “filthy,” and “horrible,” one passenger texted, “Room smells like an outhouse. Cold water only, toilets haven’t work in 3 1/2 days…”It’s 4:00 am. Can’t sleep…it’s cold & I’m starting to get sick.”  Another passenger, Renee Shaner, told the AP, “People have gotten food poisoning. Old people have fallen and hurt themselves.”  Another passenger reported “terrible” conditions, standing in line three hours just to get a hot dog, being forced to urinate in the shower, and using plastic bags to go to the bathroom.(4)

Yet as the crises worsened, Carnival CEO Gerry Cahill merely called conditions on the ship “challenging.”(5)   Appearing under-informed, perhaps he needed a thesaurus to adequately describe the catastrophe on-board.  Days later, he more profusely apologized.

“The problems of the “Triumph” fit into a larger picture, too, one painted by a booming cruise industry that increasingly is priced for the middle class but that critics say has become too large too fast and needs stronger, more consistent oversight,” a New York Times story written by Kim Severson and other reporters noted, adding, “[w]ith the industry’s popularity has come concerns over safety, pollution and the impact of thousands of tourists.  Communities including Key West, Fla.; Sitka, Alaska; and Charleston, S.C., are weighing the economic gains against the cultural and environmental impact of an industry with ships that can accommodate more than 6,000 people.  ‘There are more ships out there, so we are seeing a higher number of incidents like this, and that is not good for the cruise industry,’ said Ross Klein, a faculty member at Memorial University in Newfoundland who has testified before Congress on the safety and environmental impact of cruise ships.”(6)

Inopportunely and only days before the “Triumph’s” horror show, South Carolina State Ports CEO Jim Newsome emailed, “Cruise ships, like any of the other ships calling our port, represent maritime commerce activity that is essential to supporting our local maritime community.”  Codswallop, Mr. Newsome.  Cruise ships aren’t like “any of the other ships,” they aren’t essential, and they represent only a small fraction of port revenues.

Cruise ships are sardine cans packed with passengers and crew, susceptible to horrific accidents that instantly can put thousands at risk for their lives.  Although everyone has seen the sunken Carnival-owned Costa Concordia that took 33 passenger lives, few know that there have been 79 cruise ship fires since l990.  Former Carnival Cruise Lines senior executive Jay Herring admits, “There are so many moving parts and things that can go wrong.”(7)  In the case of the Carnival “Triumph,” they did.  The NY Daily News wrote that “the interior portions of the 14-story ship have been turned into a sweltering, gut churning sauna far removed from the vision of the boat as ’24 hours of fun a day’ that the company promotes on its website.”  One person related: “It’s like a bunch of savages on there.”(8)   We’re unlikely to find out all that may have happened.

These people getting off the “Triumph” in Mobile are sick, some may be infected with nanoviruses; the crew (given credit by many passengers for their efforts) may be in worse shape; and certainly the ship itself is filthy and contaminated.  These cruise ships, owned by foreign owned corporations, are not subject to the rigorous inspections required of ships registered in the US, their crews are also not given the same working condition protections, and, in fact, the Bahamian authorities will lead this accident investigation. “The result is that cruise ships are largely unregulated,” says maritime lawyer James Walker on CNN’s website.(9)  Yet the potential for sickness, viruses and disease coming ashore is another important reason that cruise terminals must be isolated–kept apart and isolated for the safety of concentrated, general population areas.  It’s not just the taxis, the provisioning trucks, the toxic soot and continuous noise, the parking, pollution and traffic problems, the requirements for ship and food safety, dangerous weapons and border security–the health of our residents is another reason why Charleston’s proposed large-scale cruise terminal must not be built at Union Pier downtown.

1)  Tempers started flying; passengers tell of filth and flight – NBC News
2)  Kids on stranded ship call home “hysterically crying” – Fox News Video
3)  Cruise Ships, they’re just floating bathrooms – The Daily Beast
4)  Moor Delay – Carnival’s cruise from hell won’t dock until dark – Fox News
5)  Passengers leave crippled cruise – USA Today
6)  Cruise lines woes are far from over as ship makes port – NY Times
7)  Cruise passengers describe horrendous conditions on disabled ship – AP
8)  Foul conditions aboard stranded Carnival Cruise Ship…   –NY Daily News
9)  What cruise lines don’t want you to know – CNN

The fantasy of “the Fantasy”

 

Charleston was recently named Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Top
Destination in the World!(1)  After 2015, such an honor is unlikely.

Why do tourists love Charleston?  Ohio residents Gary and
Marilyn Steyskal, who’ve visited twice a year since the ’80’s, say, “It’s the
history, the restaurants, the historical churches, and we like to explore old
cemeteries.  We always find something we haven’t seen before.”(2)  Those reasons
match many surveys that proclaim Charleston’s charm, history, historic homes and
gardens, architecture, ambiance, culture, restaurants, and friendly people as
the draw for almost 5 million tourists annually.  Tourists don’t take those
horse-drawn carriages to the Citadel Mall–they head downtown into the historic
neighborhoods to wander through the quaint streets and charming neighborhoods,
relax in one of our restaurants and browse the downtown shops.  People want to
see historic Charleston; that’s why they come.

Sadly, a cherished history doesn’t portend a glorious
future.  Ask the people who once lived in Venice, Italy, Dubrovnik, Croatia or
Key West, Florida.  These are cities changed, damaged or in decline.  People
left as carelessness replaced civility and T-shirt vendors displaced charming
shops.  Much of the damage was caused by the rapid increase of cruise ship
visits so near the historic centers of these cities.  That’s why the National
Trust for Historic Preservation has put Charleston on special “Watch Status”
when it released its list of “Americas 11 Most Endangered Places in 2011.”(3)

The biggest myth of cruise ship tourism is that what you see
is what you’ll get.  As upsetting as it may be for those in Ansonborough and on
the East Side, proponents say it won’t get worse.  That’s “the fantasy.”  It’s
about to get a lot worse.

First, cruise ships carried 2 million passengers in the
l980’s; this year, they’ll carry 18 million!  Modern cruise tourism, increasing
by 7.2% annually, is the fastest growing segment of the leisure travel
industry.(4)

“As a result of this growth…  “Second, cruise ships are getting bigger,
much bigger.”

Second, Cruise ships are getting bigger, much bigger.  The
“Fantasy,” the 22-year-old ship that’s home-ported in Charleston, is the oldest
ship and one of the smallest in Carnival’s fleet.  Rumor has it, it’s for
sale.(5)  When she’s gone, she won’t be replaced by another 70,000-ton ship with
2,060 passengers and a crew of 920.  For a glimpse at what’s sailing over the
horizon, check out the ship Carnival just ordered.  She’ll be the first of a
new, larger class–a 135,000-ton behemoth that will carry 4,000 passengers.(6)
Royal Caribbean already sails two, even larger ships, the “Allure of the Seas”
and the “Oasis of the Seas.”  Each carries 6,300 passengers and 2,400 crew.(7)
Each is also five times larger than the Titanic!

Third, these aren’t like ships of the past that were built to
take passengers from one port to the next.  When Carnival reinvented the cruise
industry in l972, each ship was designed to be the destination.  This brilliant
business model lures passengers with a low-priced deals, then encourages them to
spend and spend once on-board.  And there’s lots to spend on: upscale
restaurants, spa treatments, drinks at multiple bars and nightclubs, adult-only
serenity retreat, “meet and mingle” lounges, city-styled “shopping streets,”
casinos, plus “entertainment options all up and down the ship” as one Carnival
offering promotes.(8)  Why just take passengers from one port to another to
spend their money if they’ll spend money on the ship?(9)   That business plan is
working!  Royal Caribbean, the third largest cruise line, rolled out its public
offering just two weeks ago at $19 a share–those shares jumped 31% the first
day!  Carnival Corp., with 99 ships, is valued at $30 billion.(10)  Today’s
mega-ships compete for tourist dollars with land-based resorts totally unlike
yesterday’s ships that contributed to the ports they visited.(11)

Fourth, in spite of these facts and trends, the State Ports
Authority (SPA) unilaterally decided to wedge a giant new cruise terminal in at
Union Pier next to historic downtown.  The SPA never engaged Charleston’s
citizens in a discussion about alternative locations; in fact, it never
considered any other location even though regulations required such a study.(12)
It never researched other historic cities–those that haven’t been damaged by
cruise tourism–where their cruise terminals are farther removed from their
historic downtowns, neighborhoods and small streets.  So soon, unless fate or
common sense (both unlikely) or a lawsuit (only slightly less unlikely)
intervene, thousands more passengers, in concentrated throngs, will swarm
through the streets of Charleston’s historic districts with those crowds growing
by 7.2% year after year.

The SPA has also rejected every single idea to mitigate the
damage that a 100,000 sq. ft. cruise terminal, 9 acres of parking, traffic and
passenger congestion, the swarm and pollution of provisioning trucks, homeland
and border security, and increasingly large cruise ships will cause near
downtown.  The SPA refused to agree to binding limits on the size, number of
ships, or frequency of visits, and it’s refused to install shore power or demand
non-sulfer (toxic) diesel fuel be required while these ships idle for eight
hours a day in port.  It’s ignored every olive branch, every warning by doctors,
every concern raised about the damage cruise terminals have caused to other
historic cities.(14)  The only way to bring the SPA to the negotiating table is
to stop this “fast track” terminal approval…somehow.   If the brakes aren’t
applied, and this giant new cruise terminal is permitted for Union Pier, with an
existing 1800 foot pier that can accommodate these mega-ships, the impacts will
be devastating for Charleston’s historic districts including Ansonborough,
downtown, the French Quarter and South of Broad.  Once it’s built and the
dangers are finally realized, it’ll be too late.

Two things are certain. The SPA’s mantra ad nauseum about Charleston’s
“300 years of port history” is bunk.(15)  And so is the implied corollary that
Charleston’s fabled history can protect it from a future of unbridled,
unregulated tourism.  The continuous, explosive surge of cruise ship tourists is
unlike any threat from the past.  And given the immense resources and power of
the cruise industry, what local “regulations,” even if imposed, couldn’t be
weakened?  Charleston’s only defense is to get this proposed terminal moved
farther away…somehow.

–Jay

#   #    #

a)  “Harboring Tourism” Symposium details and registration
information

http://www.preservationsociety.org/default_detail.asp?haID=258

aa)  Story about Symposium on Cruise Ships in Historic Ports set for
Charleston – Miami Herald

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/02/03/3214903/conference-on-cruises-in-historic.html

1)  Charleston names top city in the world [sic] – ABC News 4

http://www.abcnews4.com/story/19833128/charleston

2)  Conde Nast declares Charleston top tourist city in the World – Post and
Courier

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20121017/PC05/121019368

3)  Positive news for Charleston Lawsuit – National Trust for Historic
Preservation

http://blog.preservationleadershipforum.org/2013/01/11/positive-charleston-lawsuit/#.UQrAv45Z_WE

4)  Florida-Caribbean Cruise Assn. – PDF

http://www.f-cca.com/downloads/2012-Cruise-Industry-Overview-Statistics.pdf

5)  Cruise critic – reader thread

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1736961

6)  Carnival Cruise Lines – Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival_Cruise_Lines

7)  On Earth – Can the cruise industry clean up its act?

http://www.onearth.org/article/dreamboat?page=1

8)  The Carnival “Dream” – Carnival website

http://www.carnival.com/cruise-ships/carnival-dream.aspx

9)  Cruise industry throttling up again…  – AOL Daily Finance

http://www.dailyfinance.com/2012/10/25/royal-caribbean-earnings-cruise-industry-outlook-deals/

10)  Norwegian Cruise Line IPO soars 31% – USA Today

http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/cruises/2013/01/17/norwegian-cruise-ipo-prices/1843051/

11)  International Review of Management – Dubrovnik.  (PDF Download)www.econjournals.com/index.php/irmm/article/download/257/pdf

12)  Groundhog Day – Jay Williams blog

http://www.charlestoncruisecontrol.org/2012/groundhog-day/

13)  The SPA’s “Defiant”  – Jay Williams blog

http://www.charlestoncruisecontrol.org/2011/the-spas-defiant/

14)  It’s all ao Unnecessary – Jay Williams blog

http://www.charlestoncruisecontrol.org/2012/its-all-so-unnecessary-an-edited-version-of-my-comments-submitted-to-the-sc-office-of-ocean-and-coastal-management-these-are-the-facts-and-opinions-that-everyone-who-cares-about-charleston-s/

15)  The Future isn’t what it Used to Be – The Charleston Mercury

http://charlestonmercury.com/articles/2012/05/16/opinion/editorials/doc4fb3f4bc3d1d9735621349.txt

IT’S ALL SO UNNECESSARY- “…an edited version of my comments submitted to the SC Office of Ocean and Coastal Management. These are the facts and opinions that everyone who cares about Charleston should know.” Jay Williams

IT’S ALL SO UNNECESSARY

          Two SC state hearings were recently conducted
about the proposed new SPA Cruise Terminal at Union Pier.  Yet many otherwise
well-informed Charlestonians don’t realize the grave consequences that will
follow.  Below is an edited version of my comments submitted to the SC Office of
Ocean and Coastal Management.  These are the facts and opinions that everyone
who cares about Charleston should know.

It will be worth the three minutes it may take
you to read this.  You will learn that his grave threat is not only unnecessary,
it’s manufactured.  The terrible consequences, though, will be real.
–Jay

 

THE IMMINENT DANGER:


The proposed 100,000 sq. ft. cruise terminal for Union Pier–the only site
that was ever considered by the SC State Ports Authority (SPA)–would, if permitted,
deal a devastating environmental, visual, economic, cultural, and historic blow to the
City of Charleston.  The blow, as cruise ships grow ever-larger under
post-Panamex (after a new, wider Panama Canal) conditions, all of which could be
accommodated by the excessively long existing 1800′ pier at Union Pier, would be
fatal to Charleston’s historic charm and it’s continued ability to draw almost 5
million visitors a year to see its historic, homes, gardens and buildings.  Do
we need more examples of the damage cruise ships do to cities beyond Venice,
Italy; Key West, Florida; Hamilton, Bermuda; and Dubrovnik, Croatia?(1)
If ever a certain disaster could be avoided, this would be it–yet because of the vast
financial resources of the SPA, a public-private entity only loosely controlled
by the SC State Legislature, residents, national and local historic and
environmental organizations, and common sense have all been pushed aside.

 

FOUR FACTS YOU MAY NOT KNOW:


First – The SPA never conducted a cruise terminal location study.  The SPA
was also never honest with the citizens of Charleston about discussing the location of the
cruise terminal or potential alternate locations.(2)  Contrary to the mandate that
the SPA operates under to be financially and environmentally responsible, the
SPA never conducted a study to find the best possible site for a cruise terminal
in Charleston.  The SPA has repeatedly been asked for such as study and has not
produced one, the SPA has repeatedly refused to comply with requests for
information under the Freedom of Information Act, and the SPA has repeatedly
mischaracterized its meeting and “citizen input” process as being more than it
was, and has even stooped to planting pro-terminal letters to the editor in the
newspaper.  At one such “input session” conducted by the SPA at the existing
terminal, I repeatedly tried to bring up questions about other locations, why
was the Union Pier location chosen, why if this was supposed to be a “one berth”
cruise terminal, was the pier to be left at 1800 feet.  All those questions were
rejected, and two different moderators (we had broken up into 6 or 7 smaller
groups) told me that these input sessions were only to discuss the “design of
the terminal building,” not the location of the building–that, obviously, was a
forgone conclusion.(3)  I have written a blog on why the cruise terminal
should be moved (4) and an op-ed in the Post and Courier about that adds to
those reasons and suggests alternative sites(5).

Second –
Thrusting a cruise terminal into downtown Charleston is not only unnecessary,
the evidence from other port cities demonstrates the immense damage such a
terminal would inflict on the peninsula.  The damage to other cities that have
cruise terminals downtown or near historic areas has been devastating as
continued congestion, confusion, traffic, noise, air and water pollution and
other environmental, culture and historic degradation have increased over time,
often completely altering the original culture and atmosphere of those historic
cities, reducing their quality of life.   I need not tell you that the World
Monuments’ Fund, Charleston’s Preservation Society, the Historic Charleston
Foundation, The Charlestowne and Ansonborough Neighborhood Assns., the Coastal
Conservation League, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, among
others, either opposes the cruise terminal location at Union Pier or favors
strictly regulating cruise ships.  Why do these organizations oppose a giant
cruise terminal downtown–or one without regulations?(6)   Because we cannot build
300-year-old cities any longer; we cannot recreate 300-year-old buildings,
houses, churches, gardens and our Colonial-era skyline if it is damaged or
compromised.  Once the historic charm of Hamilton, Bermuda was destroyed, what
can bring it back?  What can return Key West to its former “edge of the earth,”
relaxed history?  We cannot isolate or protect Charleston’s historic
neighborhoods from a cruise terminal–with the potential for ever-expanding
capacity–wedged in next door.

Third –
The option of “regulating” cruise ships is a phony option.  No such option
exists.  Yet some well-meaning organizations propose regulating cruise ships.
Even the SPA, in an effort to quiet opposition, proposed to limit cruise ships
to under 3,500 passengers (yet that would likely include 1500 crew, or 5000
people–hardly a small impact), no more than two visits per week (yet as most
ships do not visit during the height of winter or summer, that would mean far
more ships per week in peak season), and no more than 104 ships per year.  But
the SPA refuses to legally commit to even these high limits–in fact, James
Newsome, the CEO of the SPA, defiantly wrote in an email to this writer (and
many others) that he would not permit his port operations to be limited by
anyone.  No one seems to be paying attention to the bullying and intransigent
stand of the SPA.(3, 7)  But it gets worse.  Charleston’s Mayor Riley has
refused to restrict cruise ship activity, alternately saying that the SPA is
“our friend” and doesn’t need restrictions or limitations before saying that he
doesn’t have the power to limit cruise ship activity.(8)  Lawsuits have been filed to
restrict the size, height and noise of cruise ships, but the results/decisions
from those lawsuits are still unknown.  The reality is that the cruise ship
industry is run by a cabal of foreign owned entities; together they have a
combined annual revenue of over $30 billion.  Carnival alone has an annual
revenue of over $15 billion–no city, no city council, no one can stand in the
way of that kind of financial clout.  Charleston will decline and fall as other
small historic cities have in the wake of cruise ship tourism.

Fourth –
Cruise ship tourism will destroy the golden goose of historic tourism that is
the economic driver for all of South Carolina.  More important than the revenues
from the Port of Charleston is the spending from the five million annual
visitors who come to Charleston and eat, shop, visit museums and attractions,
and stay.  The SPA put out a survey, done by two College of Charleston
professors, that projected revenues from the cruise terminal at $37 million
annually–a fictional number that since has been totally discredited by a real
study–an analysis of actual cruise operations and visitors–by Miley and
Associates and paid for by the Historic Charleston Foundation.
What did that study conclude?(9)
That cruise tourists spend an average of only $66 per day–vs. $718 per day for
traditional Charleston tourists.  Why the difference?  Because tourists to
Charleston’s home-ported ship, the Carnival “Fantasy,” are budget travelers who
are coming not to visit Charleston–but to get on their ship, have fun on board
and sail the Caribbean.  The “Fantasy” is called a “fun ship,” not the history
ship, and the goal of Carnival, as with every cruise line, is to capture as much
revenue from each passenger by charging extras for excursions, for spa
treatments, for upscale restaurants, for restricted pools, for drinks, for
special shows, in the casinos and a host of other amenities and attractions as
they can.  That captured revenue is spent with Carnival or other cruise lines,
not in Charleston.  One researcher I spoke with called cruise ships “the strip
mine of tourism.”  In addition, the study found that these travelers were
staying in the cheaper N. Charleston hotels, not in Charleston, as their goal
was to get to their pre-paid cruise as soon as possible, and the N. Charleston
budget hotels also provided free weekly parking and a shuttle to the cruise
ship.  Another key thing the original SPA study totally ignored–the costs of
cruise ship tourism:  the need for extra police, the need to block off streets,
the inconvenience to businesses and residents, the cost of litter and trash
clean-up, etc.  One thing is clear, the cost of cruise ship tourism for the City
of Charleston–if the terminal remains at Union Pier–will be far greater than
the benefits.(10)
The Miley study concluded that another premise of the SPA study, that cruise
ships would be provisioned locally helping local farmers, etc., was also false.
The ships are provisioned out of Carnival’s huge headquarters in Florida.
Worse again is that the new Miley and Associates study showed that cruise ship
tourists can have a deleterious impact on traditional and upscale tourists (and
potential homeowners alike)–driving them to other cities and towns where they
don’t have to put up with cruise tourists.(11, 12)

 

THE SPA’S ARGUMENTS ARE WITHOUT MERIT:


The objections of the SPA, the Longshoremen’s Union, and the Mayor about
relocating the proposed terminal to another location are nonsensical.  The first such
mantra, complete with signs and buttons that said “Jobs not Snobs” that were
featured at the Physician’s Hall meeting in May, 2011, came from the
Longshoremen and SPA sympathizers.  Please.  If the terminal were located at the
Columbus Street Terminal (CST) or at the Navy Yard, those same jobs would still
exist, just in a slightly different location.(13)  Not only would no jobs be
lost, but as residents would have less reason to demand restrictions on ships
farther away from the sensitive historic district, it is logical to say that
jobs would likely increase if the terminal were moved.   Another argument,
“Charleston has been a port city for 300 years, so…” is equally ridiculous.
Charleston will still be a port city if the terminal were moved north or across
to Patriot’s Point.  But the ships that we have coming into Charleston today
ain’t British ships-of-the-line or pilot sailing boats like “the Spirit of South
Carolina,” they are huge cruise and cargo ships that can barely make it under
the 176′ high Ravenel Bridge–they do not belong in historic downtown, and there
are better, roomier and safer places for them farther north, beginning at
CST.(14)  Then most recently, the new head of Maritime Association admitted,
perhaps unwittingly, that a cruise terminal also serves as a border crossing,
limited by federal restrictions and regulations, and likely the entrance point for guns,
weapons, and other contraband.(15).  Perhaps she didn’t realize it as she wrote it, but
she was giving us yet another potent argument for moving this terminal away from
the densely populated areas of Charleston.  There are other obvious
arguments–including requiring shore side power in the wake of toxic ship soot
and pollution in port, yet the SPA summarily rejected this idea, too.  Shore
side power must be a requirement for a Charleston cruise terminal no matter
where it’s located.  Nor will I reference the unsightly view that a towering
cruise ship imposes over the skyline of an historic city like Charleston–
destroying the ambiance and historic context for both residents and
tourists who might otherwise have enjoyed Charleston in much the way it was
years ago.  Cruise terminals are often located far from cities or in industrial
areas of cities where their presence does not detract from the quality of life
in that city, where they can be adequately provisioned and fueled without
disturbing residents and businesses, and where the safety and security of all
can be ensured.  The historic cities of Boston and Philadelphia, that have
located their terminals well away from their historic downtowns, have proven
that this arrangement benefits all concerned.  The arguments the SPA, the mayor
and the longshoremen have against moving the terminal farther from the city are
unconvincing.(16)

 

THE SOLUTION AND CONCLUSION–the essence of my concluding comments to
SC Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management:

You know that the SPA did not address the concerns of the board even after its second
presentation.  You know that the cruise terminal, if permitted at Union Pier,
will create an airport-like environment that will grow and grow, impinging on
the city and destroying its charm and character as all attempts to regulate it
and the SPA continue to fail.  You know that jobs and cruise ship revenues would
be just as great if the terminal were moved away from downtown, in spite of
specious objections from the proponents.  You know that Charleston is a truly
unique city, home to the single longest unbroken row of Colonial-era houses in
America, many historic churches and buildings, and an irreplaceable charm of its
homes and gardens.  You know that the modern cruise industry is growing at 6% or
more annually–even in these near-recessionary times–and that this is an
industry that is relatively new, created in the mid-l970’s, and that the damage
that this industry has done to historic cities elsewhere has been horrific,
permanent and is continuing.  You know that if the terminal were only moved as
far north as the Columbus Street Terminal that with its 155 acres, with the
ability to create easy access off Morrison Drive at the north end of that
terminal, all traffic could be diverted from East Bay Street and would not
impact either Ansonborough or the East Side; you know that this would be a far
superior location for all concerned than Union Pier.  In spite of the
protestations to the contrary, both BMW (which was moved there by the SPA simply
to prevent the cruise terminal from being co-located there) and the cruise
terminal could co-exist on that property as the cruise terminal and the parking
it proposes would only require 20-25 acres.  You know that these cruise ships
will cause environmental damage–you saw the pictures of the Carnival-owned
“Costa Concordia” on its side in Italy, so you know it can and will happen.
It’s just a question of where.  You know that this terminal is a border, with
all its attendant problems.  You know that if permitted at the Union Pier
location, it will continue to cause traffic and other congestion, cost and
damage for Charleston residents.  You know that the tourists who want to go on a
cruise vacation aren’t interested in coming to Charleston–at least on that
particular trip–and that they otherwise could come anytime they wanted, if they
so wanted.  You know moving this terminal and standing up to the SPA is the
right thing to do.(17)

I just hope you do the right thing.

Respectfully submitted,

Jay Williams, Jr.

10 Oct 12

Footnotes:
1)  The Menace of Venice, Campaigners picket cruise ship…  – Daily Mail
2)  Groundhog Day – Jay Williams blog
3)  The SPA’s “Defiant”  – Jay Williams blog
4)  7 Reasons Why the SPA’s proposed cruise terminal must be moved – Jay Williams blog
5)  Let facts steer local cruise terminal debate…  –  Post and Courier, Jay Williams
6)  What Makes Charleston Charleston – Charleston Currents – Jay Williams
7)  Calling on Carnival – Jay Williams blog
8)  The Mayor’s Fiction – Jay Williams blog
9)  A Tale of Two Studies –  Jay Williams blog
10)  Waves of Criticism   –  Jay Williams blog
11)  A response to Cruise Critics miss the boat – Jay Williams Blog
12)  Ain’t no Sunshine – Jay Williams blog
13)  Mythmaking – Jay Williams blog
14)  The Future Isn’t what it used to be – Charleston Mercury – Jay Williams
15)  Let facts steer local cruise terminal debate….  Post and Courier – Jay Williams
16)  A Broken Vision – Jay Williams blog
17)  Reasonable cruise regulations should be more than a dream – Post and Courier – Jay Williams
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