Viewpoints

If you only knew: a letter by Bruce Smith, George Street 29401

All these people who don’t live downtown continually write the paper citing economic benefits of the cruise industry. I want them to listen to me:

No one, not a single person, has proposed abolishing this industry from Charleston. It is only the impact of said industry that has people’s feathers ruffled; and rightly so, as they are the most impacted by this issue.

Imagine the circus comes to your community with all its paraphernalia, and thousands descend upon your village square for the entire day. Yes, there is an economic benefit for your community.

Now imagine that the same circus decamps at the end of the day, then returns five days later week after week and month after month.

I am positive that it would wear on you, then wear you down, then raise your ire to the point you would regret the sacrifice you made to your quality of life in the name “Circuses are Good for Our Town and Beneficial for Our Shop Owners.”

Come on folks, there is an impact even if you don’t feel it. We feel it every five days.

Move the terminal. It is the right thing to do.

 

 

Dismiss lawsuit against Carnival? That’s a fantasy- a Post &Courier editorial

Dismiss lawsuit against Carnival? That’s a fantasy, P&C, June 3, 2012, Editorial. 

 

For months Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (C4) has been asking Carnival Cruiselines questions and getting silence in response.

Soon the silence should be broken because it will be a judge asking the questions in relation to to a lawsuit pending against Carnival.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, neighbors, preservationists and environmentalists, contend that Carnival isn’t in compliance with local zoning ordinances.

Defendants, including the city of Charleston, which attached itself as a defendant, have said the suit is irresponsible and certain to be dismissed.

It wasn’t. The Supreme Court has referred the pending motion to dismiss and related filings and hearings to Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman for handling and recommendations.

That means parties to the suit will have the opportunity to argue the motion before a trial judge.

C4, whose mission is to see that enforceable restrictions on Charleston’s cruise industry are enacted, first communicated with Carnival via a letter dated Jan. 5. Executive director Carrie Agnew asked Gerry Cahill, president and chief executive officer of Carnival Cruise Lines in Miami, a number of questions, and made suggestions about the size of ships that come here, and the frequency of their visits. C4 asked about discharge, air emissions, amplified announcements, user fees, and local purchasing.

No reply.
So Mrs. Agnew tried again. Her letter of Feb. 10 to Mr. Cahill asked again for a response, and asked Carnival to support an independent study to determine the best site for a new cruise terminal. (C4 thinks the terminal would be better located north of the site selected by the S.C. State Ports Authority.)

No reply.
Since then, she reports having written SPA executive director Jim Newsome, various elected city officials, the members of the SPA board, and Debra Kelly-Ennis, Carnival’s newest director and a member of its Health and Environmental, Safety and Security Committee — all with questions and none drawing a response.

The one response she received was from Sir John Parker, a Carnival director and chairman of its Health and Environmental, Safety and Security Committee. His two paragraphs thanked her for her letter and assured Mrs. Agnew that Carnival is “fully aware” of the issues she described and is “in close touch also with the City and State, who are supportive of Carnival’s operations out of Charleston.”

That left Mrs. Agnew to note that, while Carnival has been in touch with the city and state, it has not been in touch with Historic Charleston Foundation, the Preservation Society of Charleston, Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, Historic Ansonborough Neighborhood Association, the Coastal Conservation League, the Committee to Save the City, the South Carolina Medical Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the World Monuments Fund or Charleston Communities for Cruise Control — all of which have called for restrictions on or standards for cruise operations here.

Ironically, in its 2009 Sustainability Report, which is posted online, Carnival describes itself as being “committed to doing our best to be a good corporate citizen. To us, that means treating our employees right, being kinder to the environment and giving back to the communities we serve.”

But apparently, it doesn’t always mean answering questions raised in those communities.

Maybe some answers will now be forthcoming — in Charleston, at any rate — as the Carnival case cruises toward a date in court.

The community deserves a response.

 

 

 

A response to “Cruise Critics Miss Boat”: “Regulate cruise tourism in Charleston” by Jay Williams in P&C-

Regulate cruise tourism in Charleston, P&C, May 21, 2012, Commentary, JAY WILLIAMS. 

It’s not about the past.
Those favoring unregulated cruise ship tourism for Charleston want to discuss everything but facts.

A recent article from two writers affiliated with the S.C. Waterfront Alliance resorted to a standard theme — they attacked their opponents. They charged the Historic Charleston Foundation with using “beyond bizarre accusations about Charleston’s maritime industry” and belittled residents of Ansonborough, calling their concerns about cruise ship noise and questions about height regulations on the 14-deck ships “laughable.” That was before these advocates advanced their own laughable assertion, “The cruise industry is an environmentally friendly, clean, and well-regulated industry.” Tell that to the survivors of the sunken Carnival-owned “Costa Concordia” or residents of Charleston breathing toxic bunker fuel from cruise ships — fuel so dirty it’s banned on land.

The proponents also reprised their straw man sham that some “organizations” desire to “regulate shipping.” Codswallop. Nobody wants to “regulate shipping.” Cargo ships don’t disgorge thousands of passengers onto downtown streets; cruise ships do. If other tourism is regulated, why not cruise tourism?

 

But the facts are not favorable to cruise boosters, so they emote about history, “neighborhoods built by ship captains” and “the founding of the Charlestown colony.” But the present and future are what matter.

The modern cruise industry began just 40 years ago when Carnival Cruise Lines began. Since then, Carnival has grown to 100 ships with a 2009 profit of $1.8 billion. Global cruise industry growth has doubled in the past decade — from 9.7 to 18.8 million passengers annually through 2010. Carnival’s revenues increased another 8 percent in 2011 and may grow 6 percent more this year.

The “Fantasy,” the ship home-ported in Charleston, carries 2,056 passengers, but it’s the oldest ship in Carnival’s fleet. Newer ships are bigger. The “Dream” — heralding Carnival’s newest class of vessels — is 1,004 feet long, carries 3,646 passengers and 1,367 crew. They are virtual cities — with bars, “shopping streets,” spas, casinos, upscale restaurants, kids’ activities, “meet and greet” clubs. If everything is on board, why spend money on land?

So they don’t. The recent Miley & Associates study shattered the illusion that home-ported cruise ships bring millions into the local economy. “Fantasy” passengers spend only $66 vs. $718 a day for traditional tourists. Charleston doesn’t make a dime from taxes or passenger fees; local farms don’t make money either — the ships are provisioned from Carnival’s big hub in Florida. And most passengers don’t stay in Charleston but in North Charleston budget hotels that provide free weekly parking and shuttles to the ship. One urban expert calls cruises the “strip mine of tourism.”

Cruise tourism isn’t the only tourism that’s exploding in Charleston. After this year, Bridge Run organizers were forced to cap next year’s participants at 40,000. And Fort Sumter tour boats that normally ferry 200,000 passengers a year carried a record 328,000 tourists last year; passengers are up another 11 percent this year. Almost 4 million visitors will come to Charleston in 2012.

So where are all these tourists going? The horses aren’t taking those carriages to the Citadel Mall. Evan Thompson, executive director of the Preservation Society, cautions that historic Charleston “is not unlike a rare pristine rainforest; only so many people can trample through without damaging it.”

Yet the proponents of unregulated cruise ship tourism, the State Ports Authority and the mayor, dismiss the facts. They remain defiant to every suggestion to mitigate cruise ship impacts on our economy’s “golden goose,” the Historic District and downtown.

Cruise boosters have rejected any legal limits on the size and number of cruise ships. They’ve blocked shoreside power, refused to consider alternative cruise terminal locations, and ignored the costs of cruise ship tourism — even after witnessing the terrible damage to Venice, Italy; Key West, Fla.; Dubrovnik, Croatia and other cities.

What will happen to the economic engine of the region, the Historic District, when residents and traditional tourists tire of the traffic, congestion, and the “Disney-effect” of cruise ship tourism? What if they begin to feel a decline in their “Charleston experience”?

If we can’t do it today, how can Charleston rein in a growing $30 billion-a-year cruise industry once we’ve handed it a $35 million berth in the heart of downtown?

If you care about Charleston’s economic or historic future, the proposed SPA-Union Pier terminal must never be built. But if you’re interested in history, reread the tale of the Trojan Horse.

Jay Williams Jr.., a radio broadcasting consultant, is a member of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association and the Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (C4), which hosts his blogs at CharlestonCruiseControl.org.

 

Stay home, Joe- A letter to P&C’s editor from President and CEO of Historic Savannah Foundation: “Charleston can still fix its mistakes with cruise ships, and Savannah can avoid them altogether.”

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Post and Courier, May 20, 2012. 

Stay home, Joe

On May 10 Mayor Joe Riley was in Savannah touting the benefits of cruise ships. In his remarks to the Downtown Business Association he said that having a year-round home port for a cruise ship has “worked out very well” and “for a port city to have a cruise ship port is a natural.”

The question is for whom?

Has it worked out well for the residents of downtown who have been forced to sue just to establish reasonable limits and ground rules for these behemoths?

Is it natural for 2,500 people to be spit out onto the streets “with time and money in their pockets”?

Does that somehow improve livability for residents?

Who is tracking how much and where that money is spent? Who is measuring the impacts?

As Savannah considers courting the cruise ship in­dustry, I hope we give it more scrutiny than did Charleston.

A May 12 editorial in the Savannah Morning News rec­ognized that Tybee Island, our quirky and charming beach town, is suffering from “too much love.”

Agreed.

When something special is loved to death by squeezing every last penny out of it until it’s exhausted, then we’ve done wrong by making selfish and short-sighted decisions.

Charleston can still fix its mistakes with cruise ships, and Savannah can avoid them altogether.

In the meantime, Joe, please peddle your opinions else­where.

DANIEL G. CAREY President and CEO Historic Savannah Foundation E. York Street Savannah, Ga.

Cruise ships and putting lipstick on pigs- a Charleston Mercury editorial

Cruise ships and putting lipstick on pigs, Charleston Mercury, May 16, 2012 (online), editorial.  

The cruise ship debate continues with vigor, and we welcome the opportunity to connect some dots and stress the importance of the site of the new terminal. However, we scratch our heads when we read about “cruise ship opponents” in various local media. Those concerned about the cruise ships come at the issue from many different and valid perspectives. They are not “opponents”; rather, they are “critics” and are not monolithic. Many want cruise ships, but under varying circumstances. This is not an “either/or” issue for most citizens.

With a recent op-ed in the Post and Courier, Historic Charleston Foundation has put on a muscular attitude as a critic, joining others in this noble effort. In particular, we urge all critics to find out why the S.C. State Ports Authority is so bold to call a proposed terminal site at Columbus Street a “non-starter.” This is the big game changer issue because putting lipstick on a pig does not change the fact that it is a pig. The current and S.P.A.-proposed new terminal will keep the “pigs” in clear view of those on the harbor, in the Holy City or from other vantage points in Mt. Pleasant or James Island. The massive ships dominate the city skyline from the current terminal. They do not seek a ransom as did Blackbeard in 1718, but the cruise ships overshadow Charleston’s subtle character and seek tribute in the form of a new terminal that is not located far enough up the Cooper River toward the Ravenel Bridge.

We have heard many times about Charleston’s history as a port city, but the masts and rigging of vessels of yesteryear cannot be compared to the footprint of the chunky mega “funships” of today. The ships of olden days had no loud speakers and waterslides.

In terms of geography, as shipping changed, wharves moved north and evolved into the multi-terminal system of today. At the same time, waterfront real estate prices have increased exponentially. The leisure shipping element is small compared to the whole, but it makes a big splash in the public eye because of where the passengers embark and debark; hence, the issue is really about the placement of the terminal.

 

As we have said many times, we could handle a substantial number of visits from cruise ships if we placed the terminal in the right locale. Tourists could disperse from a terminal near Columbus St. in more than one direction and by a variety of transportation methods, avoiding the choke point on East Bay St. and letting the greater community market amenities to cruise passengers instead of making it all about immediate gratification within a stone’s throw of our fragile downtown neighborhoods. CARTA buses or a special train could bring passengers to a variety of places, particularly a nifty spot on Concord St. in close walking distance of The Market. Others might take cabs or buses to North Charleston or Mt. Pleasant; some might walk to new attractions built on the Eastside for cruise passengers.

Recall that the announcements from the cruise ships are truly obnoxious and even saying farewell to loved ones at funerals is no longer sacrosanct. Any graveside service at St. Philip’s, the Huguenot Church, St. Stephen’s and others will run the risk of loud squawking interfering with hearing prayers from the clergy.

Cruise critics are not giving up, and they are not a small sector of the society. After all, some of those critics include this newspaper, the Post and Courier, the City Paper, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Preservation Society of Charleston, Historic Charleston Foundation and the Coastal Conservation League. Eventually, cooler heads will see the positive results that would come from the key policy shifts suggested by those who want Charleston to prosper and retain its historic character.

 

 

The future isn’t what it used to be- a guest editorial by Jay Williams in Charleston Mercury: “The array of evidence presented during the past year allows for only one conclusion.”

The future isn’t what it used to be, Charleston Mercury, May 16, 2012, editorial. 

Mayor Joseph Riley and supporters of an unregulated cruise ship terminal at Union Pier advanced their key arguments during a hearing conducted last month by the federal Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management.

The “we-know-better” argument went like this: “I was born in Charleston, my family has worked on the docks for years … and you got here late.” Or, “This has been a maritime city for 300 years…” This argument would be terrific if the maritime traffic and the ships were remotely the same as 300 years ago. Or even 30 years ago. But ships today don’t look like the Spirit of South Carolina. And, cruise ships have nothing in common with cargo shipping except that both ships float.

Cruise ships have thousands of passengers who must be accommodated and managed; cargo ships don’t.

The modern cruise industry was born just 40 years ago when Carnival Cruise Lines was formed. Carnival’s promise to “give the passenger a fun-filled vacation at a price they can afford” revolutionized the industry. Unlike the “past,” today’s cruise ships are carefully constructed floating cities, carefully designed to capture passengers’ interest, attention and money — beginning with the lobby bar up to the top deck spa, with casinos, upscale restaurants, “shopping streets,” pools, waterslides, nightclubs, live shows, music and more beckoning from every deck in between.

 

Sure, there were passenger ships 100 years ago, but they were tiny compared to Carnival’s 100-ship fleet. The Titanic, the largest ship afloat in 1912, weighed 46,000 tons, had 9 decks, and was 882 feet long. Compare that to the Carnival Fantasy, home-ported in Charleston and one of Carnival’s smallest ships: 70,367 tons, 14 decks, 855 feet long. But the Fantasy is Carnival’s oldest ship. The newer Carnival Dream-class of ships is far larger: 130,000 tons, 1004 feet long with 3,646 passengers and crew of 1,367.

Somehow Mayor Riley had the temerity to say, “It is the same business, the same cruise activity, that is currently going on in Charleston.” It’s not “the same business.” The cruise industry grew eight percent in 2011 and will grow another six percent this year! The cruise industry is like nothing from the past — new ships are vastly larger in size and scale. As Boeing’s new 787 “Dreamliner” dwarfs the old 707, ever-larger cruise ships should only be expected here, especially with the widening of the Panama Canal.

Let’s turn this line of discussion on its head. Charleston could put the cruise terminal anywhere — almost 50 percent of the South Carolina State Ports Authority terminal space is unused or underused. So why would any historic city risk building a cruise terminal downtown after witnessing the environmental damage already done by cruise ship terminals near the hearts of Venice, Key West and other cities?

What about the “Jobs Argument?” No one actually said, “Jobs, not snobs,” but they came close. The reality is that there will be just as many jobs — likely more — if the terminal were moved north to Columbus Street or to the Veterans Terminal. And any economic benefits from cruise ships would be increased. Why? Because there the demands for regulations and controls would be reduced — the larger ships could come in without damaging historic Charleston or displacing other tourists. The “Jobs Argument” is specious.

There was the nonsensical “no-soot argument.” “I work with 85 percent of the cruise ships that come in here, and I park my white truck right next to them. It never gets soot on it.” Perhaps, sir, that’s because the top deck of the ship rises 130 feet above the water — and the Fantasy’s tail — where the soot belches out — rises still higher. Do cruise ship passengers get soot on them? No. But that soot — with heavy carcinogen-laden particles — drifts over Ansonborough. Park your white truck there.

There was the “it’s only a one-berth terminal” argument. That’s not true, either. The pier at Union Pier is 1,800 feet. You now know that the Fantasy is 855 feet long. You do the math. Apparently no one else can.

And, finally, consider the argument of “Five pilings are all we’re talking about.” Five pilings didn’t bring 200 people out during their dinner hour. The new ship terminal would be far bigger than the older one, facilitating an increasing, uncontrollable level of cruise ship traffic and tourism that, on top of traditional tourism, will overrun Charleston’s geographically limited space and resources to handle.

The proponents didn’t mention the recently released Miley & Associates study on Charleston cruise ship tourism. That study shatters the illusion that home-ported cruise ship tourism brings millions into the local economy: Fantasy cruise passengers spend just $66 a day vs. $718 a day for traditional tourists. Worse, the Fantasy is not provisioned locally, but from Florida, and most of the passengers who spend a night before boarding go to less expensive North Charleston motels that give them free weekly parking and a shuttle to their “Fun Ship.” Cruisers come to Charleston mostly to sail away and spend their money elsewhere.

The array of evidence presented during the past year allows for only one conclusion. Once a cruise ship terminal is built downtown at Union Pier, the result will be a historic, environmental, cultural and financial disaster for downtown and Historic Charleston. If you’re looking back at the past 300 years of maritime history, you won’t believe that. But if you’re looking ahead at the growth of the modern cruise-tourism industry, you will.

Jay Williams, Jr., a radio broadcast consultant, member of the Charlestowne Neighborhood Association, regularly blogs on Charleston’s proposed cruise ship terminal. His blogs may be found at CharlestonCruiseControl.org under “Jay’s Blog.”

Ship Noise: a response to the “Cruise Critics miss the boat” commentary in P&C.

“Ship noise”, P&C, May 10, 2012, letter to the editor. 

I wonder where Robert New and Pat Barber, authors of the May 7 “Cruise critics miss the boat,” reside.

Their ignorance about the outrageous noise pollution from Carnival is far more “laughable” (their word regarding their opponents’ arguments) than Ansonborough’s efforts to protect the livability of its neighborhood.

Bruce Smith
George Street
Charleston

Dana Beach’s letter responding to recent articles about shore power and clean fuel- “The cleaner ship fuel required by the new standards for 2015 would still be one hundred (100) times as dirty as diesel fuel that is currently available for use in trucks on US highways.”

Folks,

For the past two years, the city of Charleston and the State Ports Authority have argued against shore power for cruise ships (allowing the ships to turn their engines off while they are in port). They assert that shore power is unnecessary because new regulations require cleaner fuel by 2015.

The argument is flawed because “cleaner” does not mean “safe.” There would still be high levels of toxic pollutants pouring out of ship stacks in one of the most densely populated locations in South Carolina. The cleaner ship fuel required by the new standards for 2015 would still be one hundred (100) times as dirty as diesel fuel that is currently available for use in trucks on US highways.

The first editorial, from the Post and Courier, makes the case that shore power is the only way to protect the health of downtown residents and workers, especially those working the docks.

The second article from the State illustrates the profound hypocrisy of the clean fuel argument. It reports that the cruise industry, led by Carnival Cruise Lines, is spending huge amounts of money lobbying against the federal clean fuel standards. So the upshot is that Carnival, the city of Charleston and the State Ports Authority are blocking the best option for clean air in the city, shore power, at the same time Carnival is leading the charge against even the inadequate clean fuel solution proposed by the city and the SPA.

Dana


State medical association advocates for shoreside power for cruise ships, P&C,
May 6, 2012.
Cruise-ship industry fights cleaner-fuel rule, The State, May 6, 2012, RENEE SCHOOF.

SPA thwarts efforts to pry info loose- an informative commentary by Katie Zimmerman.

State Ports Authority thwarts efforts to pry info loose, P&C, April 30, 2012, commentary, KATIE ZIMMERMAN. 

The Post and Courier’s recent series on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) highlighted one of the most important, and least appreciated, characteristics of a free society — the ability ordinary citizens should have to learn, without filters, what government is doing for them and, potentially, to them. Reinforcing The Post and Courier’s findings, the State Integrity Assessment, a project of Public Radio International, the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity, gave South Carolina an “F” for government transparency.

As James Madison said two centuries ago, “A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both.”

The Post and Courier’s series revealed that compliance with the Freedom of Information Act is troublingly inconsistent in South Carolina. We would like to offer some recent examples of our experiences attempting to obtain information from the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SPA). These instances reinforce the fact that our state is far from the open, transparent government that our country’s founders believed was essential to a healthy democracy.

The State Ports Authority has consistently argued that the proposed cruise ship terminal on Union Pier is the highest and best use for that property and that it has positive financial implications for the agency and for the public.

More than two years ago, we asked SPA director Jim Newsome for the documentation supporting that claim. Specifically, we asked for their projections of cruise ship revenues and expenses. Additionally, we asked for the analysis of alternative terminal sites the SPA claimed to have conducted. Months later, we received nothing in response.

Consequently, over the past two years we have submitted various FOIA requests detailing the information we would like to see. The information we have requested should help the public better understand the SPA’s decisions, and should also round out the debate on the costs and benefits of vastly increased cruise operations in Charleston.

On March 1, 2010, we asked for pro forma financial statements on the cruise ship terminal. On March 15, 2010, we requested the terminal construction schedule, and on May 7, 2010, in conjunction with the South Carolina Policy Council and the Charleston Mercury, we asked for contracts with cruise lines that visit Charleston, financial information on Union Pier cargo and cruise operations, lobbying expenses, payments to the Charleston Police Department and other information related to cruise operations.

The SPA told us much of the information we asked for was “privileged” and that they estimated that our fee would be $13,535 for the rest. (Part of the fee included research by the agency to determine what was privileged.) We subsequently reduced our request and resubmitted it. The agency again responded that much of the information was privileged and that they would not waive the fee. For the benefit of the public, this response is a serious problem — the SPA was refusing even to provide the year Carnival’s contract would end.

On Feb. 17, 2011, in conjunction with the Preservation Society of Charleston and the Southern Environmental Law Center, we made a similar, but further abbreviated, request for information about the Union Pier project.

The SPA’s response stated “most of the documents, unfortunately, are not maintained in a manner that is conducive to search by nonemployees, but require research and review of documents for responsiveness to the request, and assembly of responsive documents.” Further, they believed, some of the documents would end up being privileged anyway.

On July 25, 2011, after the SPA launched a publicity campaign designed to characterize citizens concerned about unmitigated cruise ships as “snobs” who were opposed to “jobs,” we asked for invoices from and communications with the SPA’s public relations’ firm, Rawle-Murdy.

The response we received was incomplete, and omitted a memo about a meeting between Jim Newsome, Mayor Joe Riley and Carnival Cruise Lines executives in Miami. We asked for, but have still not received, that document.

Regardless of one’s opinion about the wisdom of unregulated cruise activity in Charleston, it is indisputable that a public agency responsible for the wise investment of public funds has an obligation to justify, clearly and comprehensively, its decision to taxpayers.

At the very least, the agency should provide the documentation underlying its decisions and actions to interested citizens.

That is the simple premise behind the Freedom of Information Act.

It is unfortunate, and unacceptable, that the SPA does not recognize the central importance of transparency as we debate the future of the Port of Charleston.

Katie Zimmerman is project manager for the Coastal Conservation League.

Cruising back to reality- today’s first editorial in P&C: “…An independent economic analysis…passenger cruises using the port of Charleston do not create or sustain jobs.”

Cruising back to reality, Post and Courier, April 22, 2o12

Jobs, not snobs? Say “goodbye” to that snide slogan designed to promote the cruise industry in Charleston. An independent economic analysis of how cruises impact the local economy concludes that passenger cruises using the port of Charleston do not create or sustain jobs.

Further, the study says cruises do not inject as much money into the economy as has been proclaimed. Indeed, they might actually compete with local businesses instead of enhancing them.

And the report indicates the net affect of cruises calling on or embarking from Charleston might actually be a financial loss to the city, which provides related services.

The analysis, commissioned by Historic Charleston Foundation and performed by Miley & Associates of Columbia, finds that research being used by the S.C. State Ports Authority to justify doing business with Carnival and other cruise lines is faulty and incomplete.

For more than a year, local residents, preservationists and environmentalists have expressed considerable apprehension. On Wednesday, more than 100 attended a hearing by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management to protest plans for a new terminal because of potential damage by an unregulated cruise industry. They say the traffic, noise and pollution it causes have already compromised the livability for people who reside in, work in or visit downtown Charleston.

But they have been brushed aside as misguided “snobs” who expect Charleston to function like a gated community instead of a vibrant city. They have been reminded over and over that the industry is an economic boon to the city.

At the very least, this report should convince the city of Charleston to re-evaluate its support for an unrestricted cruise presence in Charleston — including its decision to join sides with Carnival as a defendant in a lawsuit calling for enforceable limits on the industry.

Part of that re-evaluation should include determining how much money the cruise industry costs the city in services and what its return on investment is — if any.

The Historic Charleston Foundation has wisely renewed its call for the city to impose restrictions on the size, number and frequency of cruise ships visiting Charleston.

In addition, it is asking the SPA to negotiate with Carnival to pay a reasonable passenger fee (see HCF Executive Director Katharine Robinson’s column on today’s Commentary page).

The fee could be used by the city to offset costs associated with the development of Union Pier property being vacated by the SPA. Such fees are not unusual in port cities.

The HCF is also taking a step in an even more controversial direction. It wants the data the SPA used to determine where to move the passenger terminal and its research on the impact of that terminal on neighborhoods and historic areas.

The SPA has indicated it did due diligence and that the site where the new terminal is to be built is the best place for it. Some contend a site farther from congested downtown Charleston would be better.

Miley and Associates suggests the city establish a commission to advise City Council on cruise-related issues and that it also be involved with negotiations between the cruise industry and the SPA.

The peninsula is “the goose that lays the gold eggs,” and the city should ensure it isn’t killed by uncontrolled cruise business.

A recent letter to the editor chided The Post and Courier for opposing cruise ships. We have not done that.

Like the HCF, Preservation Society of Charleston, Ansonborough and Charles Town neighborhood associations and Coastal Conservation League, we have called for enforceable restrictions to ensure that the cruise industry does not harm the delicate balance of Charleston or the environment.

Now, with authoritative data, the SPA and the city should acknowledge the wisdom of what residents have been saying and work together to protect the extraordinary place that is Charleston.

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