To Whom It May Concern:
To add to the public record of residents on the issue of tourism and its impact on residential neighborhoods, I would like to make the following statements:
As a friend who would like to remain anonymous has so aptly put it to me, “ The resident in Charleston has become an endangered species. As such, they should be afforded the protections due to an endangered species.” I couldn’t agree more.
The concept of living a life of quiet enjoyment, not the legally deeded kind but the physical kind, has just simply gone missing in downtown Charleston. At any gathering of residents of the neighborhoods, there is always a review of the latest trespass by tourists or college students. I personally would hate to have to count the number of times my dog has stopped to inspect vomit or I have stepped in it in the Harleston Village area. Livability Court and the willingness to cite violators is the only thing that makes living in a college area a possibility. In other neighborhoods, residents have viewed tourists relieving themselves in their driveways, even on their rose bushes. People have had their doors knocked upon followed by inquiries to use the facilities or view their garden. Are we on display like show animals. If so, I’d like to have the city pay for my costumes. I’m fond of Armani.
There are several issues at the top of my list.
1. What possible benefit could be afforded residents by putting a cruise terminal with 900 flat surface parking spaces in the residential neighborhoods. The first thing the city could do to prove that it had an interest in the well-being of the residents would be to get that terminal and its fall-out vehicle congestion, people traffic congestion and parking issues out of the residential areas. It cannot be justified and it is foolishness to not accommodate the people and cars elsewhere and transport those tourists to their destination by public transport. The revenue will still be there, the tourists and their cars won’t be. To not do this indicates to the residents that the city administration just doesn’t care about those of us who have no alternative but to use those streets.
2. Shore power. How can a city that has signs outside of schools stating that you should not idle your vehicle because students breathe there, allow ships to idle in port with no shore power.
These first 2 are no-brainers. There is no justification for having the terminal where it is planned to be. There is no reason to add the burden of poor air-quality to the other congestion related quality-of-life issues currently challenging the peace and quiet of those residing on the Charleston peninsula.
Why would anyone take prime real estate and plan a 900 space flat surface parking lot?What a stupid use of tax dollars and space. Wherever you decide to put a 900 space flat surface parking lot in the year 2014, it should at least incorporate solar so that the residents of whatever neighborhood you place it in will have an energy break for their troubles. Other countries have managed this. Why can’t we?
If you’re going to put something massive in a space so prominent, why not make it world class…think Sydney Opera House. There is a glorious bridge already in place, a world class facility could be placed where the terminal is slated to be. You could put solar over the parking lot and a park on top of the building. Get out of the box and really go for it if you’re going to mess around with the neighborhoods and put something there that everyone can enjoy, not just a tourist bringing a car down so they can get on a ship and go somewhere else.
3. Could we please have a moratorium on building for the hotels and office buildings over 3 stories that have already been approved until we can adopt a set of guidelines for the next 20 years that isn’t based on the last 20 years. When you put a building up that is over 3 stories, and then you do it again and again and again, you have no idea how much you are limiting the light and the visual vista that create a town that feels manageable rather than a city. Go to Charlotte if you want to see a small city. People do not come to Charleston to experience a small city. They come to enjoy, among other things, a historic city with beautiful architecture. The pitiful nature of the ugly architecture that has risen around the city in the last few years is unforgivable. If you’re going to do something, at least try to get it right. I actually sat through a City Council meeting in which a decision that was being requested for a large building was referred to by the presenter as ‘non-precedent setting’. Please. Think about that.
4. Clearly the silo effect of planning events and tourism has to change. Someone must coordinate it all and make it work for the residents, not just visitors.
5. Try to pay a little attention to the residents of the city and their specific needs. A friend of mine owns a car that was hit by someone and a witness left a note including a license plate number for the car that did the damage. As of 6 weeks later, and many calls to the police, the issue had not even been investigated. The police were ‘too busy’. As Giuliani stated so many times as he cleaned up New York, “Its the little things that count.”
6. Public toilets in residential neighborhoods. When I travel, I plan accordingly and don’t expect there to be a public restroom at my disposal. There could be signs that say that “You are entering a residential neighborhood. There are no public restrooms, plan accordingly.” That doesn’t seem so hard now, does it?
Thank you for your time.
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
2) Limit Cruise ship consequences on peninsula – Steve Gates – P&C
3) SC High Court throws out Cruise pollution case – Law 360
4) Supreme Court leaves legality of Cruise Harms in Historic Charleston unanswered – Blan Holman, SELC
5) SC Supreme Court tosses lawsuit seeking to block cruise ship operations – Meg Kinnard – AP
6) Judge tosses permit for SC Cruise Terminal – Bruce Smith – AP
7) SPA and Army Corps of Engineers withdraw cruise terminal permit appeal – Charleston Business Journal
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.
Now there’s a thought… Let the public have input on what is done with their dollars on their turf… Should be interesting to see what transpires!
This is a good opportunity for them to remove the wraps and show the public as well as the feds that the project will not harm the environment or the health of people who live and work nearby.
Some critics, who are alarmed by the SPA’s refusal to submit to reasonable standards regarding the cruise ship industry here, fear the Corps will try for another shortcut that would bypass public hearings.
That would be a mistake. District Judge Richard Gergel didn’t mince words in his September order. He said the Corps gave the issue “a bum’s rush” and failed to show that it met standards required by the National Environmental Protection Act and the National Health Protection Act.
The Corps should be eager to save face after such an embarrassing rebuke. A good way to do that would be to take the high road – a process that allows the public to ask questions and have input into the SPA project.
Realistically, that conversation would probably be – and should be – broad. It could include how the environment would be affected – perhaps how adding plug-in power to the dock would reduce emissions that threaten people’s health.
But a discussion would also likely touch on how traffic, the historic district, heritage tourism and the economy would be affected when a new cruise ship terminal is complete.
It could include a discussion of the best site for a terminal – both where the SPA wants to it to be and alternative locations, as well.
The process would take time for the SPA to prepare for and execute. And such debates are sure to be contentious. But they could also be immensely helpful.
For one thing, they could help the SPA pursue the best plan possible. Also, an open and frank conversation could restore some of the public trust, which has been shaken by the SPA’s apparent disregard for the public’s concerns.
Regardless of what side of the controversial cruise ship issue they stand on, people should find it unacceptable for public officials to give “a bum’s rush” to issues regarding the health and environment of the area. Those who want to see the terminal built should be confident that the SPA’s case is strong enough to meet permit requirements and gain public support.
And the process should be transparent. It does, after all, involve public money and public land. And the cruise ship business does make a difference to the entire area.
So far, the State Ports Authority has refused to stipulate legally how it will limit the size and number of cruise ships here. Instead, it has asked the public to trust that it will do the right thing.
Until the cruise terminal discussion is open and forthright, that trust is going to be elusive.
By Tyrone Richardson
The Army Corps of Engineers and the State Ports Authority have halted their challenge of a judge’s decision that nixed a permit the SPA needed to build a new cruise terminal in downtown Charleston.
They filed the joint notice of withdrawal of appeal with the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., on Monday.
The move came a day before a mediator for the court was scheduled to meet with attorneys representing both sides in the appeal. The case centered on an Army Corps permit for pilings the SPA needs to drive to convert a warehouse into a $35 million passenger terminal at Union Pier.
Blan Holman, managing attorney for the Charleston office of the Southern Environmental Law Center and a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the withdrawal was a victory for the public.
“The government’s lawyers must have realized that a so-called maintenance permit issued in secret to build a $35 million cruise terminal was indefensible,” Holman said in a statement. “Too bad we had to resort to litigation to get here, but the good news is that the public will now have the chance to weigh in on how and where cruise operations should continue in the Charleston region. It’s never too late to get something big right – just look at the Ravenel Bridge.”
In September, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ruled that the Army Corps did not fully review the effects the project would have on the city’s historic district, saying the permitting agency gave the study “a bum’s rush.” He then ordered the Army Corps to redo the study with a more extensive review. The Army Corps will be reviewing what to do next, said spokeswoman Glenn Jeffries.
The SPA said in statement that it will “reserve its legal concerns regarding the district court’s decision for later review, if necessary, following additional action by the Corps.”
“We look forward to the next steps in consultation with the Corps relative to successfully renovating an existing warehouse into a replacement passenger terminal,” according to the statement
The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed the lawsuit after the Army Corps issued a permit allowing the five pilings to be driven on the waterfront.
The opposition groups have said the agency didn’t take into account the impact on historic properties that surround the area.
The SPA, which joined the lawsuit as a defendant, has been seeking to relocate its cruise terminal to the north end of Union Pier from the south end for about three years.
The case is one of three legal challenges regarding expanded cruise operations in Charleston.
Reach Tyrone Richardson at 937-5550 or twitter.com/tyrichardsonPC.
Please click on the header below to see the video footage from this Anderson Cooper exclusive!
It was the vacation from hell for thousands of passengers stuck on-board the Carnival Triumph. A fire knocked out the ship’s power, which meant no air conditioning, no lights, little food and water… and no flushing toilets. Conditions were so bad it was nicknamed “The Poop Cruise.” Now CNN has learned that the ship set sail with only four of six generators operating and knew of a generator fire hazard across its fleet of ships. Investigative Correspondent Drew Griffin is Keeping Them Honest.
You do well to be concerned about cruise ships in Charleston. I lived in St. Thomas for 27 years and watched the development and growth of the Cruise Ship Industry down there up to and including the point where the entire island was Cruise Ship dependent.
The Cruise Ship Industry is parasitic–not symbiotic. They devastated St. Thomas in many areas–the hotel industry, the local restaurants (back on board before dinner and a bag lunch provided for those who debarked) and the local businesses.
On St. Thomas the progression of the relationship with the onshore businesses began with backroom deals with some stores where the ships promised to steer traffic (via deals made with the Taxi Assoc.) to their stores and not others. Money changing hands off the record.
I sold handmade seed jewelry at a lookout in St. Thomas for 20 years. The cruise ships promised the Botanical Gardens gift shops to take passengers to them and bypass the local vendors (that’s me–and others) selling at the Drake’s Seat lookout. But not all the taxi men were complicit–small islands breed personal relationships and the vendors had longstanding relationships with many of the drivers–and others, bless their hearts, just didn’t like to be told what to do and were sympathetic to our plight.
The ships (via the St. Thomas Taxi Assoc.) then sent a man to sit up at Drake’s Seat and take the license numbers of all taxis that stopped there informing them they wouldn’t be allowed to ferry cruise ship passengers unless they cooperated. Since the cruise ships by then were the mainstay of the economy the threat had clout.
In the end we lost about 60% of our trade–which still speaks well for the brave 40% that couldn’t be bullied. Anyway it did the local businesses no good in the end. (I had to go looking for part-time work to supplement my income–others just went under.
Last time I visited St. Thomas I heard from more than one tourist that Carnival Lines was telling them not to buy ANYTHING on shore–that they could beat any onshore price right on the boat….well really!!!
In short, in case you haven’t gotten the message already, the cruise ships are rapacious and seeking as much of a monopoly as possible over the tourist dollars they are ferrying around. They’re not into sharing and care not a damn about the welfare of the local populations where they dock.
I’m very glad your group is in place to keep an eye on them. Perhaps my experience may prompt you to include certain up-till-now not considered clauses in your limitations of how they behave in Charleston.
Thank you for your concern and work
All best wishes,
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: November 4, 2013 at 3:29 PM ET
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A citizens group from Charleston has formed a coalition with similar groups in Venice, Italy, and Key West, Fla., to work for regulations protecting smaller historic port cities from the congestion and pollution that can accompany cruise calls.
“The only way we can do anything is if we work together and if we shout together,” Carrie Agnew, executive director of Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, said Monday. “By working together and by joining forces and sending out the same messages everywhere we can have that much more credibility, we can have that much more reach.”
The Charleston group will work with a group called No Big Boats in Venice and the Key West Committee for Responsible Tourism. The size and number of cruise ships has been a subject of controversy in both cities in recent years and “Charleston is sort of on a precipice,” Agnew said.
Agnew says her group does not want to ban the cruise industry. “What we are looking for are reasonable regulations for port cities,” she said.
The Charleston group has proposed a Cruise Ship Code of Conduct that includes a ban on ships with a capacity of more than 3,000 from regularly visiting the city, limiting cruise calls in the city to two a week and requiring ships to use onshore power or burn low sulfur fuel while idling at dockside.
Supporters of the Charleston’s cruise industry say the city will only be a niche market and that the cruise trade is being appropriately handled. They say it creates jobs and is an economic boost for the city.
Carnival Cruise Lines’ 2,056-passenger liner Fantasy has home-ported in Charleston for more than three years. Before that, cruises made port calls, but no ships were based in the city.
The expanded cruise industry and the South Carolina State Ports Authority’s plans for a $35 million cruise terminal has resulted in lawsuits by environmental, preservation and neighborhood groups in state and federal court and a permit challenge in state administrative law court.
On Nov. 19, the state Supreme Court hears arguments in a lawsuit alleging that cruises in the city are a public nuisance and violate city zoning ordinances.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina State Ports Authority is appealing a federal judge’s decision tossing out a permit to install pilings allowing the terminal to be built. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled earlier in September there was no adequate review of the effects on the city’s historic district. Another challenge to a state permit for those pilings will be heard in administrative law court early next year.
The S.C. State Ports Authority is seeking to appeal a federal judge’s recent decision that forces the Army Corps of Engineers to further review the agency’s proposed $35 million cruise terminal in downtown Charleston.
Lawyers for the state’s maritime agency filed a notice late Thursday that they are appealing to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.
In September, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel ordered the Army Corps to redo the study that gave a permit for SPA to build the new cruise terminal at Union Pier. Gergel ordered the Army Corps to go back and review the project more thoroughly.
“By filing the notice of appeal to the fourth circuit court of appeals, the Ports Authority is proceeding with the process provided by law for a new review of the Corps’ authorization for the additional pilings at its marine terminal,” SPA spokeswoman Erin Pabst said in a written statement.
The Coastal Conservation League and the Preservation Society of Charleston filed the case after the Army Corps issued a permit allowing five pilings to be driven on the waterfront.
The pilings are needed to help transform an existing warehouse into the new passenger building.
The opposition groups have said the agency didn’t take into account the impact on historic properties.
The SPA, which has joined the lawsuit as a defendant, has been seeking to relocate its cruise terminal to the north end of Union Pier from the south end for about three years.
The federal case is one of three lawsuits opposing extended cruise operations in downtown Charleston.