Posts Tagged c4

Free Shuttle to State Appeal Hearing 2/15/17

Join us in Columbia for the State Appeal hearing!! Please sign up for the free shuttle….we must have a final head count by Saturday, February 11.

Click here to join us

Details:

Oral arguments in the cruise terminal state permit case before the SC Court of Appeals in Columbia, SC on February 15, at noon. A free shuttle has been organized by Charleston Communities for Cruise Control and the Coastal Conservation League to take those interested in being present to and from Columbia. A reservation is required so the appropriate size bus is reserved. Please do so via the link below before February 11!

This is an appeal of a decision by S.C. Administrative Law Judge R. K. Anderson III holding that the groups lacked “standing” to challenge the legality of permits for the proposed cruise terminal.

This is a major reason in having actual “bodies” there, showing that the groups are comprised of taxpaying citizens, and should be allowed to contest the permit!

Our attorneys contend on appeal that the ALC judge erred because, in fact, our groups and members have more than enough at stake to entitle us to an administrative hearing on whether the SC DHEC permit was unlawfully issued.

Letting the ALC’s decision stand would severely curtail the ability of neighboring citizens to defend their health and their property from unlawfully authorized pollution.

The argument is open to the public and you are encouraged to attend.  The Courthouse is located in the Calhoun State Office Building at 1220 Senate Street in Columbia.

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

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

Charleston’s long-awaited tourism management plan got a green light to move forward Monday provided city leaders look for an alternative to Union Pier as the site of a new cruise ship terminal.

The city’s Planning Commission voted 8-1 to recommend to City Council that it approve the plan, with the condition that Council consider a new site for the terminal farther away from the city’s historic district. Dozens of people attended the meeting at the Charleston County Public Library on Calhoun Street.

Horse-drawn carriages and cars, both parked and on the move, share space on lower Meeting Street. Wade Spees/Staff

City leaders, with the help of a 27-member committee, have been working since December 2013 to update the plan, which hasn’t been updated since 1998. It strives to balance the needs of a strong tourism industry with residents’ concerns.

Tourism is a huge industry in Charleston, said city planning director Tim Keane. Visitors make up 16 percent of the city’s economy. And the industry is growing. The city had 2544 hotel rooms in 1995. Today, it has more than 3,569.

The plan addresses: tourism management and enforcement, visitor orientation, quality of life, special events and mobility and transportation.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said City Council approved the plan for the new terminal on Union Pier four years ago. And it won’t cause traffic congestion, he said, because Concord Street will be opened up and traffic will flow more smoothly.

Council isn’t required to follow the Planning Commission’s recommendation.

Carrie Agnew, executive director of Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, during the public comment portion of the meeting said “We need to re-establish the delicate balance between tourism and the people who live here.”

She remembers a time when she lived on Hassell Street and had to participate in a conference call in her bathroom because a cruise ship had just arrived and there was so much noise she couldn’t hear the call.

And a cruise terminal at Union Pier will make noise and traffic congestion worse, she said. “It absolutely should not be in the historic district.”

Cruise ship supporters have said the industry is an important part of the Lowcountry’s larger tourism economy and a source of jobs.

Opponents said they don’t want to ban all cruise ships, but they want the authority to consider sites other than Union Pier, and sites farther from the city’s historic district, for its new cruise ship terminal. Legal wrangling over that site — the 60 acres between Market, Washington and Laurens streets and the harbor — has slowed the state’s plans to redevelop the blighted area.

Traffic congestion related to tourism was another major concern raised at the meeting.

Keane said one of the key parts of the plan is to build a new visitors center farther north on the peninsula. People can park there and take public transportation to the historic district, he said. That should help alleviate some of the tourist traffic problems.

City Council must approve the plan. It will hold a public hearing and vote on initial approval on May 12. It will vote on whether to give the plan final approval May 26.

Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.

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Cruise opponents see dark lining in Sunshine’s arrival

Charleston residents battling the cruise ship industry say Carnival Cruise Lines’ plans to have another cruise ship depart from here next year is proof that their fight is a necessary one.

“I think we knew it was coming,” said Carrie Agnew, executive director of the Charleston Communities for Cruise Control, which has bought billboards and pursued legal action to torpedo the cruise industry’s growth here.

The addition of the Carnival Sunshine and its 3,000 potential passengers has reinforced Cruise Control’s message and already added to its mailing list, Agnew said.

“There are those who just don’t see the big picture and say, ‘Everything is fine now. Why should we be concerned?’ ” Agnew said. “So many people also have said, ‘Charleston is at a tipping point.’ I stood up at a meeting and said, ‘We’re not at a tipping point. We’ve tipped over,’ and now we’re adding more fuel to the fire.”

On Monday, Carnival Cruise Lines announced it will add five departures from Charleston next year for the Sunshine. Carnival’s Fantasy, which holds about 1,000 fewer passengers, will continue to call Charleston its home port.

The Sunshine will offer cruises of between two and 10 days between Charleston and ports in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts and San Juan.

State Ports Authority director Jim Newsome said the port will maintain its level of fewer than 104 cruise ship departures next year.

One of the biggest issues in Charleston’s yearslong cruise ship fight is fear that the city eventually will be overrun by larger ships carrying ever more passengers and calling on the city more often.

City and State Ports Authority officials say those concerns are unfounded, and they have agreed to limit cruise ships to no more than an average of two calls here a week, and no more than one at a time. Opponents want those voluntarily limits written into a law.

Cruise ship supporters have said the industry is an important part of the Lowcountry’s larger tourism economy, a source of jobs and a continuation of an activity that this port city has had from its earliest days.

Opponents said they don’t want to ban all cruise ships, but they want the authority to consider sites other than Union Pier, and sites farther from the city’s historic district, for its new cruise ship terminal. Legal wrangling over that site — the 60 acres between Market, Washington and Laurens streets and the harbor — has slowed the state’s plans to redevelop the blighted area.

Cruise opponents also said not enough is being done to address traffic congestion caused by ship visits, air pollution from smokestacks, noise from ship horns and public address systems, and the visual impact on the city’s historic skyline. They have filed legal challenges in both state and federal courts.

Blan Holman, managing attorney for the Charleston office of the Southern Environmental Law Center and a lawyer for the cruise ship opponents, said the news of the Sunshine’s visits here next year shows the cruise industry can get bigger in Charleston.

“And that just makes thorough review of a new, larger terminal more important than ever to make sure we examine all options for reducing pollution and traffic and impacts on families and neighborhoods,” he said.

Randy Pelzer, head of the Charles Towne Neighborhood’s cruise ship task force, said news of the Sunshine’s arrival doesn’t mean much in terms of current legal battles, “but I think it points out that residents aren’t consulted in terms of the larger number of cruise ships that impact them.”

“I was surprised there wasn’t any effort to notify the residents ahead of time, that we found out about it after it was a done deal,” he added, “but that’s the way it has been from the beginning.”

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
Click to view article

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More cruises, more questions

Less than a month before the updated Tourism Management Plan gets its first official airing, the S.C. State Ports Authority is changing the tourism equation in Charleston.

The SPA is allowing Carnival Cruise Lines to increase its presence in Charleston. The cruise ship Sunshine will start five cruises here in 2016.

Those are in addition to cruises of the Fantasy, which is home ported in Charleston.

Crowding and traffic on the peninsula are two primary considerations of the Tourism Management Plan update. Too bad port officials didn’t wait for the report before considering the Sunshine deal.

The tourism report will be heard at a special Charleston Planning Commission meeting on April 6, and then likely be sent to City Council for consideration on May 12.

Some recommendations that might be included involve a remote parking facility, shore power and a passenger head tax by the city. All could have an impact on Carnival’s contracts with the SPA.

Already the SPA has said no cruise ships with more than 3,500 passengers will come to Charleston. The Fantasy’s capacity is 2,056. The Sunshine’s is about 3,002.

What might come next? The passenger terminal that the SPA wants to build would accommodate even larger ships.

The process of updating the city’s Tourism Management Plan was encouraging in the way people of diverse interests cooperated to produce a mutually acceptable set of recommendations that would benefit the city.

The SPA could have displayed that same sense of cooperation by considering the updated plan before inking deals.

See article here

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A New Tide of Tourism

Ah, the Tourism Management Plan.  Well, that got slightly derailed when Historic Charleston Foundation decided it could, in spite of the 2014 moratorium, add candlelight tours in February.(1)  Now the plan is beginning to leave the tracks…before it’s released.

Carnival has announced that a second cruise ship will make five visits to Charleston next year.  That’s in addition to calls by the Fantasy, Carnival’s ship that’s already home-ported here.  According to the Post and Courier, “the Carnival Sunshine is a larger ship than the Fantasy, carrying about 1,000 more passengers and crew.”(2)   According to Carnival’s website, The Sunshine “has been doused with an extra dose of fun” to accompany her 3000 passengers and 1040 crew.(3)   One wonders if this extra dose of fun was brought to the attention of the Tourism Management Committee?

There can’t be a trend here, because according to State Ports Authority’s CEO Jim Newsome, the port will maintain its level of fewer than 104 cruise ship departures per year.  Remember that’s one of the voluntary limits that the SC Ports Authority (SPA) agreed to.  Mayor Joseph Riley said recently that there was a signed agreement with the SPA limiting cruise ship tourism.  Except that we don’t know of one.  Perhaps, Mr. Mayor, you could forward that signed agreement to us, and we’ll publish it with our next blog?  But “no worries,” as the kids would say.  Because there was that much-touted City Council resolution  passed in response to cruise ship concerns.  Except that that resolution doesn’t limit anything.  It only requires the SPA to notify the City a year in advance if those voluntary limits of 104 cruise ship visits and a maximum of 3500 passengers per ship would be exceeded.  What a happy coincidence, it turns out, that cruise ship schedules are created a year in advance.  Notification should be no problem; the problem will arise when that notification occurs.

The Post and Courier editorial board is on top of this problem.  Yesterday’s editorial, “More Cruises, More Questions,” asks the penultimate question.  “What might come next? The passenger terminal that the SPA wants to build would accommodate even larger ships.”(4)  Yes, it would. Union Pier is over 1800 feet long—enough to accommodate both the Fantasy and the Sunshine at the same time—although we’ve been promised that two cruise ships would never be in port at the same time.  However, Union Pier also can accommodate the largest ship now afloat.  No worries…

Except that the Panama Canal is being widened and, in anticipation, giant Post-Panamax cargo ships are already entering our port.  Add in that the Chinese middle class, the ideal target for cruise travel, is growing rapidly.  So bigger, wider cruise ships are sure to follow.  And that’s still not the worst problem.  That problem is President Obama’s unilateral gift to the ruthless, despotic Castro brothers—opening American tourism to siphon American dollars to prop up their dictatorship.  If Carnival Cruise Lines wanted a big gift, they got it.   Ironically, one of the Sunshine’s bars is “the already classic Havana Bar.”   So this is the ultimate question—what city do you think will be hosting some of those ships headed for Cuba?   Carnival’s ready, Charleston isn’t.  We’ll soon be “doused with an extra dose of fun.”

And what about those voluntary, unenforceable cruise ship limits?

There’s only one solution.  It’s not just shore power; shore power isn’t going to slow the rising tide of cruise ship tourism.  It’s not a head tax, although money to offset the cost for police, fire and rescue equipment required for every ship visit could really help.  The only permanent solution is to move the proposed cruise terminal away from the Historic Districts and downtown, farther north to the Columbus Street Terminal closer to major highways, so that passengers who are destined for the Bahamas or Cuba don’t overrun and kill what remains of Charleston’s charm and quality of life.   If they want to see and appreciate Charleston’s history and culture, they’re welcome.  But for those cruisers who just want an ice cream and a t-shirt, they certainly don’t need to drive through town and park on valuable waterfront land to get them. Then Union Pier could be sold at a much greater profit to the SPA and prudently developed to provide a breathtaking enhancement to downtown Charleston.

We’re certain the recommendation to move the cruise terminal away from downtown will be a key component of that Tourism Management Plan.

—Jay Williams, Jr
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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.

Footnotes/links:

1)  Historic Charleston website – candlelight tours
https://www.historiccharleston.org/Museums.aspx

2)  More container volume, new cruise ship for Port of Charleston – Post and Courier
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150316/PC05/150319463

3)  Carnival Sunshine – Carnival website
http://www.carnival.com/cruise-ships/carnival-sunshine.aspx

4)  “More cruises, more questions”  – Post and Courier editorial
http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150319/PC1002/150319286/1506/more-cruises-more-questions

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The City of Charleston embraces cruise ships, shuns new bars

Every municipal policy decision involves a value judgment. The judgments are not always between right and wrong and can often be subjective, particularly when it concerns the type of vices a city wants to eliminate or benefits it wants to attract.

Most reasonable people can agree that unchecked noise, pollution, or crowding in a limited urban space is a bad thing. However when noise, pollution, or crowds are financially beneficial to a city, difficult choices are often made. And those choices do not always reflect the wishes of residents or even the business community.

For instance, the City of Charleston made a choice when it decided that despite the crowds and pollution that cruise ships bring, the benefit of additional tourist dollars makes those negative side effects worth it. It didn’t matter that many residents feared Charleston would become the next Key West or experience increased traffic congestion. It didn’t matter that historic preservation organizations filed lawsuits against the cruise line or that they commissioned studies to show that the economic impact from cruise visitors were not as beneficial to local businesses as the city claimed. Despite the outcry, Mayor Riley and company decided that the benefits from the cruise ships were worth the traffic and the congestion, the complaints and the lawsuits. Charleston even went as far as to join with a cruise line in a lawsuit. That decision was the result of a value judgment.

Now there is another value judgment being made by the City of Charleston. In this case, Mayor Riley and his administration believe that the tax revenue from bars and restaurants is not worth the additional noise, congested streets, and pollution caused by patrons, particularly between the hours of 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. If the rationale for the new midnight closing ordinance is to be believed, we have reached a tipping point where the addition of new establishments would greatly damage the quality of life for some, but not all or even most, of the city’s residents. This judgment has been made despite the fact that capital investment for new bars, restaurants, and hotels in the so-called Entertainment Overlay District have skyrocketed, much to the city’s financial benefit.

Years ago, the City of Charleston had a vested interest in attracting new businesses to then-suffering Upper King Street and the Market area. Not too long ago, Upper King was not a safe place to wander after dark, and even further back, the Market area used to be described as seedy. But the city had a plan. Power lines were put underground. Businesses were asked to contribute to fancy bluestone sidewalks. Stores which were falling apart, like the old Condon’s Department Store, were transformed into apartments for college students and recent graduates. And slowly the tide began to turn. Today, both areas are bustling hubs of activity, day and night.

When the new luxury apartments along King and Meeting streets are able to successfully charge the high rents that they do, it is because of their proximity to Upper King and the bars and restaurants that call the area home. When bar owners invest hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating buildings on Upper King that just five years ago were deserted storefronts, it is because the City of Charleston succeeded in its efforts to attract business. Those investments worked because today Upper King and the Market are areas where young professionals, recent college grads, and tourists want to be. They spend money to eat, drink, and live where there is a vibrant nightlife. So how is it fair for those policy makers to arbitrarily draw a line in the sand and say that the crowds are now too much for the sidewalks to handle? Is there a study that we all somehow missed? And exactly how does the city square its opposition to new bars and its unwavering support for cruise ships and a new downtown cruise ship terminal despite the public outcry?

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Charleston Tackles Tourist Managament Plan

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Click to view the footage from Live5 News

Mayor Joe Riley and other Charleston City officials heard from the public Thursday as the City tackles revising its tourism management plan for the first time in 16 years.

The tourism management plan was established in 1978 and last updated in 1998. City officials say they are working towards presenting a revision by the end of the year. Many say it’s long overdue.

“I feel more and more like we’re a revolving door for tourists,” says downtown resident Carrie Agnew.

Traffic on the peninsula, cruise ships and enforcement of existing tourism ordinances were among the key concerns at Thursday’s public forum.

Mayor Joe Riley says ordinances need to be updated to reflect the city and preserve quality of life.

“The first responsibility of a government and the first goal of a city have to be a good place for people to live first…a good place for people to work and then a good place for people to visit.”

Some residents say they appreciate that Charleston is a top vacation destination, but they fear livability has taken a back seat to tourism. Agnew, who has lived downtown for several years, says she plans around the cruise schedule.

“I know when a cruise ship is going to be here so that I can avoid certain areas. I know which streets are going to be hard to get down.”

Agnew, along with others, says they left feeling optimistic that change will come sooner than later.

“There needs to be a lot of involvement with people who are actually benefiting from tourism and are able and capable of handling most of the issues being brought up,” says business owner Walter Thorn.

City officials say the next step is for five task forces to talk and work through the suggestions they received from residents about two months ago.

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