Posts Tagged cruise

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

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

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

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

This time around, the Corps promises a thorough job.

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

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

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

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

Opponents of these assertions were ready.

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

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

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

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

 

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

Visual Impact Analysis: Cruise ships in downtown Charleston

Check out this slideshow by The National Trust depicting the visual impacts larger cruise ships will have on our skyline.

Port Love | If You Were Mayor

Port Love

Jun 30, 2015 by Whitney Powers

We applaud the Ports Authority for their $5 million investment to be used for the purchase and protection of land along the Cooper River watershed to mitigate the potential effects of deepening Charleston Harbor. The agreement, made earlier this year, was reached in collaboration with the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, the Coastal Conservation League, and the Southern Environmental Law Center. This type of cooperative work can make our city and port even better.

 

SOME HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The port has existed here for virtually as long as the settlement of Charleston.  Today, the port consists of five public marine terminals and is owned and operated by the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA), a self-governing entity created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1942, with board members appointed by the state’s Governor and confirmed by the State Senate.

 

The historical significance of the port is illustrated by Charleston’s colorful maritime history, with many of the city’s earliest historic structures having been constructed as businesses associated with port operations – cooperages (barrels are the original “containers”), smithies, stevedoring companies, warehouses, etc.  The city’s historic waterfront, now a public promenade and park, was once marked by numerous wharfs, hundreds of masts of sailing vessels, shipbuilding, and provisioning operations. If other myths hold any truth, numerous of the city’s earliest streets and walks were constructed from ballast recycled from ships loaded with items destined for global destinations, including indigo, rice, and cotton.

 

This early Charleston invited people of many backgrounds, often unwelcome in other parts of the world, who found their way here for economic opportunities – French, Scottish, Irish, and German, as well as Jews and Catholics. Sephardic Jews (of Spanish and Portugese ancestry) migrated to the city in such numbers that Charleston became one of the largest Jewish communities in North America (see maritimeheritage.org). From the late 18th through the 19th century Charleston also served as the most active port in the trade of slaves in America, and many Africans, free and slave, lived here outnumbering white residents by a long shot. (see this animated map illustrating the slave trade that is generated from data at slavevoyages.org).

 

THE PRESENT

Today, the port’s focus is the movement of containerized shipments and passenger vehicles; and, it consistently ranks in the top 5 of the nation’s containerized ports. Jobs at the port have long been a fundamental source of well-paying, stable jobs in the Charleston region as evidenced by the success represented by the members of such organizations as the International Longshoremen’s Association and the Charleston Branch Pilots Association. Basically, its operations employ “hundreds of thousands” and generate “in excess of $45 billion per year” in economic impacts.

 

The port’s mission, as one would expect, is largely focused on the bottom-line, especially as it faces fierce competition from other nearby ports in Savannah and Jacksonville:

“The South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) promotes, develops, and facilitates waterborne commerce to meet the current and future needs of its customers, and for the economic benefit of the citizens and businesses of South Carolina. The SCPA fulfills this mission by delivering cost competitive facilities and services, collaborating with customers and stakeholders, and sustaining its financial self-sufficiency.”

 

Sometimes, adherence to this mission runs up against the interests of many who live in proximity to port facilities. The Port Authority has made many efforts to be responsive to local concerns, but with growth in cruise ship traffic in recent years, the local population has increasingly questioned the port’s intentions and its future. Port officials point to their efforts at downtown’s Union Pier to modernize the passenger terminal facilities, including development of parking facilities and completing road connectivity in the vicinity, to mitigate impacts of the embarkation of cruise ships. The community calls for more controls, including the use of shore power when in port and limitations on the number of cruise ship visits during the course of the year. The port recognizes that cultivating and fostering the community is key to the success of its cruise business. However, at this stage, the back-and-forth has mired everyone in lawsuits and there is frustration on all sides.

 

AN EXAMPLE FROM ABROAD

A year ago, I traveled to Amsterdam with my daughter and visited the National Maritime Museum of the Netherlands, Het Scheepvaartmuseum. Recognizing that Rotterdam was the largest container port outside of China, I was curious how this museum portrayed this vital industry through their history and how they reconciled this history with the future. The historic exhibits were fascinating – the Dutch essentially invented the concept of container transport – and, in one instance, frightening. Slave Trade: The Dark Chapter (see NYTimes review here), underscored that trade’s horrors through installations focused on the slave ship Leusden which sank in Suriname, South America, in 1738. After the ship ran aground, the ship’s captain ordered the “cargo” to be secured in the hold to ensure the investors received an insurance settlement for the loss, and almost 700 African men, women, and children drowned. If there was one thing you could take away from the exhibit, the Dutch do not shirk the dark side of their shipping history.

 

The final exhibit in the museum, a film projection, took visitors on to the docks and aboard ship from the point of view of a container, and focused on aspects of shipping that Rotterdam uses to distinguish its competitive edge: efficiency, safety, and sustainability.

 

This seems an interesting triumvirate to success, and is reflected in the port’s strategic plan, Port Compass 2030 (a synopsis in English is here). This document, developed in cooperation with the municipal government, port business association, provincial government, and national government, focuses on ten priorities ranging from infrastructure development to cultivating education geared towards employment. An annual report keeps all stakeholders informed as to the progress (or lack of progress) in each category.

 

Digging a bit more, one finds a somewhat different mission statement than that of the SCPA: “The Port of Rotterdam Authority develops, in partnership, the world-class European port.”  The port’s website corroborates the exhibit’s message: “We continuously improve the Port of Rotterdam, to make it the most efficient, safe, and sustainable port in the world…”

 

THE FUTURE 

Theirs may seem a rather basic inconclusive mission, but there is also a distinction in Rotterdam’s governance that might be a more significant clue to how Charleston’s port might consider serving the community interests along with those commercial goals of the state: “The Port of Rotterdam Authority is an autonomous company with two shareholders, the municipality of Rotterdam and the Dutch state.”

 

Could the South Carolina Ports Authority in Charleston benefit from a Board of Directors that includes representatives who serve at the behest of the communities most impacted by the port operations? A thriving Charleston benefits most from a thriving, economically viable port relationship. It might be time to consider more ways to deepen the ties that bind us to our historic port, cultivate more ways to foster the resources that we share, and find economic opportunities that can create a competitive edge that is distinctive and adds value for the port’s customers.

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.

Letter to Planning Commission re. 2015 Update to the Tourism Management Plan, Cruise Recommendations

April 6, 2015
City of Charleston Planning Commission
68 Calhoun Street
Charleston, SC 29403

Re: 2015 Update to the Tourism Management Plan, Cruise Recommendations

Dear City of Charleston Planning Commissioners:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft City of Charleston Tourism Management Plan—2015 Plan Update. Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (C4) includes residents of the greater Charleston area, downtown business owners, and others concerned that the delicate balance of our historic residential port city be restored while continuing to provide an unforgettable tourist experience. The Coastal Conservation League represents 5,000 members and works to protect the natural landscapes, abundant wildlife, clean water, and quality of life here in South Carolina.

Updating our city’s tourism management plan is an opportunity to achieve a delicate balance between tourism and residential quality of life. Several recommendations related to cruise tourism are included in the document, for which we commend the committee. However, it is imperative that the City take a proactive stance with cruise tourism, as it has done with all other facets of tourism here, particularly since the cruise industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world.

No other cruise port in the world has hosted cruises without detrimental effects, and many have implemented guidelines in order to protect their communities. Implementation of our suggested changes will help our city once again be a leading force for tourism management in the nation as well a vibrant living historic city.

Therefore, here are four changes that will strengthen the document before you tonight:

Shorepower for Ships
Rather than the ongoing milestone “continuing the dialogue on the installation of shore power,” the City of Charleston should expect that the State Ports Authority (SPA) is contracting only homeported ships that are shore power-capable.
If that expectation is not met, the SPA will not renew contracts and only work with homeported ships that are shore power-capable.
Our suggestion complements both the South Carolina State Legislature’s budget proviso, which states that any cruise terminal built or designed in Charleston County during the 2014-2015 fiscal year must be capable of providing electrical shore power to the ships it serves, as well as Charleston City Council’s 2014 resolution, which supports shore power at the cruise terminal if needed. It is needed now. Because it has been demonstrated by the foremost expert on shipping emissions that shorepower is needed, and several other ports around the world have implemented the use of shore power without any regulatory mandate, a recommendation in the updated Tourism Management Plan requiring shorepower capability both landside and shipside for the cruise industry is sensible and overdue.

We recommend the deadline for achieving this milestone be set for the port and city to pass a joint resolution agreeing to these retrofits by December 2015.

Pollution Logs
Charleston takes its water quality and aesthetics seriously, and with good reason: the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism has valued coastal tourism, boat manufacturing, and commercial fisheries as totaling more than $11.5 billion in direct, indirect, and induced resources annually. Federal law allows the cruise industry to discharge raw sewage, garbage, and untreated graywater when at least three miles from shore.
Carnival claims it has a voluntary corporate policy not to discharge anything within twelve miles of shore, but does not provide proof. Therefore, we recommend adding that the port and City of Charleston publish quarterly records supplied by Carnival Corporation on discharges made within   twelve miles of Charleston’s shores, and agree to start doing so within three months.

Legalize limits
The addition of the Carnival Sunshine as a second homeported ship in Charleston shows the need to strengthen the limits of a maximum of 104 cruise visits per year that carry no more than 3,500 passengers per ship.

The current ordinance details a one-year notification process for the SPA to alert the city to increases beyond their currently-stated limits. It is not an ordinance designed to maintain a balance. This should be revised to officially set the limits at 104 ship visits per year, with no ship larger than 3,500 passenger capacity. The city must have the power to do with cruise ships exactly what it does with every other type of tourism.

Location, location, location
We are pleased to support the evaluation of remote passenger parking within a year to reduce congestion.
It is important to note that the City of Charleston and community groups have spent considerable amounts of money and time (Charleston Mobility Report by Gabe Klein; City of Charleston Downtown Plan; City of Charleston Century V Plan) to assess how to reduce traffic congestion on the peninsula, and are examining outer area parking at garages in the Neck area, and increasing shuttles, bike share, and other solutions. To allow cruise passengers to continue to drive into the heart of the peninsula is not consistent with other traffic studies.
In addition, within three months, the port must make public its assessment of alternative sites for the cruise terminal and how it reached the conclusion that the southeast’s most valuable waterfront property is most appropriate as a cruise terminal, particularly when cruise only constitutes approximately five percent of the port’s overall business. The location of a cruise terminal in the heart of historic downtown is in direct contrast with what other cruise ports across the country have designed. The SPA must also show how this particular cruise location fits within the vision the city is moving towards with development and quality of life on the peninsula.
The port should also present the development plan for the entirety of the Union Pier property in order to clarify which entities will have what responsibility—for example, many citizens wrongly believe that if the new cruise terminal is located at the northern end of Union Pier, the city will then own the remainder of the property.
Thank you for your consideration of our suggestions. We seek to make this update to the Tourism Management Plan the best possible, and believe that implementation of our suggestions will do so.

Sincerely,
Carrie Agnew
Executive Director
Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (C4)
cruisestandards@gmail.com
Katie Zimmerman
Program Director
Air, Water & Public Health
Coastal Conservation League
katiez@scccl.org

More container volume, new cruise ship for Port of Charleston

The Port of Charleston is seeing an increase in both cargo and cruise ships.

Carnival Cruise Lines announced Monday that it will add five departures in 2016 for its Carnival Sunshine cruise ship. Those voyages will be in addition to departures by the Carnival Fantasy, which calls Charleston its home port.

Meanwhile, at the cargo docks, the port notched a 16.9 percent increase in the number of containers that moved through local terminals in February compared to the previous year, and Jim Newsome – president and CEO of the State Ports Authority – said Monday that he expects the total to top 1 million containers before the end of this fiscal year.

“February container volumes were particularly strong for a short month,” Newsome said following a meeting of the SPA’s board of directors. “Our import gains are reflective of a strengthening U.S. economy and population growth across the Southeast, while manufacturing in our state and region bolsters our export business. Loaded-box volumes last month were nearly completely balanced between imports and exports.”

In the cruise news, the Carnival Sunshine is a larger ship than the Fantasy, carrying about 1,000 more passengers and crew. It will offer cruises of between two and 10 days and will sail to ports in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, Antigua, Martinique, St. Kitts and San Juan.

Christine Duffey, president of Carnival Cruise Lines, said in a statement that Carnival Sunshine will offer “an extraordinary array of guest features and facilities,” including upgraded dining and entertainment that was part of Carnival’s Fun Ship 2.0 modernization program initiated in 2011.

Even with the additional sailings, Newsome said the port will maintain its level of fewer than 100 cruise ship departures per year.

To date, cruise ship passenger counts are down 5 percent from the previous year — to 121,270 people — due to a pair of weather-related cancellations.

The SPA has recorded $123 million in revenue this fiscal year, up nearly 21 percent from the same period a year ago. Earnings have tripled to nearly $20 million during the same time period.

Newsome said the port is entering one of its strongest stretches historically — the period of March through May — and he expects continued growth in cargo as the fiscal year winds down June 30.

The SPA’s noncontainerized business also saw increases in February. The Port of Georgetown handled 15,520 tons last month and is 5 percent ahead of its plan for the fiscal year. In Charleston, the SPA is on course to meet its break-bulk tonnage goal with 58,685 tons handled in February.

In other action during Monday’s meeting:

The board approved a contract for routine maintenance dredging at the North Charleston Terminal, which typically occurs every 12 to 15 months to preserve a 50-foot depth for large containerships.

The board approved a design modification to the two super-post-Panamax cranes on order for the Wando Welch Terminal.

Click to read article
Reach David Wren at 937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_

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

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
#   #    #

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

South Carolina Ports again seek cruise terminal permit

By BRUCE SMITH Associated Press

Aug 16 2014 12:13 pm
The cruise liner Crystal Symphony leaves the harbor in Charleston in this May 2013 file photo, The South Carolina Ports Authority is renewing its request for a federal permit for a new $35 million cruise terminal in Charleston.

The cruise liner Crystal Symphony leaves the harbor in Charleston in this May 2013 file photo, The South Carolina Ports Authority is renewing its request for a federal permit for a new $35 million cruise terminal in Charleston. AP PHOTO/BRUCE SMITH, FILE

Nearly a year after a judge tossed out a permit for a $35 million cruise terminal in Charleston, the South Carolina Ports Authority is once again seeking federal permission for the project.

Documents provided The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act show a new review of the contentious project will be more extensive than that conducted when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave initial permission in April of 2012. And another state approval is now needed.

The Ports Authority needs a federal permit to place additional pilings beneath on old waterfront warehouse it wants to renovate as a new terminal.

Environmental and preservation groups challenged the original permit and U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel tossed it out last September. He ruled while the Corps considered how the terminal would affect navigable waters it did not study the larger impacts on the city and its historic district.

In a July 23 letter to the Corps, James Van Ness, a Ports Authority vice president, asks the Corps again begin its review of the project.

In response, Charleston District Engineer Lt. Col. John Litz said he will use his discretionary authority to require an individual permit, meaning a more detailed review. The earlier federal approval came under a so-called nationwide permit that authorizes, with limited delay and paperwork, activities considered to have only minimal environmental impact.

Litz asked the Ports Authority for any information that will be helpful when the Corps issues a public permit notice.

“The proposed project has received substantial media attention regarding potential impacts to air quality, historic properties and roadway traffic in the vicinity of the existing marine cargo and passenger terminal,” he wrote. “Providing information about these issues will help inform the Corps’ public interest review and will also inform interested parties.”

The Ports Authority will also now need to apply for a separate state water quality certification. That wasn’t needed before because that state approval was encompassed in the federal nationwide permit.

Blan Holman, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which has represented groups opposing the terminal, welcomes the wider federal review.

“The Corps is right to take a fresh, public look at the major impacts this proposal will have on Charleston for years to come and options like shore power that could reduce them,” he said.

It’s been four years since the terminal was proposed and since Carnival Cruise Lines based its 2,056-passenger liner Fantasy in Charleston, giving the city a year-round cruise industry.

Those opposing the terminal want a limit on the number and size of cruise ships and want the ships to either use electric power from the shore or to burn low sulfur fuel while idling at dockside.

Supporters of the cruise industry say it’s only a niche market, creates jobs in Charleston and is being appropriately handled.

A challenge to a state permit for the terminal pilings is now before the South Carolina Court of Appeals.

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