See the mayoral candidates’ responses to the Coastal Conservation League’s question about “cruise control.” Stavrinakis: Stavrinakis declined the League’s invitation to participate in the one-hour interview.
Ginny Deerin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70wbkvV5Zto
William Dudley Gregorie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh-3c5QgQhc
Toby Smith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qskM84z6cI4
John Tecklenburg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl1C3W27-EY
Paul Tinkler: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imMhK0i5124
Maurice Washington: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPmbfFZXfBM
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.
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.
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.
Charleston Communities for Cruise Control (C4)
Air, Water & Public Health
Coastal Conservation League
If Charleston City Council, when asked Tuesday to support reducing air pollution from cruise ships, says “no,” local residents should have some serious concerns about the people who have been elected to represent them.
The debate over cruise ships in Charleston has been long and heated about whether they bring too much crowding and too few economic benefits.
But the Medical Society of Charleston and the state medical association have both called for shoreside power to all but eliminate emissions that can harm people’s hearts and lungs and have been associated with cancer.
Those emissions could be reduced significantly by switching to shore power.
Neighbors of the port have talked about the buildup of soot on their homes from cruise ships and their health concerns about breathing polluted air. Numerous ports have made the switch to shore power to address health risks.
Recognizing that, the federal Maritime Administration recently agreed to contribute $700,000 for the construction of a test hydrogen cell power system at the Port of Honolulu. Why? It would be cost effective and more environmentally friendly than diesel fuel.
Carnival Cruiselines, wanting to use less expensive fuel than the government is mandating, is experimenting with scrubbers to reduce some of the emissions, and thereby satisfy those tougher regulations.
Anything to reduce pollution is good, but scrubbers are not the final answer in Charleston. Dr. Robert Ball, chairman of the Charleston County Medical Society’s Public/Environmental Health Committee, said, “Scrubbers are inadequate to satisfactorily address long-term public health concerns. They are, according to current data, one-fourth as efficient as shore power.”
Still, the SPA has not embraced the idea of shoreside power. It is working with DHEC toward monitoring the impact of vessels’ engines.
And a port spokeswoman alluded to “more modern technologies that provide equal or greater benefit,” but offered no specifics.
That possibility is hardly an excuse for failing to include shoreside power in plans for the terminal. If, before construction, something far superior appears, plans can change. But if it doesn’t, the people who live and work and visit the area near the port should be assured that they will be spared noxious emissions.
Mr. Gregorie hopes that if council approves the resolution, the state Legislature will take note as it considers setting aside up to $5 million to install shore power.
The allocation was proposed by Reps. Jim Merrill, R-Charleston, and Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston. It has been approved by the House Ways and Means Committee.
City Council could mend some fences and demonstrate it has residents’ best interests at heart by supporting Mr. Gregorie’s resolution. Failing to do so would send a message that members don’t really care if people are exposed to cruise ship air pollution. Or if members do care, they don’t care enough to take a stand on the issue.
Or it could signal that Charleston’s elected officials are more interested in pleasing the SPA than taking care of residents. The people of Charleston are as eager as the rest of the state to see the port continue to be a success. But it isn’t as if the SPA would be asked to do anything many other ports aren’t already doing by using shore power.
Banners on numerous houses in downtown Charleston call for reducing cruise ship emissions by adding shore power. Neighborhood associations support the idea.
The movement isn’t arbitrary or insignificant. And data support what they stand for.
Cleaner air for Charleston? There’s no reason to say “no.”
by Tyrone Richardson, Post and Courier
Cruise ships docked in Charleston soon could be plugging into a shoreside power outlet, a welcome development for groups that have complained about fumes from the idling vessels.
State Reps. Jim Merrill and Leon Stavrinakis announced a plan Friday to authorize up to $5 million to install the necessary equipment at the State Ports Authority passenger terminal at Union Pier.
Merrill, R-Charleston, and Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, both serve on the House Ways and Means Committee. They expect their proposal to be included in this year’s budget.
“With this new technology, Charleston will be a national leader in both economic growth and environmental innovation,” Stavrinakis said in a statement. “Shoreside power will ultimately bring more tourism dollars to Charleston while cleaning up our air at the same time.”
Shoreside power has been mentioned as one way to bring together the feuding sides in a long-running dispute about the future of the cruise industry in Charleston.
Merrill said the shoreside power could ease the tensions.
“It definitely should take away one concern that is expressed, and what we want to do is find a solution,” he said. “We see the ports authority’s position of requiring shore power on every ship puts them at an economical disadvantage, and it doesn’t work on all ships, but for those that have it, this gives them the option.”
The SPA applauded the efforts by Merrill and Stavrinakis on Friday, but it stopped short of fully endorsing shoreside power for cruise ships.
“While we understand that shoreside power has been the focus of conversations to date, the industry is also pursuing other more modern technologies that provide equal or greater benefits,” the maritime agency said in a statement. “We anticipate utilizing the industry’s most modern and efficient technologies at the new passenger terminal at Union Pier and applying these proposed funds, if appropriated, to implement these practices.”
Environmentalists and neighborhood groups have complained about pollution in the historic district coming from cruise ships idling their engines at Union Pier. Most complaints target the Carnival Fantasy, which is based in Charleston year round.
On Friday, the groups said they support what the lawmakers are proposing.
“We commend this effort for attempting to address the serious health and environmental effects of cruise ship diesel soot, and hope efforts are made to explore the other means of reducing cruise impacts on the historic peninsula,” said Carrie Agnew, executive director of the Charleston Communities for Cruise Control. “We have always and continue to support shore power at the new terminal, wherever it is ultimately built.”
Dana Beach, executive director of the Coastal Conservation League, said it would be “a huge step forward.”
“We have said consistently that shore-side power is the only way we can completely protect the health of residents from the emissions from cruise ships,” Beach said Friday.
Last year, his Charleston-based group released a study that concluded hooking a cruise ship to shoreside power source would cut toxic emissions by 19 percent to 90 percent, depending on the type of fuel the vessel burns.
The SPA took a close look at shoreside power while planning a new $35 million cruise terminal it wants to open at Union Pier. It concluded it was too costly.
In 2011, the SPA estimated it would have invest $5.6 million to provide shoreside power,. Carnival Cruise Lines would have to spend about another $1.5 million to retrofit the Fantasy, the cruise ship that calls on Charleston most often.
The SPA wants to redevelop a warehouse at the north end of Union Pier to replace its current cruise terminal at the south end of the terminal. The new building could handle larger ships and more passengers.
Lawsuits have stalled those plans.
In addition to shoreside power, groups like Charleston Communities for Cruise Control and the Coastal Conservation League have argued for limits on ship visits and passengers.
Attorneys argue in front of S.C. Supreme Court over harm cruise ships would cause Charleston
By Schuyler Kropf
COLUMBIA — Allowing a lawsuit that challenges Charleston’s cruise ship visits over zoning issues to stand could damage global commerce if taken to the extreme, a lawyer argued this morning before the South Carolina Supreme Court.
Attorney Marvin Infinger said the lawsuit filed by preservationists and neighborhood groups could essentially be applied to all commercial shipping that calls on Charleston.
“The suit, if allowed to stand, would do violence to the ocean-going commerce of this nation,” he said.
Additionally, lawyers argued the plaintiffs looking to challenge the cruise ship visits are not uniquely affected by the traffic and congestion the ships have brought.
City attorney Frances Cantwell said, “The harm is no different in kind than what we all suffer.”
Attorney J. Blanding Holman IV, who represents the plaintiffs, said the suit should go forward because of the systematic harm the ships are bringing to a closed, confined and historic part of Charleston.
Shoreside power to the cruise ships!
That variation on “Power to the people!” won’t generate a rallying cry for Charlestonians demanding that cruise ships use shoreside power when docked here.
But that contentious issue is still sparking hard feelings.
As plugged-in colleague Bo Petersen reported on our front page Wednesday, getting electricity to a cruise ship that “switches off its engine in port to keep from burning polluting fuel” requires an “outlet that zings enough juice to light up several thousand homes.”
However, the venerable Carnival Fantasy, which home-ports at the State Ports Authority’s cruise terminal on the south end of Union Pier, isn’t equipped for shoreside power.
Our story also reported that what “started this whole mess and continues to drive it is toxic black exhaust from the cruise ship smokestacks at dock as the engines provide the ship’s electric power.”
And that powers much of the opposition to the proposed new $35 million SPA terminal at the north end of Union Pier.
Charleston Mayor Joe Riley is on board with SPA President/CEO Jim Newsome for that plan, which includes an extensive — and expensive — waterfront redevelopment beyond the new terminal. Both men stress that you can’t have one (that grand redevelopment) without the other (that swell new terminal).
The Coastal Conservation League and Preservation Society of Charleston are among the groups challenging the terminal construction permit in court.
Some folks see the new terminal and its accompanying redevelopment as needed economic-engine boosters in what is, after all, our Port City.
Some folks question why the city gives cruise ships a virtually free regulatory ride — and why those massive motors should keep belching unhealthy emissions while those vessels are docked.
Some dignified downtown folks are aghast at the unseemly spectacle of cruise passengers clad in T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops roaming freely about our Holy City.
Enough about that divisive power debate for now.
What powers cruisers our way in the first place?
From Carnival’s web site:
“Give in to the genteel feel of the old South on Carnival cruises from Charleston, South Carolina. This is a gracious city of antebellum homes and sprawling plantations, best appreciated from the comfort of a horse-drawn carriage. The city’s unique Low country cuisine and dozens of delicious restaurants make it a southern foodie destination.”
Gee, and we genteel types lucky enough to live in these parts can do all of that without packing ourselves like sardines with strangers on a big boat (actually, a ship).
Most of us who live here even know that Lowcountry is one word.
Anyway, regardless of your present location or desired destination, why risk the ordeals endured by far too many cruisers?
Three months ago, Carnival figuratively threw co-founder Micky Arison overboard from his 35-year job as CEO.
From an Associated Press dispatch: “Arison came under fire during Carnival’s bad publicity earlier in the year when a string of its cruise ships suffered through mechanical problems and fires. The most dramatic of them was the Carnival Triumph where passengers were stranded at sea for five days as toilets backed up and air conditioners failed. There were media reports of raw sewage seeping through walls and carpets.”
We non-cruisers drew fresh validation from those gruesome plumbing details.
Fortunately, though, you can vicariously savor high-seas romance without smelling any broken-down cruise-ship stench.
Just watch vintage reruns of “The Love Boat” online.
Exciting and new
That 1977-87 ABC diversion features a future U.S. House member (Iowa Republican Fred Grandy as ship’s purser Burl “Gopher” Smith) and guest-star rosters of show-biz has-beens (including future California Republican House member Sonny Bono as a rock singer who falls in love with a deaf woman).
Despite a generally breezy tone, the series’ subtle subtexts frequently explore expanding social consciousness.
A DVD synopsis of my favorite episode, from 1978:
“A beauty contest on board ship divides a couple (Maureen McCormick, Bobby Sherman). A reporter (Vicki Lawrence) falls for a disgraced congressman (Dick Van Patten).”
They don’t make TV shows like that anymore.
But they do still make disgraced congressmen.
And they make cruise ships that can use shoreside power.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
A photo from a visitor who was enjoying the panoramic pristine views of the Holy City at The Vendue Inn’s Roof Top Bar. Not sure which is more fetching… the smog or the larger-than-life red “whale tail” of a smokestack out of which it’s pouring…
(photo credit: Allison Hornberger)
CHARLESTON, S.C. — A federal judge wants to hear attorneys argue why a challenge to a $35 million South Carolina cruise terminal should be settled without a trial.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel has scheduled arguments for Sept. 12 in the ongoing dispute over a federal permit for the terminal proposed for the Charleston waterfront.
The pilings are needed to transform an old warehouse into a new cruise terminal for the city’s expanded cruise industry.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs said in court documents that allowing the warehouse to be used for a cruise terminal is a different and more extensive use than permitted in the past so. They said that means more review is needed under the law. They want the judge to void the permit and block the Corps from allowing any construction without more extensive studies.
Attorneys for the Corps have said the permit is not for a terminal, but only for installing five clusters of pilings beneath a structure that already is permitted for maritime uses.
Both sides have asked Gergel to rule in their favor without trial.
The judge has asked attorneys for both sides to come to next month’s hearing prepared to discuss the issues that would be taken up later if he rules a full trial is needed. A November court date has tentatively been set if the case goes to trial.
The case is one of three legal challenges to the terminal and the city’s expanded cruise industry.
A case before the state Supreme Court contends the cruises are a public nuisance and violate city zoning ordinances. Preservation and environmental groups have sued Carnival Cruise Lines seeking to block cruise operations and have the court declare it illegal to build the terminal.
The third case challenges a state permit issued for the pilings. That goes before a state administrative law judge early next year.
Three years ago, Carnival Cruise Lines permanently based its 2,056-passenger liner Fantasy in Charleston, giving the city a year-round cruise industry. Before that, cruise lines made port calls, but no ships were based in the city.
BY BRUCE SMITH Associated Press