The mayor has introduced an “Cruise Ship” ordinance that is nothing more than a ruse, a trick to deceive the public into believing that the City is proposing regulations on the $30 billion-a-year cruise ship tourism industry when it isn’t. The mayor is introducing an ordinance that merely mandates a mishmash of meaningless meetings.
These proposed year-long series of meetings are not binding, will lead to no conclusion, have no provisions for voting, have no provisions for binding arbitration, and do nothing to prevent the State Ports Authority from doing whatever it wants.
This worthless, deceptive ordinance to be discussed tonight should be withdrawn. The City Council should wait until the Historic Charleston Foundation survey is released, and then based on the information, impose necessary, meaningful and binding restrictions on the cruise ship tourism industry.
Sadly, Mayor Riley simply wants to give the appearance that the City is doing something to address the increasing opposition to unbridled, unregulated, uncontrolled cruise ship visits. But this ordinance, posted below (1), regulates nothing. The State Ports Authority agrees that this ordinance is worthless! The SPA is vehement about opposing any restrictions on “its business,” yet it doesn’t oppose this ordinance. The problem with passing today’s proposed ordinance–it will give the unwary the impression that the City is doing something about unregulated cruise ship visits, size of ships, pollution from ships, etc.– when it’s doing nothing of the sort.
This is irresponsible government at its worst.
There is one silver lining. The City has long maintained that it DOES NOT have the POWER to regulate cruise ships or tourists coming from those cruise ships. But now, by introducing an ordinance that purportedly regulates cruise ships, it has exposed that fiction. The City can and must regulate, but this hollow ordinance must be withdrawn or defeated.
This week’s Charleston News Alternative cruise ship article parallels our last blog, concluding “It seems that the critics of Charleston’s cruise ship plans suffer one objection after the other. Just when they think the City and SPA have gone far enough, here comes another offensive measure.” “Offensive” is an understatement.
Then Steve Gates takes on the thankless task of explaining why the lawsuit filed against Carnival Cruise Lines on behalf of various neighborhood associations, civic and environmental organizations was necessary. Of course, it was necessary and still is. Read his letter, “Not Demons,” in today’s Post and Courier through to the last sentences: “It is unthinkable that the city is powerless to impose regulations on a large industry setting up a base of operations in the middle of town. Charleston has carefully managed tourism in the past and should want to have authority over cruise tourism. Rather than engage in overblown rhetoric or empty ordinances such as the one proposed for City Council’s consideration today, the merits of the lawsuit should be addressed and resolved civilly.” Exactly.
And then there’s Katherine (Kitty) Robinson’s op-ed in Sunday’s paper, wherein she carefully lays out useful regulations on cruise ship tourism. The City Council would be advised to read this, but probably hasn’t; in fact, of course, this is the kind of ordinance that it should be voting on, but isn’t. Were I to object to Ms. Robinson’s article, I would only to the extent that the SPA should be forced–as part of its fiduciary responsibility–to carefully research other sites, such as Columbus Street, Patriot’s Point and North Charleston, for a cruise ship terminal. There is no evidence that cruise ship terminals co-exist well with historic neighborhoods, yet there is a ton of evidence that cruise terminals are damaging to historic areas worldwide. And there is also evidence that the state and the city would do better financially if the terminal were moved from Union Pier, and that more jobs would be created if it were moved.
Finally, if you need still more ammunition that the City is on the wrong track with this proposed ordinance, read Sunday’s P&C editorial, “City Council Should Opt for Stronger Cruise Ship Rules.” It calls the ordinance “more sop than substance.” It’s all sop, no substance, in our view.
1) Cruise ship “ordinance”