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All about cruise ships

Posted on April 18, 2015 by in Jobs & Economy

Economic benefits claimed:


Currently 16 port-of-calls and 53 origination cruises have been booked at the SCSPA for 2010. Based upon the survey results, it is estimated that the passengers on ships that will make Charleston a port-or-call, 66.49% will leave the ship and visit the City which will amount to 11,303 additional tourists.


Of these visitors, one-half will debark on escorted motor coach tours from the ship to tour the region’s attractions while the other one-half will visit the city independently. Passenger spending is estimated to be $5,552,496, while crew members are estimated to spend $2,606,575. Cruise line companies will spend an estimated $14,143,535 in direct spending.

A study done by College of Charleston professors Dr. John Crotts and Dr. Frank Hefner estimates the total economic output at more than $37 million for the Tri-County area. This estimate includes approximately 407 jobs to the area that contribute $16.2 million in salaries and wages and $3.5 million in state sales and income taxes.

Currently 16 port-of-calls and 53 origination cruises have been booked at the SCSPA for 2010. Based upon the survey results, it is estimated that the passengers on ships that will make Charleston a port-or-call, 66.49% will leave the ship and visit the City which will amount to 11,303 additional tourists.

1Of these visitors, one-half will debark on escorted motor coach tours from the ship to tour the region’s attractions while the other one-half will visit the city independently. Passenger spending is estimated to be $5,552,496, while crew members are estimated to spend $2,606,575. Cruise line companies will spend an estimated $14,143,535 in direct spending.


In order to minimize the amount of waste generated, cruise lines have aggressively implemented waste management programs that actually reduce the creation of waste.  In the last 10 years alone, cruise ships have cut waste and garbage almost in half, despite a growth in cruise capacity averaging 7.6% annually.  In addition, according to the EPA, the U.S. population recycles an average of 28% of its waste per year.  Cruise ships are reducing their waste stream and still recycling anywhere from 25-80%, depending on the ship — significantly higher than that of most local communities.  This further reduces the amount of waste that requires disposal.


To address emissions from the cruise ships themselves, in October 2008 the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) agreed to revise and strengthen the emission standards in Annex VI and reduce the amount of sulfur in ship’s fuel. The revised law will enter force in July 2010. The current global limit on sulfur in marine fuels is 4.5 per cent. Under the revised Annex this limit will fall in two stages to 3.5 per cent in 2012, and finally to 0.5 per cent in 2020 subject to a review in 2018. (top of page)

What about shoreside power, or plugging in, the cruise ships while they’re at dock?

Given the current technology, costs and trade-offs, shorepower does not seem to offer an attractive environmental benefit at this time.  However, we will continue to monitor the technology in the future as it improves and develops.

The electric load required to support a cruise ship while at dock is significant.  This electricity has to come from the grid, so the emissions from the associated power plant and available capacity have to be considered.

While two cruise terminals on the West Coast have installed shore side plug-in capabilities for ships, shoreside power is a very new and very costly technology.  It can cost up to $10 million to retrofit a berth and $1-2 million for each ship.

On March 26, the IMO designated a 230-mile area around the U.S. coast as an Emission Control Area (ECA), dramatically reducing ship-related emissions and eliminating the need to consider shore power. The EPA estimates this move reduces sulfur content in fuel by 98% – cuts particulate matter by 85%, and NOx by 80%. The new standards go into effect in 2011, with implementations in 2012 and 2015. (top of page)


Master’s thesis, Columbia U.:


Cruise ship fees and head taxes—Port authorities and managers can charge cruise ships pership

or per-passenger fees that are carefully calculated to offset the cost of port operations,

services, maintenance, and security while not overcharging ships.

Whether court-ordered or not, SPA and Charleston should pause the Union Pier project and onduct and invest in, baseline studies and assessments of the potential impacts on the overall environment, economy, and community, including historic and cultural resources. As public agencies with the decision-making power, they should have a clear understanding of the costs and benefits to all major stakeholders. Towards these goals, SPA and Charleston can work with the community and preservation professionals to establish limits of acceptable change (LAC), develop a clear definition of neighborhood character, and an inventory of potentially impacted tangible and intangible heritage resources. Environmental and heritage impact studies can help with this process. Cruise ships have a potential benefit to port cities, and establishing limits of acceptable change will allow Charleston to benefit from the cruise industry while minimizing and mitigating the detrimental aspects of cruise ship tourism.

In order to establish limits of acceptable change, Charleston should follow the four-part process described in Chapter 2.

Cruise companies or

Port authorities can create or set aside a portion of fee and tax revenue for infrastructure, ommunity, and environment funds. These funds can be used for the preservation and restoration of historic and cultural resources.


Seventy cruise ships come to Charleston annual, bringing 250,000 visitors.

discharge untreated sewage and garbage ground to one inch pieces when they are 3 miles out.

The planned and hotly disputed $25 million Charleston terminal for cruise ships would be located on 72 acres of prime waterfront valued at $532 million and adjacent to historic districts. Nine acres would go for parking.

Carnival’s cruise ships make 88 landings in Charleston annually and bring 200,000 visitors to town.

Cruise ships burn what’s called “bunker fuel,” a highly polluting sludge-like oil that leaves black streaks on structure in the adjoining historic groups, according to Carrie Agnew, executive director of Communities for Cruise Ship Control and a resident of the historic neighborhood of Ansonborough in downtown, not far from where cruise ships dock. The Charles physician group  calls pollution from the ships a health hazard

Where poverty is greatest in metro Charleston

Posted on April 2, 2015 by in Wealth & Poverty

Communities with most poverty, IRS

A vision for the lower peninsula

Posted on December 16, 2014 by in Place

Vision for the lower peninsula, Downtown Plan

Are city’s parking garages ‘dinosaurs’ in new mobility?

Posted on July 24, 2014 by in Mobility

DinosaurDowntown Charleston has 11 parking garages. In one generation, they’ll be dinosaurs, says Gabe Klein, Charleston’s new mobility guru. “Build it now, and you’ll waste your money,” he said at his recent forum here.

Klein, who headed the transportation systems in Washington, DC, and Chicago, before taking on his new assignment, said the millennial generation is not in love with cars. Since 1995, millennials’ share of total vehicle miles driven has declined by 7.7%. This trend also shows up in another key number — new driver’s licenses, which in the 16-to-24-age group are down to their lowest level in decades. Klein’s trend lines are echoed in other recent reports, like this one.

In his well-attended presentation at the Charleston Museum, Klein said the holy grail of transportation for Americans used to be how to get around faster in their car and be safe doing so. Now, he said — with millennials increasingly shaping trends — Americans still want mobility, but by the best means available. That could mean, depending on the circumstances, a bicycle, mass transit or sharing.

But there’s more, Klein says: Americans — and older generations as well as millennials — also connect mobility with health, equity and other quality-of-life goals.

A half hour of driving does nothing positive for your health, while a half-hour bike ride can burn at least 200 calories, tones muscles and increases cardiovascular endurance. The annual cost of owning a medium-size sedan, as Klein pointed out, has risen to $5,771, most of which the biking commuter will save. Annual operating costs for a car driven 10,000 miles are another $2,000.

Another factor in the shrinking emphasis on mobility by car is the new trend in economic development, with businesses — especially high-tech ones — seeking to locate in urban areas where their employees can walk or bike to work. In Charleston, this is beginning to happen in the Upper King Street area, where PeopleMatter has relocated, and other “knowledge”-based firms are doing the same or planning to make the move.

Klein will be spending the summer looking at the mobility in Charleston. In September, he’ll make his recommendations. Will his proposals be built around multi-modal uses that de-emphasize cars and garages?

A telling clue may be who is co-sponsoring his consultancy: The city’s frequent partner, the Historic Charleston Foundation. In the late 1940s and 1950s, the Foundation promoted a massive increase in downtown offstreet parking as essential to the economic future of the area, including the success of heritage tourism. The strategy, which had been initially advanced by HCF’s predecessor in preservation initiatives, the Civic Services Committee of the Carolina Art Association, was adopted by the city and led to the 11 city-run garages of today.

That’s 180 degrees away from what Klein believes about the future of urban mobility. The Foundation knows that, but it’s still paying for what Klein will recommend for the future of mobility on Charleston’s peninsula.

Sea level expert from Charleston: ‘I’m more uneasy but not frightened’

Posted on July 17, 2014 by in Place

Rate of melting of West Antarctic ice sheets at Amundsen Bay, Rignot, May 2014

From West Antarctic to Charleston: Map is color-coded to show rates at which ice shelves are  melting. Red marks fastest rate.

There were big and scary headlines in May when researchers said some glaciers in the West Antarctic were melting at an “unstoppable” rate. Some news reports said the Big Melt could raise sea levels — including those in Charleston — by up to 16 feet over time. But the report itself made no such projections. It said in its conclusion: “We conclude that this sector of West Antarctica [at the bay of the Amundsen Sea] is undergoing a marine ice sheet instability that will significantly contribute to sea level rise in decades to centuries to come.”

The doomsday headlines came from taking the report about one sector of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet — at the Amundsen Sea embayment (image above) — and extending it across all the glaciers of the West Antarctic. But the report made no attempt to analyze and draw conclusions about the stability of the entire West Antarctic Ice Sheet. It was focused on one fraction of thf ice sheet — at the Amundsen Sea embayment..

Local America Charleston went to sea-level expert Gary Mitchum, who grew up in Charleston and is a professor and associate dean in the College of Marine Science at University of South Florida, to get his assessment on what the new report means, especially for Prof. Gary Mitchum, USFCharleston.

You’ve taken a close look at the report. If the glaciers at the Amundsen Sea embayment are melting at an “unstoppable” rate, what will they add to seal levels?

The glaciers are capable of adding  four feet to sea levels. That’s on top of currently melting ice in Greenland and the East Antarctic, which will add 2 to 3 feet to sea levels by 2100.

When would the new melt from the West Antarctic start to have an impact on sea levels?

It would start kicking in over a couple hundred years.

Can man do anything to avoid coastal areas being swamped by sea levels rising up to 7 feet (your outside estimate)?

We can flatten the curve through aggressive programs to mitigate the effects of manmade climate change — reducing carbon emissions, changing human behavior.

What would that mean in the most hopeful scenario?

If we flatten the curve, we can probably expect a couple of feet rise in sea level above the current level over a thousand years. The level will rise, but more slowly.

How do you feel about that prospect?

I’m more uneasy, but not frightened.

The focus has been on rising sea levels. What else can we expect from climate change — here in Charleston as elsewhere?

The intensity of storms will increase. There will be more severe winters — a whole range of adverse climate conditions.


Charleston named to five ‘Beeriest Beach Towns’

Posted on July 4, 2014 by in Food

Charleston a 'Beeriest Beach Town,' July 2014Charleston has a new “best” — one it can, literally, drink to. It’s been named one of the five “Beeriest Beach Towns.”

The honor was bestowed by Craft Beer, which is administered by the Craft Beer Association, which represents 2,000 craft brewers and 43,000 home brewers, and, among other things, lobbies for less-restrictive state and local laws that will benefit the growing craft-beer industry as it tries to reach discriminating beer fanciers.

Among the many local temples to craft beer are the Charleston Beer Exchange, a downtown bottle shop with more than 900 brands,Bay Street Biergarten Edmund’s Oast ,farther uptown, which has been named one of the Best New Beer Restaurants, Westbrook Brewing Co. in Mt. Pleasant, which has been named one of the top 100 craft brewers in the world, and recently opened Bay Street Biergarten, where you can draw your own.

Craft brewing is so big in Charleston it has its own association, CHS Beer, whose members include 14 retail stores, eight brewers and 27 pubs and restaurants.

While craft beers account for only $14.3 billion of the overall $100 billion U.S. beer market, they’re growing at a 20% clip.



Charleston Is ‘Best City’ in U.S., No. 2 in ‘Best in World’

Posted on July 3, 2014 by in Place

Best Cities in U.S, Travel & Leisure, 2014Charleston is “Best City” in U.S. and Canada for the fourth straight year in Travel & Leisure’s readers’ contest, and moved up to second place in the magazine’s “World’s Best Cities.”

Charleston and New Orleans were the only American cities in the “World’s Best.” No. 1 was Kyoto, Japan, which was 3/100th points ahead of Charleston.

Readers used a five-point scale of excellent, above average, average, below average and poor to rate cities based on sights to see, restaurants, hotel facilities and a number of other categories mostly built around travel, like airports and car rentals.

Charleston new mobility guru on how fixes can be path to better health, more jobs

Posted on July 2, 2014 by in Mobility

Gabe Klein on the job in Chicago, 2011Gabe Klein (image above), who has been called the guru of mobility for the 21st century, is coming to Charleston starting next week to help fix the city’s worsening transportation mess.

Klein, who is senior visiting fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC, formerly  headed up transportation in two of the most traffic-congested cities in the U.S. — Washington, DC, and Chicago. He says transportation is not just a way to get from one point to another, but also the path to better health (through walking and biking) and to more “knowledge” jobs (when high-tech companies choose convenient, close-in locations that promote non-driving commutes).

Local America put these questions to Klein as he prepares for his visit to Charleston — his first:

To make more mobility, where do you start?

Gabe Klein on stripingWe have to move away from our silo mentality where we say, “I’m a pedestrian, you drive, he bikes.” Everybody walks some of the time, most of us drive and more of us are biking and using transit. We need solutions that benefit mobility everywhere.

You’re big on biking and do a lot of it yourself. Just how big is it?

We’ve seen an explosion of biking around the country. We spend $82 billion on bike-related activities. That’s more than we spend on airline tickets. Biking is the fifth biggest recreation.

A lot of peninsular Charleston’s congestion is due to the area’s 5 million annual tourists. Their median age is 50. How are you going to convince them to leave their SUVs at the hotel and see the city by bike?

Don’t be too quick to draw conclusions. There’s been a 320% increase in biking by people over 50. Baby boomers are very health-conscious, and they see biking as good for their health.

You see a close relationship between transportation and health for all people. How does that happen?

Transportation is not just moving from one point to another. People are starting to see it as a way to better health. Health now is not just eating greens and exercising. It’s lifestyle. It’s walking, taking transit and living close enough to work so you can walk.

Where do young people fit into mobility solutions?

They don’t think in silos. They care about what’s the fastest, cheapest, healthiest way. They’re not predisposed to being for or against anything.

You ran Chicago’s Department of Transportation under Mayor Rahm Emanuel from 2011 to 2013. What were some of your major achievements?

It wasn’t primarily about moving people from one point to another — it was about jobs, about creating an environment that would drawChicago 'All-Way' pedestrian crossings, 2014 technology companies. It was about safety — automated speed enforcement, a 20-mph design speed for residential streets, barrier-protected bike lanes, Chicago’s first “All-Way” pedestrian crossings (see image from video at right). There’s much more, and it’s all in the update on the Chicago Department of Transportation website.

One of your big projects in Washington, DC, when you headed up the city Department of Transportation under then-Mayor Adrian Fenty  (2008-2010) was making over the parking system. What happened there?

We went from having the worst parking system to the best. We introduced pay-by-phone metered parking, which produced a 40% increase in revenue. This was one of about 20 major initiatives.

Peninsular Charleston has narrow streets. You can’t widen them. Where does that leave you in improving mobility?

The trend on narrow streets is to calm traffic so everyone can share the space. A 30-mph speed limit may be too fast. A more appropriate limit may be 12 to 17 mph.

You can achieve a lot through design. In Chicago, we put streets on a “road diet” through striping for multiple uses. In general what you want to do is segregate drivers, bikers, buses.

Urban transportation planning has been mired in old solutions. How do you make innovation work, and on a metro-wide scale?

You start in the most dense parts of the city — where there’s the most pain. That’s where you have the most opportunities because people want change there. When people in the suburban parts of town see what’s been done, they say, “There’s no reason we can’t do that [bike lanes, for example] here.”

Some Charleston residents are calling for more variable message signs (VMS) to alert them to events and other activities that are likely to tie up traffic to where they’re headed. Should there be more signs?

WAZE traffic alertInformation is absolutely key for people. VMS may be necessary in some circumstances. But Google’s new Waze app for smartphones (image at left) can be useful where VMS doesn’t exist.

Will what works in Chicago and Washington work in Charleston?

If it works in one place, it should be able to work in another, if it’s adapted to the new context. I think we should also look at solutions in other places, around the world, like the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy.

There’s always a solution. But implementing it is something the community has to do.


Klein to speak at mobility session here on Wednesday, June 9

Gabe Klein, who begins his transportation consultancy to the city next week, will speak at a mobility presentation next Wednesday, June 9, at 6 p.m. in the Charleston Museum Auditorium.

The presentation is co-sponsored by the City of Charleston and Historic Charleston Foundation.










Charleston ‘Reckless’ TV drama opens with she-likes-it rape scene

Posted on June 28, 2014 by in Place

'Reckless.' Charleston police officer prepares to rape women he stopped on Ravenel Bridge. Premiere, 06.29.14The new CBS legal drama “Reckless,” which is set in Charleston, premiered Sunday night with the provocative proposition that maybe women can enjoy be raped if they’re sexually cool and get into the violence.

In the opening scene, after a stunning nighttime shot of the Ravenel Bridge, a Charleston police officer pulls over a woman driver for speeding. He takes her underneath the bridge and tells her to put her hands up on the chain-link fence. After handcuffing her, he begins a body search (illegal because there’s no suspicion the driver has a weapon) that turns into a grope, that becomes a clear-cut sexual assault…except the woman’s apprehensive face is suddenly transformed into a consensual smile. “I like the posterior,” she says.

'Reckless' scene from City Hall, June 29, 2014“Reckless” was made will the cooperation of the Charleston city government — some scenes are set in the City Council chamber in front of the full-length portrait of George Washington on his 1791 visit to the city. But it’s abundantly clear the show is not bound by any restrictive rules similar to the ones in the new Entertainment District that the City Council is in the process of adopting.

The premiere’s script with the rape-turned-into-consensual-sex scene was written by “Reckless” creator-executive producer Dana Stevens. “Honestly, I think it gets pretty sexy,” Stevens tells Zap2it  about the new show she’s running. “CBS told us, ‘We want you to push the envelope. We want you to do a sexy show.’ We would turn in episodes and think, ‘Oh, they’re never going to let us do this,’ but they did let us do it.”

Rape is becoming an almost obligatory trope in TV drama. “Game of Thrones” has a rap sheet of rapes. But Stevens decided to give her rape scene a twist by having the victim starting to like the violence not long after the cuffs snap on her outstretched arms.

'Reckless.' Jamie and Roy in front of courthouse, July 2014Stevens and CBS don’t appear to be too concerned about Charleston’s image, which the city promotes with the slogan “where history lives.” “Dark secrets simmer behind every door and threaten to tarnish the genteel façade of seductive Charleston,” CBS publicity says. It’s the place where the principal characters — the female defense attorney and her male courtroom rival, the assistant district attorney — go knee to knee on the front steps of the courthouse in the middle of the afternoon — an apparent homage to the nighttime kissy-poo of John Jenrette in 1981, when he was a congressman representing part of Charleston, and his then-new wife Rita (who has since remarried) on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Charleston. (Rita Jenrette denied earlier, published gossip that she and her husband had sex among the columns of the Capitol Portico.)

“Prepare to be seduced,” says CBS about the show, which right now is built around sex scandal in the Charleston Police Department involving group sex on top of a patrol car that was videotaped.

As the actor who plays the defense attorney says, “We’re showing the other side of the South, the side that’s not as genteel.”

But it’s only a TV show. Like “Dallas.”


Charleston’s 5 million tourists are 1% black

Posted on June 24, 2014 by in Heritage

Tourist carriageThe city’s two recent tourism management forums aired numerous concerns by residents that lax enforcement of regulations combined with swelling numbers of visitors have produced a dangerous “tipping point.” But two nights of testimony didn’t produce one comment about the racial imbalance of visitors — 98% white and only 1% black.

Unexplained at the forums was why Charleston’s tourist industry is so completely built around white visitors. Most tourists come from areas of the country with large black populations — the metro regions of Washington, DC, New York City and Chicago as well as Charlotte, Greenville, Cleveland, Raleigh, Richmond and Baltimore.

A survey of tourists by the College of Charleston’s Tourist Research Analysis Office found that history is the chief reason cited by tourists for why they chose Charleston as their destination. “Heritage tours” — principally in the horse-drawn carriage trips through the Old and Historic District — are rich in history. But most of the history is built around the homes and lives of the white aristocracy of  Charleston’s “golden age” from 1720 to 1820. Submerged in the narrative is how the golden age was maintained — through a comprehensive system of bondage in which blacks were sold, bought, “gifted” from master and mistress to son and daughter and keptTag slaves in Charleston were required to wear under rigid control. The 58-clause state Slave Act managed every moment of behavior, including the requirement that slaves wear an identification pin (image at right) when they went outside.

How slavery exempted owners from the simplest acts of physical labor, such as opening a french door to admit a breeze from the verandah, is detailed in books on local library shelves but seldom woven in the tour spiels. One such account is from the 1912 book “Charleston: The Place and the People,” by Harriott Horry (Rutledge) Ravenel, a descendant of the Pinckneys who was born in 1832 and whose surnames illustrate the intermarriage among the aristocracy. The book describes how many slaves were required by the “average Charleston household of the wealthy class,” which included a good number of households in the lower peninsula:

“[It] usually had a housekeeper, and her assistant, a mauma, and as many nursery maids as there were children in the house. Each lady had her maid….If the cook was a woman, she had a girl in training and a boy scullion to help her; and there were as many laundresses as the size of the family required. There was a butler and one or more footmen. A gentleman usually had a body servant, and the coachman had under him as many grooms and stable boys as the horses kept demanded.”

The Old Slave Mart Museum on Chalmers Street — owned by the city — tells the story of Charleston’s predominant role in the slave trade. But while the museum occupies the surviving core structure of the original slave auction market maintained by Thomas Ryan, who was a city alderman and onetime sheriff, the exhibits consist primarily of posters whose glossiness clashes with the straightforward messages about how families could be broken up when members were sold to different and distant buyers.

The museum draws only about 1% of the 5 million visitors who come to Charleston annually, and it is bypassed by many of the guided carriage tours. It is not one of the “nine amazing sites” featured on the website of the Charleston Heritage Federation, a partnership of museums and preservation groups whose mission is “educate the public concerning preservation and interpretation of historic places and museums.”

The Old Slave Mart Museum was praised by New York Times critic Edward Rothstein as a place “where narrative history is adroitly and soberly told” in a 2011 article, but one visitor to the museum, echoing some others, said this on Google:

“We were excited about our first visit to Charleston and the opportunity to learn about the history of the state. So of course one of our first stops was the Old Slave Mart Museum. After paying a $14 admission fee ( for 2 adults), we walked thru the most lack luster museum. Slavery was a very important part of Charleston history, but you would have never known from touring this museum. It took us all of 20 min to see the museum and we read, yes read everything they had. There is no tour guide to talk to you or answer questions. You just read the placards they have about slavery. Come on Charleston! Get it together! Slavery is a very important part of your history that can not be denied….own up to it and give us an honest, informative museum about it!”

‘Historic Overview’ passes over slavery

Slavery gets no mention in the 1,300-word “Historic Overview” of the press kit of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.