CHARLESTON

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Affordable Housing – why it should not be such problem?

Dear Sir,

Our company, LS Group, are developers and builders in town, latterly in mainly the East Side and Elliottborough. I recently attended a conference organized by Historic Charleston and focused on affordable housing. Nothing I heard gave me a positive feeling and general consensus was that it’s “awfully difficult”. This is not the case in part for the reasons explained below and it would help greatly if our leaders changed their mindset.

Charleston City code mandates an affordable element in planning applications. That element is typically 15% and limited to 10 years duration i.e. it’s transient. Many other jurisdictions in this country allow for mitigation or offset instead meaning that the developer pays to have an alternative affordable element created nearby as defined buy the city’s needs. Building affordable housing in high rise condominiums is both expensive and sub-optimum for a population needing neighborhoods, community interaction, space and self determination. Building elsewhere will produce more product at a much faster pace than is currently achieved by City code.

In our circle of contacts is a group of concerned developers similar to ourselves and willing to create beautiful mixed use neighborhoods with a strong, large, permanent affordable element. We have the support of neighborhood committees and local churches and the City of N Charleston. We already own land for hundreds of such homes within a 5 minute drive or 15 minute cycle of Calhoun St downtown. Help us, help our City by helping bring mitigation on to the debating table producing the economic driver to build out this opportunity, we can and will do the rest.

Respectfully yours, Chris Leigh-Jones

Chris       0 Comments            

Just Speak When You Pass Someone

I was walking around Colonial Lake which has become a wonderful gathering place for lots of neighbors, near and far, to walk and enjoy the beautiful lake and plantings. I always speak to anyone I pass as I walk by. I thought about how simple looking someone in the eye and saying “Good Morning” or “Hello” is and yet how meaningful it is. Acknowledging someone walking by means they matter, they are not invisible to me, and they deserve me to speak and look at them. In a time, when we are looking, as individuals, for simple acts that matter and give us some control over kindness and respect, I can’t think of anything more powerful than just speaking to another person we pass. Everyone can do it, it doesn’t cost a penny and usually you are rewarded with a response back.

susan       0 Comments            

if i were mayor

if i were mayor i would make to town a better place to live by making a safe place for kids to play

cheyann       1 Comments            

Making parks, sidewalks, and roads better

The parks are always full of trash, the side walks have worn of paint and the roads aren’t always freshly paved after like the first 3 months of when they where fixing the roads
This will really help the enviroment so that we will have a clean and fresh environment.

Lucy       0 Comments            

Clean up after your pet

NYC and other cities issue citations if you fail to clean up after your pet; Charleston needs to consider doing the same. In some upper peninsular areas no area of grass is safe to step on and areas like Simonton park have become a virtual pet toilet with little to no grass surviving (despite provided waste bags and trash cans). Please clean up after your pet!

Elise       0 Comments            

Pooling Ride Shares

Occasionally the best things in life are free and so it is with ride-hailing. Uber Pool and Lyft Line are ushering in a major change in transportation which, among other desirable outcomes, will be a game changer for public transportation. Users are right now, today enjoying reduced time, cost and stress with increased productivity. A UC Berkley study found that for every one ride hailing vehicle on the road there are between 9 and 13 fewer cars. Best of all this costs government nothing. So, my idea is that our county and city governments should encourage these services with enabling legislation as well as consider startup subsidies if necessary and a campaign to acquaint residents with the benefits. I’ve never been a fan of mass transportation projects.  they’re capital intensive and you don’t know if they’re worthwhile until the money is spent and you can count the riders. Uber and Lyft ride sharing is free AND users -reduce greenhouse emission -save money -can go from two to one car family -improve the commuting experience by reading or doing work instead of driving -reduce traffic

Mayor       0 Comments            

Aerial Gondola as Mass Transit Idea

Charleston area traffic is getting worse every day. This area badly needs mass transportation. Since we are at sea level, subways will not work. For myriad reasons, the bus system is so limited that it is not effective. A monorail was studied years ago, but never got off the ground. I have read hat the cost of building an aerial gondola comes in at between $3 million and $12 million per mile, versus $36 million per mile for light rail systems. For one example, I think the distance between the airport and downtown Charleston s about 12 miles. An aerial gondola might entice some tourists not to bring cars downtown. The route could be broken up by stops near the affordable neighborhoods surrounding Park Circle (about 9 miles from downtown and about 5 miles from the airport). We need ways to get to the beaches without clogging the streets with cars. It is about 12 miles from downtown to Folly Beach by car, but less “as the crow flies.” Check out TheGondolaProject.com to read about cities all over the world that have built aerial gondolas.

Melinda       0 Comments            

Street/ambassadors Guides

Let’s train a lot of the jobless to be street guides like in Washington DC and other popular tourist spots. Everytime I take a walk downtown there are people gazing about dazed by the little streets and lack of signage. We could have wandering ambassadors helping them out and able to point visitors in the right direction. Even smaller SC towns have better signage ie Aiken comes to mind.

Mary       0 Comments            

Bridge recycling

Safe crossing of water bodies is often a stumbling block for trail planners. SC DOT is getting an infusion of cash in the next budget, and is to spend a bunch on repairing and replacing bridges in upcoming years. Biking and hiking trail organizations need to organize to claim key old bridges in the state that are being abandoned. We lost out on the old Folly Creek and Folly River bridges—both were demolished. My suggestion that they be kept for bikes and pedestrians was treated with amusement by officials. They could have dovetailed with the marsh-crossing-boardwalk suggested by the Rethink Folly Road consultants. No one wanted the liability of taking these bridges. Yet throughout Europe tourists flock to hike, bike, and shop on old bridges like Charles Bridge (Prague), Iron Bridge (Shropshire), and many Roman bridges.

Lawrence       0 Comments            

ASHLEY BICYCLE CROSSING – more ideas

Another alternative: Acquire an old bridge, often free.
Use one lane for bikes and pedestrians. Allow entrepreneurs to set up in the other lane (west-side market🍷); charge them rent to defray bridge maintenance.

Another alternative: Build a new light-duty bridge for bikes and pedestrians. In our state, Greenville demolished a 6-lane highway bridge over the Reedy River and replaced it with a modern light-duty suspension bridge for pedestrians to view the falls.
A boon for tourism! In order to clear the Ashley channel, a bike suspension bridge could be steeper than a vehicular bridge.

Lawrence       1 Comments            

Ashley bicycle crossing

Having given up bicycle riding at 77 and almost never driving over the US 17 bridges, I don’t have a dog in that fight. I do strongly agree that a safe bike crossing of the Ashley is a top priority. I did make a suggestion for a less costly bicycle crossing of the Ashley in a letter to the Post & Courier published on 5 Oct 2015. I was told that ferrying across the channel is too unconventional. However, it seems unreasonable to me to take a bridge lane built to accommodate oversized loads and 18-wheelers and convert it at great expense to use for light loads like bicycles and pedestrians. Boardwalk construction for light duty use like walking and biking would be far less expensive. Consider elevating the boardwalk enough near the channel to accommodate passage of small boats, and have a floating section in the channel that could be hauled aside (infrequently) whenever the two Ashley River US 17 bridges are being opened for large boats. Sunset Beach used to be accessed by a one-lane floating bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway (tidal); it was towed to the side for yachts and barges to pass. And Fripp Island has a boardwalk/bikeway across marsh, with an elevated section over a creek; Hunting Island also. Methinks not enough thought has been given to alternatives for the Ashley crossing. It would be far safer for bikers if the crossing were tied to the West Ashley Greenway, not US 17. Or further up the Ashley, the West Ashley Bikeway could be connected to Grove Street by a boardwalk with an elevated section for small boats or a floating swing section for larger boats.

Lawrence       0 Comments            

Future of IYWM?

Make “If You Were Mayor” permanent and link to Office of the Mayor as of public connection with government.

Thomas       0 Comments            

Develop LED guidelines for street lights

LED streetlights can save a lot of money for cities, but they can also disrupt sleep patterns for nearby residents. All LEDs are not created equal. Some cities are setting guidelines that require the warmer spectrum lights. Berlin and Davis, CA have worked with citizens to design a more pleasing night time landscape. Charleston needs to address this issue now as some streets (Kirkland Lane, for example) already look like prison yards or strip mall parking lots.

Melinda       3 Comments            

Move College of Charleston’s main campus to upper peninsula

Leave a small, core portion of the College of Charleston downtown and move the rest of the campus further north, even all the way to the (former) Magnolia site. This would alleviate the bulk of the traffic and parking issues downtown, it would free up run-down and poorly maintained student apartments and put them in the hands of local residents, as affordable housing and who would be more likely to take care of them. I believe it would also encourage more locals from surrounding areas to come eat and drink downtown, who now stay away because of the crowded student scene. The College could continue to grow, if it wanted, without ruining what makes Charleston so charming, as it has already begun to do so.

Mag       0 Comments            

Make property taxes easier to pay

Set up the system so citizens can pay their taxes monthly, quarterly or intermittently. People should be able to pay when they can instead of right around Christmas. There are way too many properties that end up with tax liens on them.

Gregg       0 Comments            

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SEEKING IDEAS, INITIATIVES AND PROJECTS TO IMPROVE OUR CITY...

Transportation

Put your idea, initiative or project here if it has to do with such things as:

  • Modes of transportation – cars, bikes, buses, subway, feet, trams, trolleys, Segway, trains, boats, ferries, skateboards, scooter, trucks, vans, balloon, gondola, chair lift, airplanes, drones, wheelchair, golf cart, taxi, pedi-cab, horse, carriage, etc.
  • Transportation infrastructure – bridges, causeways, roads, paths, bike lanes, sidewalks, docks, piers, rails, streets, lanes, passageway, galleria, tunnel.
  • Transportation nodes/stations – airport, ferry landing, bus stop, bike corral, parking garage, bike garage, street parking space, parking lot
  • Exercise related to biking & pedestrian activities

 

Local civic-minded organizations advocating for transportation-related issues include:

CharlestonMoves CCL

Education

Put your idea, initiative or project here if it has to do with such things as:

  • Mentorship programs – reading, writing, crafts, cooking, storytelling, volunteer opportunities.
  • Job training – apprenticeship, job shadowing, internship opportunities.
  • Skills for public spaces – speakers corner, spelling bee, science fair.
  • Businesses in schools programs – finance, coding, innovation/invention, health fair, robotics, agriculture, cooking/hospitality, entrepreneurship.
  • Incentive programs that relate to grades, school attendance or graduation.
  • Middle/high school youth programs, government simulation – Model UN, debate, mock trial, participatory budgeting, leadership training.
  • Elementary/Middle/High School, education assistance programs – study groups, reading tutoring.
  • Sports/recreation programs – basketball, squash, little league baseball, soccer.
  • Public elementary & secondary educational activities and field trip opportunities in public places, including visits by/to public officials.
  • Preschool options.
  • Living history events.
  • Special needs – Special Olympics, HeartSC, sports training.
  • STEM training using community facilities and programs, such as sailing.
  • In-school medical and dental care.

 

Local civic-minded organizations advocating for education-related issues include:

MeetingStreetAcademy    WingsForKidsMetanoiaLogo

Economic Development

Put your idea, initiative or project here if it has to do with such things as:

  • Development and overlay zones – job cluster zones, tax-increment financed (TIF).
  • Public funded facilities.
  • Superfund/contaminated/brownfield site cleanup/reuse.
  • Regulatory or tax incentives.
  • Low interest loans & seed funding.
  • Mobile/sidewalk business options – food truck, shoeshine stand, knife sharpening, artist kiosk, lemonade stand, other services.
  • Entrepreneurship/business startup incentives.
  • Alternative energy incentives.
  • Sustainable land use incentives.
  • Civic identity & branding.
  • Local business support programs and incentives.
  • Co-working and shared facility incentives and allowances.

 

Local civic-minded organizations advocating for economic development-related issues include:

CCLLowcountryLocalFirstMetanoiaLogoSouthCarolinaCommunityLoanFund

Arts & Culture

Put your idea, initiative or project here if it has to do with such things as:

  • Competitions for infrastructure components – bridges, paving, bike racks, etc.
  • Arts and entertainment venues – outdoor, indoor, temporary, adaptive.
  • Festivals & events – Music, literary, performance, cultural/historical, street/neighborhood, seasonal, spontaneous.
  • Public art – permanent, site-specific, commemorative.
  • Historic markers or events.
  • Way finding & environmental graphics/signage.
  • Civic identity.
  • Museums.

 

Local civic-minded organizations advocating for arts and culture-related issues include:HICA_logo  ReduxLogo  HistoricCharlestonFoundation

EnoughPieOHMradio

alliance-logo.png

Neighborhoods, Parks & Housing

Put your idea, initiative or project here if it has to do with such things as:

  • Recreation and exercise facilities.
  • Neighborhood gathering places – pocket parks.
  • Affordable housing – Incentives, loan programs, scattered site, micro-housing units.
  • Public health – neighborhood health events, walking and bicycle infrastructure.
  • Neighborhood identity – signage, art, tree planting and streetscaping.
  • Public safety – connectivity for seniors and younger residents.
  • Neighborhood policing – know your officer events.
  • Pop-up parks – Temporary use of streets for occasional neighborhood events.
  • Public resources for neighborhood designated use.
  • Neighborhood festivals and events.
  • Food outlets – corner stores located to serve neighborhoods and vicinity.
  • Community facilities – health clinics.
  • Sidewalk installation and improvements to suit children and aging populations.
  • Community outreach.

 

Local civic-minded organizations advocating for neighborhoods, parks and housing-related issues include:

SouthCarolinaCommunityLoanFundCharleston_Parks_Conservancy_LogoMetanoiaLogoHistoricCharlestonFoundationEnoughPieCCL

FROM THE BLOG FULL BLOG

Main Street’s Social Capital

Mar 6, 2017 by Whitney Powers

The Journalists Resource at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (here) puts 1962 as year zero in the history of big-box stores. In the five decades since, the landscape of retail has changed significantly. Hundreds of small towns and larger cities have seen main streets suffer and tax revenues fall to below-subsistence levels. The research noted that fourteen retail establishments close, on average, within 15 months of the opening of a Wal-Mart. Even while many cities court big-box and smaller-box retailers in the name of economic development, research indicates that corporate commerce is associated with:

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