Many of you may have received a letter today from the Mayor.? For those that have not seen, here is the transcript from the Mayor where he discusses flooding, affordable living, traffic, government and community.
Letter from the Mayor of Charleston, South Carolina
I hope you’re having a good week, but I know that last week’s excessive flooding has caused major inconveniences for too many of our citizens, and real damage to others. I can assure you that flooding and the impact of higher tides, which not only put immediate pressure on storm water systems but also pose a more long-term challenge, are a top priority for me — one that I think about when I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. ?More on this later.
As I hope you know, Sandy and I have in the past two and a half years attended every function, neighborhood association meeting and public event humanly possible, and we will continue on this track. ?(Some of our events in just last week included reading to children at our city’s first continuing Freedom School, attending the 200th anniversary service at Mother Emanuel AME and working with our friends and colleagues at the 2018 SC Municipal Association Conference.) Fortunately this has given me the opportunity to listen and talk with many citizens, but I know given the size of our City, I have not done as well as I would like communicating and sharing with more of you what we know about our special city’s challenges and opportunities.
Accordingly, this is the first of my weekly updates, so you will better understand what your Mayor does, what we accomplish and some of the outstanding challenges and opportunities we are addressing every day.
Extreme Rain Bomb and Flash Flooding in Charleston
I regret that many in the City were affected by the deluge of rain that fell upon us on Friday, and I feel your frustration and pain.? I happened to be attending the annual SC Municipal Association Meeting (ironically, working on additional funding sources for drainage projects) and fortunately when we returned to town early Friday evening the waters had mostly receded.? The worst impact was the closure of the Septima Clark Parkway, or Crosstown.? The City is currently in Phase 3 of a 5-phase project that is expensive (approximately $ 160,000,000) under a multi year plan with the projected completion to be in 2022.? The immense project includes a massive pump station between the Ashley River Bridges that will essentially evacuate storm water from a nearly 600-acre section of our City, including all of the Septima Clark Parkway.? According to the best engineers money can buy, we are told that upon completion, the kind of event that occurred Friday will be a thing of the past.? I know this has been taking longer than any of us would like and it is not currently mitigating the effects of very heavy rains, but the construction necessitates a sequence of projects, all of which have timelines.? The good news is that the funding is in place and it’s under construction, so real relief is in sight.
In the meantime, as we have experienced more and more extreme weather events, I ask that our citizens keep in mind and work with the city and your neighbors to:
- Pay close attention to the weather and tidal reports.? If you are in a low-lying area, please take those steps to protect yourself and your property.? Be proactive.
- While our capable staff inspects the storm water systems on a regular basis it would be helpful if you could help check nearby drains, pipes, and ditches and let us know if they are not free of debris in front of your homes or business.? If unable to clear debris, please contact the City Customer Service Hotline at 724-7311 to request service.? You may also “adopt-a-drain” on the City’s website by clicking here. This is a new City initiative to keep our eyes on drains and keep storm water flowing.
- Please do not attempt to drive on any street that appears to be impassable.
Progress with Traffic and Transportation:
I’m proud that my colleagues on City Council and I gave first reading to our new Citywide Transportation Plan, with final passage expected next month.? Much thanks to our Traffic and Transportation Director, Keith Benjamin, for his incredible efforts in bringing this plan forward.? And thanks, too, to the literally hundreds of citizens who participated along the way.? You may view the plan by clicking here.
The plan identified transportation policies such as “Complete Streets” that are to be updated, as well as 13 specific projects for transportation and public safety improvement.? The most important aspect of the plan is that it dovetails with the regional Council of Governments transportation plan, meaning that our projects are prioritized for future funding. In the meantime, as we await final Council approval in August, we are already working on a number of the specific projects included in the recommendations.
Affordable Housing is a Priority
Sandy and I were honored to be a part of the dedication of a new affordable housing community built on James Island, which is an important component of the diversity of our city. The City partnered with Sea Island Habitat for Humanity, which recently celebrated its 40th birthday and is the 3rd oldest chapter of Habitat.? The lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath homes have an affordable price tag of $69,000/unit with financing based on ability to pay.? It was eye-opening to discover that the land cost and infrastructure for each lot was $72,000/unit, more than the cost of the home itself. ?This is because of the heavy lifting by Habitat’s amazing and tirelessly committed volunteers.? I will be bringing a set of proposals to City Council soon to reduce costs (impact fees, inspections, permitting, etc.) wherever possible to further increase the stock of affordable housing in our City.
What’s Going on In City Government?
I share below information from the City of Charleston on upcoming events, activities, and services.? I hope this helps you better understand how much is happening throughout the city and the countless numbers of hours volunteers, non-profit organizations, businesses and city staff are investing in making our city the best we can be.
Committee on Community Development
July 26, 4:30 PM @ City Hall, Council Chamber
Board of Architectural Review – Small
July 26, 4:30 PM?-?9:30 PM @ Gaillard Center Public Meeting Room
Ad Hoc Budget Committee
July 27, 3:30 PM @ 116 Meeting Street, First Floor Conference Room
Commission on Disability Issues
July 27, 4:00 PM @ 2 George Street: Public Meeting Room, First Floor
Maybank Highway Public Zoning Workshop
July 30 and 31, 6:00 PM?-?8:00 PM
MORE: Charleston County and City of Charleston Planning Departments will co-host two public workshops on the proposed Maybank Highway and Main Road Zoning District., The workshops will provide staff with public input regarding land use, zoning, and development standards along Maybank Highway and Main Road. The purpose of this collaborative planning effort is to create consistent land use, zoning, and development requirements between the County and City, and for the County to create a new Main Road Overlay Zoning District. Attendees will be encouraged to provide feedback through a community survey, comment cards, and a public comment session. These are the first public workshops regarding the Maybank Highway and Main Road corridors, which will take place over the next year.
I hope this newsletter has been helpful. Thanks for taking the time to review, and please share any comments and suggestions.
I remain at your service and cherish every moment being the Mayor of my hometown.
Mayor, City of Charleston
Waterfront Park Photo Courtesy of Mark A. Leon
Mayor Pictures Courtesy of Charleston County Government