Some government actions are legal, and even politically astute, but are still unkind. That’s when the debate begins over government’s duty to the people.
Last week, North Charleston City Council gave initial approval to a zoning change that effectively puts residents of 27 mobile homes out of their homes.
Yes, a property owner has a right to sell his property.
Yes, the College of Charleston needs a new site for its Lowcountry Graduate Center. Its present one has been purchased, and they need a North Campus functioning by next fall.
And yes, by fast-tracking and rezoning the trailer park site, North Charleston will accommodate the College of Charleston and eventually enhance a depressed neighborhood’s image.
But there is a human side to this equation: The people and families — some who own their mobile homes and some who rent — who don’t have the money to move or a place to go.
The proposition reduced some of them to tears as they asked City Council to consider their plight.
Todd Olds, city council member who represents those residents, said, “these people” have been given adequate time to make arrangements.
But one resident said they received notification only the day before that they must be gone in 45 days.
City Council is scheduled to make its final decision on the rezoning today. And given that the first vote was unanimous (one council member was absent), it is likely to pass.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey last week offered the city’s administrative assistance to residents as they find alternate housing options. Council should commit to that assistance as part of its decision. City staff should be instructed to do everything it can to ensure mobile home park residents find a place to go and a way to get there.
One person who commented on the news story on postandcourier.com wrote that she is increasingly aware “that this area’s city, county and state leaders care more about their own agendas than they do about the lives they are charged to represent.”
Residents of the decades-old mobile homes are unlikely to be movers and shakers connected to North Charleston’s leaders.
But a city that leaves any residents out in the cold as the holidays approach isn’t representing all its citizens.
In the long run, a new Lowcountry Graduate Center will bring new life to the area and be a boon to the city of North Charleston.
The city of North Charleston should see that it is planted on a foundation not compromised by personal tragedies.