New Charleston mayor must make quality of life top priority (copy)

John Tecklenburg (Grace Beahm/Staff)

Mayor John Tecklenburg’s campaign literature “A Plan for Charleston” contains several measurable goals. Here’s a sampling, followed by updates on whether they’ve been achieved so far. 

  • Complete Interstate 526 and extend Glenn McConnell Parkway.
    • The State Infrastructure Bank Board has ended its participation in I-526, and it’s highly unlikely Charleston County can afford to complete it alone.
    • The developers of Long Savannah, a huge new residential community planned in outer West Ashley, have committed to building an extension of Glenn McConnell Parkway from the West Ashley Circle to the Village Green property, which would be conveyed to the city after it's built. But City Planner Jacob Lindsey said in January the city wouldn't support extending it any farther.
  • More resident involvement in city planning.
    • The city has convened resident task forces to help make planning decisions such as the Short Term Rental Task Force and the West Ashley Revitalization Committee. Staff has held multiple community workshops to help people become acquainted with planning processes.
  • New regulations on cruise ships.
    • None so far. Councilman Mike Seekings pitched a head tax on cruise ship passengers this year, an idea from the city’s Tourism Management Plan. Tecklenburg said state legislators have told him it probably wouldn't gain many supporters.
  • A review of carriage and tour bus operations.
    • It’s an ongoing process, according to the city. The first step, reducing the maximum outside temperature carriage horses can work in, has been completed.
  • A pause in new hotel construction.
    • The hotel moratorium failed to get enough votes on City Council. Other approaches to curb hotel development were also unsuccessful, but City Council did approve minor changes to the rules hotel developers have to follow. They include provisions for employee parking and visitor drop-off and pickup points to ease traffic congestion.
  • A zoning review to protect neighborhoods from sprawl.
    • The city annexed and rezoned a number of large properties in outer West Ashley to prevent them from being developed, but it's being challenged by North Charleston, which has claimed some of the same territories.
    • Downtown Charleston’s zoning codes were overhauled last year to cap building heights by number of floors, not linear feet. It mostly reduced allowed density.
    • The West Ashley Master Plan approved this year calls for more residential density near commercial centers. New zoning rules on James Island's Folly Road discourages large apartments and lowers building heights. 
  • Build additional parking outside the city center and make residential parking a priority.
    • A peninsula-wide parking study is under way, but Tecklenburg recently said in an interview with The Post and Courier that other mayors across the country are finding that parking garages are not wise investments because autonomous cars could eliminate the need for them within the next decade.
    • Mainly through efforts of the city and the Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority, there are new park-and-ride bus stations on the Upper Peninsula to help workers commute into the busy areas downtown.
  • Create sustainable workforce housing.
    • Tecklenburg led a successful campaign in November to convince voters to allow the city to borrow $20 million for affordable housing. The master plan for how the money will be used has not been brought to City Council.
    • The mayor also reformed zoning incentives to give downtown apartment developers the option to either build lower-rent units or pay into the city’s affordable housing fund.
  • Strengthen small business through incubators, affordable real estate and reviewing permitting policies.
    • The city is working to lease a few sites downtown for incubators, but progress on the other goals remains to be seen.
  • Do performance audits of every area of city government.
    • Novak Consulting has been contracted for the job. The city will hire a different specialized firm to audit the police department, particularly to identify racially biased practices.
  • Unveil a single service number and develop smartphone apps to help communications with the city.
    • The city is in the process of opening a customer service call center residents can call with any concerns or requests.
  • Work with James Island on roads and services.
    • City staff has quarterly meetings with other jurisdictions on the island to coordinate services.
  • Fully provide city services to Johns Island.
    • An infrastructure planning committee has convened to focus on this.
  • Help Daniel Island with parks, intersection improvements and parking.
    • Work is ongoing on crosswalk improvements and a new roundabout for Seven Farms Drive.
    • A new community center is breaking ground this year and a new public park is under construction on the northern end of the island.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 843-937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.

Abigail Darlington is a local government reporter focusing primarily on the City of Charleston. She previously covered local arts & entertainment, technology, innovation, tourism and retail for the Post and Courier.