After the 1990s base closures, growth of tourism and SPAWAR helped avoid a local recession. Then there was a period of reasonable growth with matching improvements in quality of life and infrastructure. Subsequently, elected officials and business developers did too good a job attracting new industry and tourism. Explosive growth followed, overloading schools, roads, beaches, airports, attractions and everything good that Charleston had to offer.
It has been shown that we can’t manage the growth. We did not need the aggregate effect of Boeing, Volvo, the port, tourism or cruise ships, and we did not need the influx of people to fill the new jobs.
Big businesses were given big tax incentives, which eliminated the funding source for infrastructure improvements. Boeing should contribute to solving the infrastructure problems it helped create instead of giving $500,000 to build a new museum. High density “Jaspers” are built or planned for Mount Pleasant, James Island and Broad Street. “Save Shem Creek” has become “Pave Shem Creek” and development of Capt. Sam’s Spit is next.
New hotels are popping up like weeds downtown and people are losing the development battle on every front. Meanwhile, Maybank Highway is still only two lanes from the Geligotis Bridge to River Road, and Main Road still floods with tides or rain.
Everyone is clamoring over growth management issues including zoning, tax increases, sprawl versus high density, parks, traffic and parking. But we are missing the point.
What we need to do is force our local governments to stop the growth in order to preserve what is left of our quality of life.