The Charleston peninsula was once flanked by the Cooper and Ashley rivers.

Now it's flanked by the Cooper River and an ever-growing boat parking lot.

OK, so there's still an Ashley River somewhere down there under all of those oversized flotation devices.

But that river will become even harder to see if -- make that when? -- the Charleston City Marina expands another 140 feet or so in the Ashley. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control Board backed that project Thursday after meeting in Columbia with supporters and opponents of the project.

The foes can still try to get a state administrative law court to overturn the DHEC backing of that permit application by the marina, which is owned by the City of Charleston and leased by the City Marina Company, a subsidiary of the Beach Company.

Yet for lots of us aging folks who grew up here, blocking -- or even permanently scuttling -- that expansion would be a too-little, too-late victory at sea.

That's because boat-city eyesores already dominate our views on both sides when we look at -- make that for -- the Ashley River while crossing the side-by-side T. Allen Legare and World War II Memorial bridges.

Glance to the right from the Legare bridge while going into town and you'll see the City Marina covering much of the river on the peninsula side. There are also plenty of boats on the west side of the river at the Ripley Light Marina.

Glance to the right from the WWII bridge while going to West Ashley and you'll see the Bristol Marina -- also a City Marina Co. enterprise -- covering much of the river on the peninsula side next to Brittlebank Park.

Part of the City Marina's expansion pitch is that 40 slips have been lost due to silting near the shore. Another part is that the new docking spots will be built to the north and south, thus keeping the main channel of the river 300 feet wide.

So why doesn't it look anywhere near that wide?

Because there are so many boats surrounding that channel.

And what about the increased need for dredging more silt that's bound to come with increased dock space -- a task that wasn't included in the marina's permit request?

Hey, at least we can still park free of charge on the public right of way within easy walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean at the Isle of Palms.

But for how long?

The Isle of Palms Planning Commission recommended Wednesday night that the city issue up to 1,000 seasonal (March through September) parking passes at $65 each for streets outside the commercial area. The policy, which would take effect in 2013, is purportedly aimed at easing the burdens that intrusive, rowdy and messy visitors impose upon residents.

More likely, it's aimed at undermining the meaning of the many "public beach access" signs on shore-side streets.

One Isle of Palmsian (Palmite? Palmer? Palminian?) told our reporter that uninvited rowdies had entered his yard, used his hose system and littered.

He said he even witnessed outsiders indulging in nudity and drunkenness.

Hmm. This habitual visitor to -- and free parker on -- the Isle of Palms hasn't done, or seen, anything of the notorious kind.

But if anyone ever bought a house on the Isle of Palms while unaware that those Palm Boulevard parking places are public property, that purchaser wasn't paying sufficient attention to location-location- location detail.

And if anyone is aware of where the IOP nudity hotbeds are, please point me in their direction to facilitate a thorough journalistic investigation.

Meanwhile, enjoy looking at and swimming in what's left of our waters -- while you still can.