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What are the three most important issues facing the Isle of Palms? Why are these issues important?The issues facing the Isle of Palms are symptoms of the increasing attractiveness of the Charleston area as a great place to live and a global vacation destination. This success has resulted in explosive growth and pressures on our 4.4-square-mile island, with about 10 million annual crossings on the Connector and Breach Inlet. The three most important issues are a direct result of this attractiveness. Increasing stress on IOP’s services and infrastructure, such as public safety, sanitation, parking, walking and bike paths and traffic control; Balancing the current unlimited rental business with retaining a residential community; Island drainage, beach erosion and preserving what’s left of our undeveloped areas. Residents are grateful for IOP’s success and have a strong desire to maintain a balance while investing in sustainable infrastructure and services. They also understand that doing nothing to protect the balance will result in further declines in our full- and part-time resident population and the quality of life we enjoy today.
Do you think there should be a limit on the number of short-term rental licenses issued by the city? Would you agree to accept the outcome of the Nov. 7 referendum on short-term rental licenses? Why or why not?Yes. IOP is the only remaining open market in the area for unlimited short-term rentals. Combined with our lack of action, this resulted in a 28% growth in short-term rental licensed properties in the most recent registration period. Four months into the new registration period, we’ve exceeded last year’s total licenses. While many opposing viewpoints state the increase is driven by residents safeguarding a license, the permanent residents who have obtained a license so far in 2023 is 7% less than prior period. Since Council tasked the Planning Commission over two years ago to evaluate STRs, we’ve watched while surrounding communities proactively addressed impacts to quality of life from unlimited STRs within their residential community. IOP has targeted a balance of 1/3 residents, 1/3 second homes and 1/3 rentals, which I fully support. The overwhelming input from residents was in support of limits (i.e., over 80% of emails to Council and speakers at Council meetings, plus 31% of the electorate signing the petition, were for STR limits). The residents have requested that balance be secured for the future and do not trust a wait and see stance. I’ll vote YES for the referendum, and, if elected, will support a Commercial District exclusion. I proposed this, but it was rejected 5-4 by Council in February 2023. If the referendum fails, I will accept that the residents of our community have spoken.
Should the city of Isle of Palms be responsible for protecting beachfront properties from erosion? If the city pays for projects that help protect these properties, should the owners be required to give the city a permanent easement on the property?Protecting the beachfront is our responsibility. IOP has a growing $8 million fund to support it. Consistent with state policy and having personally worked on the Comprehensive Plan, I fully agree with Tim Ahmuty’s June 26 letter to Council, summarizing our responsibility (excerpts): “I urge you to take the necessary actions to stop the erosion. Referring to IOP’s Comprehensive Plan, it provides guidelines to take action necessary to maintain and preserve our beaches. Economic Section: Maintain and enhance an effective monitoring system to ensure beaches, marshlands and marinas are properly maintained. Natural Resources Section: Despite erosion and susceptibility of storms … protection of these natural resources is essential to maintaining a high quality of life on the IOP. Wildlife Section: Support efforts to minimize the impact of erosion throughout the island, including nourishment projects as the need arises. Resilience Key Issues: Maintain a healthy beach and shoreline. Support renourishment. Establish a healthy disaster recovery account. Restoring the dunes and beach is a Council and mayoral responsibility. It affects all that live and visit the island.” Recent events exposed the need to support these plans and document procedures to implement IOP’s beach renourishment guidelines and fund use. I’ll rely on our city attorney regarding easement requirements commensurate with specific renourishment efforts. Each renourishment has different aspects that may affect the need for a permanent easement, a temporary or no easement.
Is the city of Isle of Palms getting its money’s worth for the more than $1 million a year it gives to the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau in accommodations taxes? How would you spend that money differently if state law allowed the city to do so?The $1 million going to the CVB is the result of great success in promoting tourism in the Charleston area. The legislation requiring IOP to send the funds has been in place for decades, when original legislation earmarked ATAX funds to promote a start-up tourism industry. In 2000, IOP sent about $200K to the CVB – in 2020, over $500K. The final tally for 2023 may exceed $1.1 million. The 100%+ growth in the last four fiscal years is also indicative of volume and price increases in short-term rentals on IOP. Does IOP need to spend $1.1 million promoting more tourism? No. This has resulted in an unintended misallocation of IOP funds due to 30-year-old law. I’ve proposed to legislators and our lobbyists that IOP join other large contributors (Kiawah, Myrtle Beach, others) to introduce legislation limiting a municipality’s contribution to the lesser of 30% or a fixed dollar amount and allow the remainder to be spent on durable infrastructure and/or services supporting and managing tourism. I will continue to push our legislators to make this change and seek tangible alternative uses for these funds in the meantime.
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