The Isle of Palms has an election coming up on November 7, and Ralph Piening (me) has entered the race. Why? I am entering to make sure the voice of the resident is heard loud and clear. You know, the person who actually lives here all year. Not the investors, the developers, the real estate cartel, the daytrippers, etc. The Residents. You and Me.
This is the Vision Statement taken from the City’s comprehensive plan:
Isle of Palms has developed into a premier barrier island residential
community with a variety of housing styles, commercial uses and
recreational facilities. Despite the natural cycle of beach erosion that is
inherent on barrier islands and the extensive development of the island, the
natural resources that make Isle of Palms such a wonderful place to live and
visit remain intact and in good condition. Measures that will enhance the
existing character of the island as a quality place to live, and protect the
environment both on and around the island, must be taken to guide
development and preserve the quality of life for generations to come.
January 31, 2002 (revised May 26, 2015)
The entire comprehensive plan for the IOP can be found here.
As the real estate market heats to a boil as it did 10 years ago, we are about to see out of control development that has the potential to ruin the residential character of the IOP. So what am I going to do about it? What follows is my vision of what needs to be done. If you agree with these ideas, vote me into office. If you don’t agree, vote for someone else. If what you want more than anything in the world is a new rec center exercise room on the IOP, I am not your guy.
1. Daytripper parking only the ocean side of Ocean and Palm Blvds.
This website has covered this topic ad nauseum, so I will not go into great detail here other than to say the current situation on Palm Blvd is dangerous and a public safety disaster. No other community on the eastern seaboard (including all of Florida) permits this density of parking in residential neighborhoods. None.
Except for a few days a year, the public parking lot in the business district is not full. We do not need all this parking on Palm Blvd to meet the requirements of the state’s Beach Management Act.
And just when did Ocean Blvd achieve sacred status that prevents the unwashed masses from parking in front of the massive, pristine rental properties? This is ridiculous and council should have fixed this when they implemented the current parking plan.
2. No more money for the marina until there is a plan in place to ensure residents always get priority.
Yes, the marina needs repairs and with some money it could be a beautiful area. But let’s be clear: We bought it, we paid for it, we own it. It does NOT belong to the tenants or off-island visitors.
There needs to be a mechanism in place that permits a resident to get a slip when he or she desires one. Maybe not immediately, but certainly within 6 months. Residents should be able to park their trailers there. They should not have to compete with off-island visitors.
The businesses that have leases there need to be audited and I will never vote to approve a 30 year no bid lease as has been done by council. What were they thinking?
Once it is clearly delineated that the marina is primarily for residential use, I will agree to spend more money on it.
3. More transparency in city government.
This is another topic this website has covered in the past. Minutes of all city meetings should be published on the city’s website within 3 business days of the meeting. Most residents don’t have the time or desire to attend a city council meeting or to watch the video posted soon after. I, like most of you, can get the information much more quickly by reading.
Marie Copeland produces excellent minutes that are rarely if ever revised. The problem is they are not posted until they are accepted by council or a committee at their next meeting, a meeting that occurs 4 weeks later. Quite frankly, this makes no sense. Put the minutes up on the web and in the rare instance they are revised, well, just revise them. An example of what I am talking about can be found here.
4. No further development in Wild Dunes by the resort owner.
Somewhere there is a plan for the resort owner to embark on phase 2 of The Villages. This is nuts. We have enough traffic here in the summer and we don’t need more. I don’t think there is a single person in Wild Dunes who wants this. But as has often been the case on the IOP, the residents be damned! Make way for development, baby.
The city has an excellent attorney and I will ask city council to task her with trying to find ways to stop any more development in Wild Dunes.
5. Closer oversight by the city of all the new massive homes being built.
Here we go again! The city has strict rules on lot coverage and permeable surface coverage. My concern is the city does not have the personnel to keep on top of this. Lots are being elevated (against the law), grand oaks are being cut down (against the law), too much of the lot is being covered (against the law), new rentals are marketed to more than 12 people (against the law), etc.
The employees in the building department are excellent and work hard, but I am concerned they are not able to stay on top of this situation. I will give them any help they need.
Let me close with these thoughts. The IOP has the best city employees anywhere. Period. They work hard, care about the island, and are very conscientious. They do what council directs them to do.
You will hear a lot about “out of control” spending. Judge for yourself. The current budget is online and can be found here.
I am happy to talk to anyone at anytime. I have been at 246 Forest Trail for 18 years. If the garage door is open I am at home. Stop by and let me know what you think City Council should be doing to make IOP better for the residents who live here.