Saturday, June 13, 2015

Today at 5 pm it took 30 minutes to move 8 blocks on Palm Blvd. To get from 34th Avenue to Rifle Range Road took 1 hour.

And it will just keep getting worse as tri-county development races along and IOP is conveniently located at the end of 526.

Of course city council could have done something, anything, to restrict parking, but instead of making some decisions, which, admittedly would make some residents angry, they instead decided to pay a consultant $150,000 to come up with some “solutions.”

You all know how this works.  They implement the consultant’s solutions and then when a resident is pissed off, council tells the resident, “Hey, I agree with you, but this is what the expert consultant recommended.”

The trouble here is the consultant, Stantec, recommended a paid parking system that would be so complicated to implement and enforce that it would take the geniuses at Google to get it up and running.  So council canned the idea and went back to more talking and planning.  And so again this summer we have gridlock on Palm Blvd.

Gridlock caused by daytrippers who contribute not one penny to fund the infrastructure that must be put in place to accommodate them.  So how does the city get them to pay for the extra services they generate?

How about limiting the free parking so they must park in the city lot that is virtually never at capacity except for a few very busy days?  How about doing it now?  Why wait?

This simple solution addresses 2 problems: The daytrippers start paying their way and there is much less congestion on the streets in the residential areas.

Yeah, it is that simple. But as Tina Turner sang, “You see we never do nothing nice, easy.”  That’s our city council for ya.

Blanche DuBois Strategy

Here is an inside tip for IOP residents trying to leave the island late afternoon on a Sat or Sun.  Head down Cameron or Hartnett to 23rd or 24th Ave and then cut into the line on Palm Blvd that is in gridlock out past 34th Ave.  You can also try Waterway, but I have found that 21st Ave can get pretty backed up.  It seems a lot of people who use the marina know about Waterway, at least that is my guess.

Works everytime.

You’re welcome!

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign…155 Signs

Signs on Palm Blvd

Look closely at the above photo.  In a space of 10 yards on Palm Blvd there are 10 regulatory signs!  It got me thinking, just how many signs are there between my house and the connector?

From 34th Avenue to the connector is about 1.25 miles.  Here is the breakdown of signs on each side of Palm Blvd: (this does not include street signs)

From 34th Ave to the connector:  Regulatory signs      42

Information signs     22

Total                         64

From the connector to 34th Ave:  Regulatory signs      45

Information signs     21

Total                         66

Total Number of Signs: 130

1.25 miles is 6600 feet. Yep, there is a sign every 51 feet. A speed of 35 mph translates to 51 feet/sec. So as you drive down Palm Blvd there is a sign every second. Hopefully one only looks at the signs on his side of the road, so that would reduce this in half to a sign every 2 seconds!

And worst of all, the signs are the cheap metal crap probably stamped out in a prison workshop.  We live on the one of the most beautiful areas of South Carolina and we litter it up with all these cheap signs.

Finally, I did not include signs at beach access points.   Here there are another 25 signs, 18 of which are, of course, regulatory.

52nd Avenue’s Parking Solution

52nd avenue

Does anyone remember these signs that were briefly displayed on 52nd Avenue in the fall of 2012?

Well, here is the story.  The information that follows is taken from court documents in the lawsuit the residents of this street have filed against the city.  You can find them at http://www.charlestoncounty.org.  Go to the section dealing with cases in the circuit court and put in the case # 2014CP1002090.  The case was filed on 31 March 2014 and is 50 pages in length.  There are quite a few documents associated with the suit and they make for fascinating reading!

OK, here is the gist of the story.  The dudes on 52nd didn’t want any daytrippers parking on their street.  But what to do?  First they formed a non-profit corporation named Beach Property Owners Association on 09 August 2012.  Once formed they persuaded the Beach Company (Charles Way) to sign a quit claim form on 10 September 2012.  Of note to some of you political insiders reading this, the form was notarized by none other than Nick Sottile!

Having this form in hand the Beach Company conveyed the street to the Association on 12 September 2012.  At this point the Association felt they owned the street so they erected the above No Parking signs.

Well, it didn’t take long for the city to say, “Just one minute, boys, we own that street!”  The city took the signs down and the Association decided it was time to lawyer up.  And thus, about a year and half later, the Association filed a lawsuit against the City of IOP and the SC DOT to clarify that 52nd Avenue is a private street.

It was kind of a harebrained scheme to begin with, but, hey, it was worth a shot.  As for the lawsuit, the city is being defended by Brent Halversen.  And you, fellow IOP resident, are paying for this defense of this ridiculous lawsuit.

PS.  If I can find the time, I will comment on some of the fascinating documents associated with this case.

Letter to the Editor – Island Eye News, May 22

IOP Parking

Another summer season is almost here and with it the tidal wave of daytrippers coming to enjoy a day at the beach.

After 6 years of planning on how to deal with this unsafe tsunami of cars, City Council has decided to do….nothing!  Talk and plan, talk and plan, and then talk and plan some more. T o be totally fair they have put up a couple of nice wooden signs with arrows pointing to the parking lot.

Council hired a parking consultant, Stantec, and paid them $148,000 (so far) for which Stantec held some meetings, took some aerial photos and did some car counts.  After this exhaustive research Stantec came to the stunning conclusions that a lot of cars come here in the summer, a lot more come on the weekends, and a lot, lot more come on holidays!  And, oh yeah, a lot of people have unlawfully put stuff in the easements.

Council decided to go with a paid parking system, but with no idea on how to sell the passes, how many passes to sell, how to price the passes, how to monitor the passes, etc., etc.  With so many variables to deal with Council decided to can the whole idea, step back, and do some more talking and planning!  Six years…

Now all plans have been postponed until next summer, and if the past is any indication of the future, it will be delayed next summer as Council tries to find the perfect plan that will make everyone happy.  It has been said the perfect is the enemy of the good.  This is so very true as we get ready to be swamped by cars while Council looks for perfection.

Isn’t it time to just try something, anything?  If it doesn’t work it can be scrapped or changed.  It is way past time to quit thinking and just try something.

Ralph B. Piening

246 Forest Trail

The “Other” No Parking Area

Greenspace1

Yes, besides Ocean Blvd, there is another No Parking Zone on the IOP.  Pictured above is the city-purchased Greenspace!  When purchased many had the thought that it would be left in its natural state thus making it a sanctuary for birds and other wildlife.  Nope.  City hires some dudes to come in and clear it out.  Then city decides it needs a parking lot.  As best this editor can tell, employees of the shops next door starting using the lot all day, so cones were put up so no one could use it!

The photo below is what the lot looked like when purchased by the city.

new greenspace

Snap decisions on this site made by a city council that has been thinking about parking for years and still with a lot more thinking to go!

Now that the space has been cleared, could it be used for daytripper parking….?

Offshore Drilling, Plastic Bags……….and Maybe Parking

As the weather turns nice we saw cars lined up to Rifle Range Road at the end of April waiting to get onto the IOP.  As we approach another summer season and the tsumani of cars it will bring, IOP City Council spends its time on peripheral issues.

First, council dealt with offshore drilling.

Then council decided to take on plastic bags.

To be clear, this editor is not taking a position one way or another on these issues.  Perhaps, you say, Council can certainly do more than one thing at a time.  Well, clearly this is not the case as Council has been “working” on daytripper parking for 6 years. What is concerning is that the house is burning down and council is worried about the weeds in the yard.  We are again about to be overrun with daytrippers and again a plan has been delayed until NEXT summer.

More than likely something will come up to delay it next summer as well.

Come on folks, just do something, anything, besides talking and planning, and talking and planning and talking and planning.

Paid Parking — Nevermind!

After 2 years of planning and $150,000 paid to Stantec to implement a paid parking plan, City Council unanimously canned the whole idea at the Way and Means committee meeting on April 21.  Yep, you read that right.  So it is now official: we wasted $150,000 dollars to get information we already knew and then blew off the consultants recommendations.  (See the post on Stantec.)

Council has essentially decided to go with Parking Plan A (see the post below) but without paid parking.  We could have been at this point several years ago but the “financial conservatives” on Council wanted to spend your money for a consultant to tell them a lot of people come to the beach in the summer and it only going to get worse!  I would have gladly provided this information for 1/10th the price.

Now here is the really interesting part.  Daytrippers will be able to park for free until the designated spots are filled.  If you, however, are having enough guests come to your house that some of them will have park in the easement at your house, YOU WILL HAVE TO PAY TO GET THEM PASSES!

Ya gotta love it.  This is the Alice in Wonderland inversion.  Council cans paid parking for daytrippers but is going to charge residents to have guests visit.  You know, maybe it is time for a change on Council…

Stantec

Stantec (symbol STN on the NYSE) is the consulting firm hired by the city to assist with finding solutions to the daytripper parking problem.

Through the end of March 2015 the city has paid them $148,256.

For this princely sum they have held several meetings, counted cars coming onto the island, taken some aerial photos and collected the following observations:

A lot of cars come here in the summer.

A lot more come on weekends.

A lot, lot more come on holidays.

Finally, a lot of homes have obstacles in the easement by the side of the road.

Included in the above spending was $5000 for advice on a digital sign that council decided it did not want.

The above is a perfect illustration of this old joke about consultants:

Hans and Franz where up in their hot air balloon when they got lost.  (This was in the days before cell phones and GPS.)  They saw a man in his front yard so they lowered the balloon to about 10 feet off the ground.

Hans yelled out to the man, where are we?

The man replied, you’re up there.

Hans looked at Franz and told him, that man must be a consultant.

How do you know that?, Franz said.

Because what he just told us it totally accurate and totally useless!

Parking Accomplishments to Date

Parking sign1

Parking sign2

Parking sign3

Yep, that’s it!  After 7 years, an untold number of meetings and paying Stantec $150,000 (more on Stantec in another post) this is where we are.  At least the signs are nice wooden ones and not the cheap metal ones that litter the rest of the island.

These signs were up last summer and they seem to have had a tremendous impact in alleviating the parking problems…!