By Jennie Pierce for Island Eye News
As a full-time resident of Isle of Palms, I am watching yet another devastating effect of Covid-19, Senate Bill 40 (S40). Our city council worked in good faith to honor the Governor’s directives in a time of confusion, isolation, and fear. They were trying to protect our community, the majority of whom are over 60 years of age, the most vulnerable Covid demographic. A divisive social media group emerged, roused support and created a false narrative that limiting parking was intentional and an opportunity to block beach access to non-residents, permanently. It was a temporary measure, and now SCDOT, Senator Grooms, and communities outside IOP have forged together to pass S40. Borne out of anger and frustration and now poised to forever change the authority over parking in municipalities, and particularly ours it would seem.
We have all recently witnessed a glimpse of what S40 has in store for us – visitors and homeowners. The recent modifications by SCDOT to the IOP Connector to remove the emergency lane (from an island!) with NO input from all the public safety groups Secretary Hall has at her disposal, or IOP, is disconcerting. Next, the implementation of angled parking on Palm Blvd to increase parking was approved by city council, or risk the revocation of IOP’s Beach Parking Plan by SCDOT. According to painstaking measurements undertaken by an IOP resident, these modifications still appear not to meet SCDOT’s own stated safety standards. Time will tell. All this suggests to me that safety is not a primary objective, and local municipalities are best equipped to address issues where they live and work. Current law supports this.
It appears to me that the end game of S40 is to increase free parking and remove resident parking on our island under the guise of SCDOT authority. Of course everyone wants free and endless parking spots, who wouldn’t? But with a finite resource, a tiny island, an endless free parking model is simply not safely sustainable for a residential and/or resort community. Additionally, and equally important, it threatens the idea of self-governance at the local level, a long-held belief of South Carolinians for decades. It seems only Representative Joe Bustos of District 112 (who bravely refuses to bow to political pressure) knows what is at risk with S40. Not only will it result in destroying our neighborhoods, but it poses serious safety and traffic concerns for residents and visitors alike. No one wants to discourage visitors to our island, we welcome and are friends with many of them, we simply want to preserve our safe neighborhood community for us ALL to enjoy.
Please reach out to our legislators and voice your concerns about S40. If passed, our community that we know and love will never be the same.