Mayoral Candidate Preliminary Questionnaire: Hospitality Tax

8. Hospitality Tax 

The Hospitality Tax is a uniform tax of 2% on the gross proceeds derived from the sales of prepared meals, food, and beverages sold in or by establishments, or those licensed for on- premises consumption of alcoholic beverages, beer, or wine. 
Pursuant to SC Code s. 6-1-730, revenue from local hospitality tax may be used for the following purposes: 

(1) tourism-related buildings including, but not limited to, civic centers, coliseums, and aquariums; (2) tourism-related cultural, recreational, or historic facilities; 
 (3) beach access and renourishment; (4) highways, roads, streets, and bridges providing access to tourist destinations; (5) advertisements and promotions related to tourism development; or (6) water and sewer infrastructure to serve tourism-related demand. 

In 2014, the City of Charleston received more than $13 million in Hospitality Tax revenue from the F&B industry. According to the City of Charleston’s records, the expenditure of these funds was as follows:

$5,658,566: General fund;
$4,529,000: Capital Improvements fund;
$750,000: Gaillard Center operating start-up costs;
$572,000: Visitor Center fund;
$269,742: Energy Performance fund;
$150,000: Daniel Island Tennis Center maintenance;
$100,000: Ballpark fund;
$210,000: Aquarium annual capital maintenance;
$210,000: Gibbes annual capital maintenance;
$170,000: Entertainment District law enforcement & maintenance;
$132,000: CVB promotions & advertising;
$130,000: International African-American Museum;
$83,164: Parking facilities fund;
$68,000: Cultural Festivals fund;
$35,000: CVB Gaillard exhibit hall event marketing support;
$19,500: Angel Oak;
$17,500: Black expo;
$3,800: Riverwalk maintenance. 

Question 10:

Considering the significance and statutory purpose of this tax revenue, what would you do to ensure that the use of these funds is efficient, transparent, and is beneficial to the businesses that pay this tax? 

Deerin

The food and beverage industry provides million dollars in tax revenue for the city. In 2015, the estimated hospitality tax revenue will be $13,807,500. The funding decision process needs to be transparent, fair and smart based on the strategic plans for our city. 

Stavrinakis

The Hospitality Tax is intended to help pay for tourism related projects and priorities. As Mayor, I won’t use the hospitality tax money as a slush fund for other unrelated projects and will make sure it is spent properly and transparently. As someone who has spent almost his entire life in the hospitality industry, I know how important it is for the city to spend this money wisely and as mayor I will.

Tecklenburg

Again, this is why I believe the performance audit I will conduct in my first year as Mayor is so important. We need to ensure that we are spending taxpayer dollars  in an efficient, transparent manner, and to do that, we have to have reliable metrics.  After we have those numbers  in hand, we’ll be in a much better position to deliver real accountability to our residents and local businesses, and that’s exactly what I will do as Mayor.
To learn more, please visit the Better City Services section  of my plan:
http://www.tecklenburgformayor.com/part_iv_better_city_services

Mayoral Candidate Preliminary Questionnaire: Boards and Committees

7. Boards & Committees

Much of Charleston’s policy-making is heavily influenced by the recommendations of dozens of Boards and Committees (“BCs”) whose members are selected by the mayor, and to some extent by City Council. While not all of the membership and activity of these BCs is readily accessible, the common understanding is that these BCs tend to draw from the same demographic, with some members sitting on several BCs simultaneously.

Question 7:

Assuming that there are Charlestonians that fall outside of the currently dominating BC demographic, and who are actively willing to participate as BC members, what would you do to include them in BCs?

Deerin

Boards and commissions should represent diverse points of view; otherwise it’s a real roadblock to progress. Our selection standards should be high and neighborhood organizations could make recommendations for membership and have input in the selection process – diversifying boards and commissions in the city.

Stavrinakis

After a 40-year administration, there are sure to be some significant changes to the boards and committees. My goal as Mayor is to for any of the BCs for which I have appointment power to be as diverse and inclusive as our city. 

Tecklenburg

Of course. City boards and commissions should  represent  a broad cross­section of our City’s residents and, as Mayor, I will work to ensure that they do, by having an open and inclusive appointment process  that continually brings  new faces and new voices into City governance.

Question 7b:

Do the meetings of these BCs need to be more transparent? Why or why not?

Deerin

The board and commission appointment process as well as meetings must be more transparent and representative of the city.

This is a good place to use technology to significantly improve the process and outcome of board appointments. A simple database could show the mission of all boards and commissions and list the members. Citizens interested in serving could search based upon interests and apply on the internet.  

Stavrinakis

One of the first things I will do as mayor is examine how to make city government more transparent - and that includes boards and committees. I have a long track record of being an advocate for more transparency in government and will continue that as mayor. 

Tecklenburg

Yes. I believe that transparency is essential  to good City government. That’s why, for example, I will be posting this questionnaire on my campaign  website, as I have all the other private, non­press questionnaires that I’ve filled out during  this race. It’s also why my plan for Charleston includes a specific pledge to make all budgets,  meetings  and public  information more readily available to the citizens  and taxpayers  of our city via the Internet.

 

Mayoral Candidate Preliminary Questionnaire: Arts & Culture

6. Art and Culture 

On April 17, 2009, the Supreme Court of Virginia struck down a municipal noise ordinance in Virginia Beach because it was unconstitutionally vague (Tanner v. City of Virginia Beach). The Charleston municipal noise ordinance contains pertinent identical language to that Virginia ordinance. Businesses receive Livability Court criminal citations for violating the ordinance by way of live music. 

Question 6:

Considering the Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling, would you reevaluate Charleston’s noise ordinance? Why or why not? Would the needs of Charleston’s live music scene factor into your decision? 

Deerin

Noises ordinances should be clear so Charleston establishments are able to operate within the perimeters of the law and avoid punishing fines.  A balance needs to be struck between the growth of live music venues and the quality of life of residents who live nearby. 

Stavrinakis

It’s healthy to constantly evaluate our city ordinances to determine how they are working and how our businesses and residents are being affected. As Mayor I will review all ordinances for compliance with changing constitutional standards. Downtown residents deserve to be able to sleep peacefully in their homes at night. Charleston’s live music scene is one of the many things that make our city so special and striking the right balance is key. As Mayor, I will work with residents and businesses to find a middle ground that makes sense for both sides.

Tecklenburg

As you may know, I play piano in a local jazz band that performs live in various  venues throughout the city, so I have a personal  understanding of this issue. And, as with several other difficult questions facing the City, the answer isn’t top­down
decision­making ­­ it’s more and broader public  participation in a process  where we work through our differences and find solutions that work for everyone.

Mayoral Candidate F&B Preliminary Questionnaire: BAR and Zoning Process & Procedure

Candidate's answers are listed in alphabetical order. If we have not published answers from a candidate, that is because we have not received a response from that candidate to our questionnaire. These pages will be updated in due course as we receive any additional responses.

If you would like to suggest followup questions, please email BACE@BACEchs.org.

5. BAR and Zoning Process and Procedure

Given Charleston’s rich history and beautiful architecture, historic preservation is an important issue in Charleston. Correspondingly, BAR procedures and zoning approvals are directly relevant to business owners starting or modifying their businesses. Furthermore, these processes are relevant to the presence of adequate affordable workforce housing for F&B employees on the Peninsula, which by nature requires higher density than uses of property targeted to more affluent residents. These issues have been the subject of much debate recently, including the Sgt. Jasper issue and Andrés Duany’s report. 

Question 5: 

Please articulate how, and to what degree, preservation is important in a developing Charleston.

Deerin

Our Charleston brand must be protected – it’s what put us on the world map. I will work with developers, neighbors, and stakeholders to quickly move projects forward that benefit our city. I will also have the backbone to say “no” when development could harm our city.

There are regions of the city anxious for more development – like parts of West Ashley and the Upper Peninsula. Initial plans are in place for both. As mayor, I will accelerate the implementation of these plans. Our challenge is to be smart and responsible with growth, guiding it to where we want it, and keeping it away from places where it threatens quality of life.

Stavrinakis

Preserving Charleston’s historic character is an important part of our city’s appeal to residents and visitors alike. As mayor, I would be committed to maintaining preservation efforts in Charleston that honor our past and make our beautiful city livable for all and a unique place for visitors. I do think it is important to allow for diverse growth and change in appropriate parts of our city.

Tecklenburg

Preservation is essential  to both our quality  of life and our local economy.  That’s why, for example, I have called on the Beach Company to withdraw it lawsuit  calling  for the abolition of the Board of Architectural Review. It is also why I have called for the BAR to be reformed  in ways that provide  additional protections to our most historic areas, while making room for a somewhat  less stringent standard  outside  of the Historic District, which would give us one of the tools we need to incentivize the creation  of affordable housing for our residents.
To learn more about my affordable housing plan, please see the Economy  and Jobs section  of my plan: http://www.tecklenburgformayor.com/part_iii_economy_and_jobs

Question 5b: 

Do you believe that the BAR’s or the BZA’s processes, policies, membership, guidelines, or any other relevant procedural elements need to be reevaluated? Why or why not? 

Deerin

In short – yes.

The BAR is our city’s #1 defense against overdevelopment and ensuring historic preservation. The purpose of the board is “the preservation and protection of the old historic or architecturally worthy structures and quaint neighborhoods which impart a distinct aspect to the city and which serve as visible reminders of the historical and cultural heritage of the city, the state, and the nation.”

With the rapid growth in our city, processes needs to be updated and streamlined, so business owners are not sitting in permit purgatory for months.  

Andres Duany recommendation to split the Board of Architectural Review into two separate boards is great: one focused on alterations to historic structures and smaller buildings, and one focused on larger buildings. Mayor Riley has taken steps in this direction and I would continue. 

Stavrinakis

It’s incredibly important that Charleston preserves and maintains its historic areas and protects the architectural aesthetic that makes our city special. I am committed to the existence of the BAR. However, I am very interested in the recommendations made in the Duany report and finding ways that we can improve the BAR process and other city regulations to make it more predictable to businesses and citizens, address the city’s housing affordability challenges, and prepare for residential and commercial growth.

Tecklenburg

Yes. I have proposed following Andres Duany’s recommendations for BAR reform, as well his suggestion that we replace height limits  with floor limits,  thereby preserving Charleston’s skyline  while allowing for greater architectural diversity. In addition, I have pledged to give our residents, neighborhoods and other stakeholders a larger voice in the BAR and BZA processes.

To learn more, please see the Livability and Quality of Life section  of my plan:
http://www.tecklenburgformayor.com/part_i_livability_and_quality_of_life 

 

 

Mayoral Candidate F&B Preliminary Questionnaire: CPD Involvement

Candidate's answers are listed in alphabetical order. If we have not published answers from a candidate, that is because we have not received a response from that candidate to our questionnaire. These pages will be updated in due course as we receive any additional responses.

If you would like to suggest followup questions, please email BACE@BACEchs.org.

4. CPD Involvement

The Charleston Police Department has played an active role in Mayor Riley developing his nightlife policies, which has drawn varying responses ranging from enthusiastic support to significant frustration.

Question 4:

To what degree would you be guided by law enforcement’s recommendations regarding nightlife policy, and why?

Deerin

The number one job for our city’s law enforcement is to keep Charleston’s residents and visitors safe. Law enforcement’s late night recommendations should emphasize safety and I will listen to law enforcement officials’ recommendations in this regard. 

Stavrinakis

Charleston’s police force is a vital component of maintaining safety, quality of life in the city, and important insights on policy initiatives. As mayor, I would be mindful of how any of any policy recommendations might impact or burden those doing business in the city and the lives of our citizens. In moving forward on nightlife regulations or any other regulation, I would always seek the input of a diverse group of stakeholders to help guide policy for the city. That has been my reputation in the previous offices I have held, and I would bring that with me to the mayor’s office.

Tecklenburg

Public safety is the first job of government and, as such, it will of course be a major consideration in the evolution of our city’s  nightlife policy. That said, I have also stressed the importance of making City government more collaborative and citizen­focused, so all stakeholders, including neighborhood residents and businesses, will have a seat at the table when these decisions are being made.

Mayoral Candidate F&B Preliminary Questionnaire: Regulatory Demands

Candidate's answers are listed in alphabetical order. If we have not published answers from a candidate, that is because we have not received a response from that candidate to our questionnaire. These pages will be updated in due course as we receive any additional responses.

If you would like to suggest followup questions, please email BACE@BACEchs.org.

3. Regulatory Demands

On July 1, 2013, City Council enacted the “Late Night Entertainment Establishment” (“LNEE”)
Ordinance. A LNEE is a business that:

1. Is not located in a structure that provides “accommodations”;
2. Is open after midnight;
3. Is licensed to allow on-premises consumption of alcoholic beverages; and
4. Is required to have a Class 7(a) business license.

State law requires that all establishments that serve liquor must also serve food. Class 7(a) and 7(b) essentially separates such establishments into two categories: nightclubs and restaurants. Class 7(a) defines night clubs as establishments “which derive thirty-five (35%) or more of their gross income from the sale of beer, wine and/or alcoholic beverages.”

Currently, a LNEE must submit an application to the LNEE Review Committee. The application must include, among other requirements, (1) a security management plan, (2) a waste management plan, and (3) an emergency action plan. The security management plan must describe with particularity how the LNEE will control crowds and underage drinking.
Once an application has been accepted, the LNEE Ordinance mandates the following
Operational Regulations upon all LNEEs:

a. Employ door security and indoor security. The required number of such staff is calculated according to a preset occupancy level.
b. Monitor both on-site and off-site parking areas to prevent them from becoming
“outdoor gathering areas”;
c. Identify off-site areas “used for parking” by patrons, and clear both said off-site
parking and on-site parking areas within thirty (30) minutes of closing;
d. “Employ crowd management techniques to assure that patrons are adequately
“disbursed [sic, “dispersed”] throughout the establishment”;
e. Maintain patron lines outdoors so that they do not block the sidewalk;
f. Shut doors and windows when playing music after 11:00. Even after doors and windows are shut, the LNEE violates the Ordinance if it generates noise that can be heard within fifty (50) feet of its entrance;
g. Waste Management: LNEEs are responsible for maintaining sidewalks abutting the
establishment.

Violation of any of these requirements results in a criminal citation in Livability Court.

Question 3:

Considering the aggregate of these regulations, what would you do – if anything – to ensure that all LNEE regulations are effective, and not overly burdensome or harmful to business success? Similarly, what would you do to ensure that LNEE regulations are enforced fairly?

Deerin

The food and beverage industry is a tremendous economic driver in Charleston. In 2015, the estimated hospitality tax revenue will be $13,807,500. It will be the responsibility of the next mayor to balance the needs of a growing industry with residents’ quality of life. Overly burdensome regulations can have a chilling affect on the industry. We need to look at creative ways to minimize burdens. The city and the food and beverage industry should be partners, not adversaries.  

Stavrinakis

Hospitality and the food and beverage industries are vital components of Charleston’s economy, including late night entertainment establishments (LNEE). And like any other economic driver in the city, I would not impose overly burdensome. We will review the regulations periodically to assess their effectiveness and whether they were meeting their goals and if those goals could be met in a less burdensome manner. I believe that effective enforcement of the LNEE regulations would include a visible police presence, an easily navigable process to respond to complaints, and a responsive city staff to work through any issues, seen or unforeseen. We will take very seriously maintaining order on our streets and to uphold the standard of excellence of Charleston’s neighborhoods. 

Tecklenburg

As I make clear in my comprehensive plan for Charleston, Our Quality of Life First, making livability and quality  of life job one starts with bringing our citizens, neighborhoods and local businesses into the City governing process  in a much more meaningful way, which will help us capture that demographic complexity, and develop a consensus on many quality­of­life issues before they become divisive. Moreover, I believe we have to recognize  that quality  of life is an issue that expresses  itself differently in different areas and populations of the city. In West Ashley, for example, strategic economic development of underperforming retail areas is a major livability issue, whereas in some other parts of the city, a pause in development is a more appropriate answer to the quality­of­life challenges those residents and neighborhoods are facing.

To learn more about my quality  of life proposals for each area of Charleston, please see the Stronger  Neighborhoods section  of my plan, as well as the more general Livability and Quality of Life section: 

http://www.tecklenburgformayor.com/part_v_stronger_neighborhoods http://www.tecklenburgformayor.com/part_i_livability_and_quality_of_life

Mayoral Candidate F&B Preliminary Questionnaire: Quality of Life

Candidate's answers are listed in alphabetical order. If we have not published answers from a candidate, that is because we have not received a response from that candidate to our questionnaire. These pages will be updated in due course as we receive any additional responses.

If you would like to suggest followup questions, please email BACE@BACEchs.org.

2. Quality of Life

A considerable portion of Charleston’s municipal code and policy discussion hinges upon maintaining “residential quality of life.” The Charleston residential population is rapidly diversifying, including demographics such as millennials, young professionals, and F&B professionals. Meanwhile, many poorer residents are experiencing cost of living increases. These various demographics may define the ideal “quality of life” differently with respect to expected levels of commercial activity, noise, and nightlife. 

Question 2: 


Considering the increasing demographic complexity of residential life, particularly on the Peninsula, how will you determine a definition of “quality of life” that represents the views and interests of all residents? 

Deerin

Residents want to live in Charleston because we are a fun, interesting, and diverse city. For Charleston to remain a vibrant city, it needs to work for all its residents. A high quality of life means residents can take advantage of Charleston’s vibrancy – that means residents can afford housing, can easily get around, and have opportunities to succeed. 

Affordable Housing: There are numerous strategies the city could use to make housing more affordable. One new strategy is the use of community land trusts. 

Under a community land trust, a local nonprofit acquires a parcel of land and pledges to use it for affordable housing. The nonprofit builds a home on the land and sells it to someone in need. The nonprofit, however, retains ownership of the land that the house sits on, leasing it to the homeowner for a designated time period, typically 99 years. Dividing the structure from the land has two important benefits: The land remains in the community’s possession, but still allows people to buy a home and earn equity on the structure.

Transit: A high quality of life means Charleston residents are spending time with their loved ones rather than sitting in traffic. 

In May, I announced a comprehensive transportation plan to address our transportation problems. My plan includes building additional sidewalks and bikeways to create more walkable neighborhoods, better connecting neighborhoods so residents don’t need to travel on crowded highways to go everywhere, and piloting a ferry service.  Residents need options! 

Opportunities to Succeed: A high quality of life means all of our children have the opportunity to succeed. I will not be the leader who steps back from one of our most critical community challenges by saying “it’s not my job.” There are meaningful steps we can take: There is a leadership void in some of our communities; the mayor can fill that void. We’ll create software coding academies - working with nonprofits, the private sector, and higher education – so our residents can benefit from all the great tech jobs here today and coming tomorrow. Charleston should also be the strongest possible partner in the Cradle to Career Collaborative. 

Stavrinakis

Quality of life to me must include quality high paying jobs, safe neighborhoods, safe and affordable workspace, improved traffic flow and expanded transit options. Ultimately in each area, we will have a process with heavy public input to help determine quality of life standards. Charleston is growing, and quality of life means different things to our growing population. Charleston’s housing opportunities should reflect the varied quality of life expectations that our diverse population deserves. There are some exciting opportunities on the Upper Peninsula and neck areas for residential and commercial expansion, where we can pursue the development of denser, walkable and bikeable communities that are also transit oriented. These compact and connected communities can provide millenials, F&B professionals, and other residents more affordable housing options that meet their quality of life needs. Quality of life would also means a healthy and diverse hospitality industry for residents and visitors.  As mayor, I will ensure effective growth management to ensure that Charleston a unique and livable city that provides options for everyone.

Tecklenburg

As I make clear in my comprehensive plan for Charleston, Our Quality of Life First, making livability and quality  of life job one starts with bringing our citizens, neighborhoods and local businesses into the City governing process  in a much more meaningful way, which will help us capture that demographic complexity, and develop a consensus on many quality­of­life issues before they become divisive. Moreover, I believe we have to recognize  that quality  of life is an issue that expresses  itself differently in different areas and populations of the city. In West Ashley, for example, strategic economic development of underperforming retail areas is a major livability issue, whereas in some other parts of the city, a pause in development is a more appropriate answer to the quality­of­life challenges those residents and neighborhoods are facing.

To learn more about my quality  of life proposals for each area of Charleston, please see the Stronger  Neighborhoods section  of my plan, as well as the more general Livability and Quality of Life section:

http://www.tecklenburgformayor.com/part_v_stronger_neighborhoods http://www.tecklenburgformayor.com/part_i_livability_and_quality_of_life

Mayoral Candidate F&B Preliminary Questionnaire: Parking

Candidate's answers are listed in alphabetical order. If we have not published answers from a candidate, that is because we have not received a response from that candidate to our questionnaire. These pages will be updated in due course as we receive any additional responses.

If you would like to suggest followup questions, please email BACE@BACEchs.org.

1. Parking

It goes without saying that parking is a scarce resource in downtown Charleston. Generally speaking, residential parking restrictions and enforcement are meant to achieve the laudable interests of convenience and quiet enjoyment of residential property. On the other hand, there are thousands of F&B employees who work downtown and, of course, need a safe, convenient, affordable place to park. Recently, there has been increasing demand in neighborhoods for stricter residential parking enforcement and expanded restrictions.

Question 1:

Considering all of the interests involved, what would you do to ensure that parking restrictions in residential areas are not enforced at the expense of F&B workers, and that in any case, F&B workers have adequate access to safe, convenient, affordable parking?

Deerin

In May, I put forth a comprehensive transportation plan to alleviate Charleston’s traffic woes. In September, I took it a step further with a parking plan. The high demand for parking spaces—both on the street and in garages—is a natural consequence of growth in a dynamic city that is unique and attractive to reside, visit, and work in. It needs to be addressed. Several sections of my plan specifically address the needs of food and beverage workers. 

Park and rides, with fast, modern buses, can help alleviate the parking problems of food and beverage workers. We should consider piloting a late night shuttle for food and beverage workers, since the late night schedules of food and beverage workers make it difficult to use most public transit and driving downtown means steep parking fees.

Stavrinakis

I’m aware of discussions to improve this problem and they include possible parking options near the Port and other park-and-ride alternatives that could be used for offsite hospitality parking at a free or reduced daily rate. The lots would be guarded, well lit, and open 24/7. 24-hour transportation to and from the lots would have to be a part of these discussions. This would cut down on the parking problem for residents as well as F&B workers. I support this idea and would do whatever I could to move it forward as mayor. In addition, the city needs to work with developers and the private sector in general to continue to find solutions to Charleston’s parking challenges. 

Tecklenburg

The basic problem  here is supply  and demand, and the only way we’re going to solve it is by easing pressure  on both sides of the equation.  First, to increase the supply  of available parking,  we must create new parking  outside  the Historic District, as part of a robust  “park and ride” system to get people from those new spaces to their final destination. On the demand side, I support the development of a reliable regional  public transit  system that people will want to use, based on the kind of hub­and­spokes rapid bus system that’s working well in other areas of the country. In addition, specifically with regard to the food and beverage industry, we should  ensure that discounted City parking garage passes are made available to F&B establishments that would like to secure them on behalf of their employees.

To learn more about my transportation plan, which includes public  transit  and a new parking  policy  for the City, please see the Transportation section  of my comprehensive plan for Charleston: http://www.tecklenburgformayor.com/part_ii_transportation_and_public_transit