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.
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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.
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?
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.
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.
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: