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City Council, April 24

Council looking to ban skateboarding in a wider area
Public hearing likely on lane closure on road around Hampton Park
Warwick Jones

Considering a major amendment to the ordinance governing skateboarding in the City was on the agenda, we expected skateboarders to turn out en masse to express their feelings at last night’s Council meeting. But it didn’t happen. Even the usual crowd of commentators was diminished with Marc Knapp doing his citizen duty at Camp Lejeune.

Council members were divided over the skateboard ordinance amendment – to expand the area where skateboarding is prohibited on the Peninsula. Presently it is banned on any area that is zoned Commercial or under a School District Overlay. The new Ordinance would expand the restricted area to a much wider area, which can be seen by pressing Download file

Police Chief Mullen spoke of the difficulty in enforcing the present ordinance. Many College of Charleston students were unaware of the restrictions and the boundaries of the restricted areas. Presumably, the new restricted area will make his task easier. Some Council members did not like the fact that an ordinance was directed at skateboarders. Were they any different to bike riders? Shouldn’t they both be subject to the same rules? Council member Lewis suggested that the problem was not skateboards but the riders. They ignored the rules of the road and were rude to those who objected to their actions, an observation that has been made by many, including this writer.

Before the vote was taken, Mayor Riley said that he was uneasy about the proposed amendment but would vote for it. He wanted to take it to the next stage and allow a public hearing on the matter. Council approved the amendment on its first reading with Council members White, Alexander, Riedel and Gregorie voting against it.

The issue of closing a traffic lane on the Mary Murray Drive around Hampton Park to allow only pedestrian and bike traffic was brought up by a resident of Wagener Terrace. He was most unhappy that such a move was contemplated. The road was a major conduit to traffic and the closure of one lane could cause tie ups, and an inconvenient diversion to Rutledge Avenue. It was also dangerous to have traffic so close to pedestrians and bikers. He also noted that it was wrong to assume the neighborhood was for it. The Neighborhood Association took a vote at a recent meeting on the issue, with 17 for and 8 against. But considering the number of residents that lived in the area and the number of people that use the road (3000 people live north of the park), this vote was not truly representative.

Council members and the Mayor seemed to agree with the citizen, at least that the issue needed more airing. Council member Lewis said there should be a public hearing and the Mayor agreed. Council member Wilson asked whether a traffic study had been done. If it were an old one, then another should be done.

Others items before Council were:

  1. An addition to Chapter 17 of the City Code. Section 17-123 is to be inserted and which relates to News Racks. The addition runs to about 8 pages and deals with definitions, placement, size, nature and penalties. Council agreed unanimously with the insertion with no discussion.
  2. The creation a new judicial position - Administrative Judge. The appointee will report to the Chief Judge of the Municipal Court and oversee the judicial operations of the court, preside over various terms and sessions of Court, Jury and non- jury matters etc. Council unanimously agreed to make Ms. Alesia Rico Flores an Associate Judge and appoint her to the new position when the ordinance is fully ratified. Mayor Riley spoke highly of Ms. Flores experience as a lawyer and prosecutor.
  3. A presentation by Police Chief Mullen entitled “ComStat update”. It was a power point presentation in which the type was too small to read. But notwithstanding, the message got across very clearly - the Police were making much of the new computer systems to analyze crime statistics. Chief Mullen described what the Teams in the City were doing and the nature of the data being collected. Hot spots were being identified and solutions sought. Importantly, the police were trying to use data to identify patterns and predict likely increases in violations. He got a lot of questions from Council members and all were accompanied with approval and applause.
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