Last week’s new weekly feature, Crane Count, caught some readers’ attention as a clever way to highlight the abundance of development on the peninsula. In one simple graphic, it’s now easy to see where cranes live. Last week, there were 17 in eight locations. This week, there are two more.

This crane count is more than a mere indicator. It also reflects how construction on the peninsula is tilted more to developers than residents. Would you be surprised to learn that the City of Charleston, when asked, couldn’t tell us where cranes are? That’s because there is no permit required for developers to share where they’re going to operate cranes as they erect more and more buildings, hotels and apartments in what seems to be an ever-increasing race to make a concrete jungle out of the peninsula.

“Huh? No permit?” you may wonder. How would city fathers know where cranes were in the event of a hurricane or a storm so they could make sure they were secure? They wouldn’t, other than looking up high in the sky. 

We encourage the city to explore and approve a required permitting process for cranes to be erected in the city. Not only would this be a way for the city to monitor what’s happening across the community, but it could provide a new stream of hundreds of thousands of dollars that could be steered toward something that’s really needed: affordable housing.

If developers are going to keep building apartments, hotels and office space with seemingly reckless abandon, a weekly crane permitting fee paid by hedge funds and out-of-town investors would help to mitigate overdevelopment and fund more affordable housing units on the peninsula. In turn, teachers, police officers, firefighters, restaurant workers and others could actually afford to live in Charleston. 

We hear the city is looking into crane permitting. Let’s make it happen, city council, and use the money to build more affordable housing units scattered across the peninsula. 

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