Worsening flooding is one example of the observable impacts of climate change | File photo by Jonathan Boneck

The Lowcountry got a little more national spotlight today after The New York Times reported about city leadership and development in the face of increasing impacts of climate change, from sunny day flooding to burbling groundwater.

They even shouted out a particular publication’s weekly crane count (14 cranes this week y’all).

We aren’t sure about the once-per-week claim the writer makes about sunny day floods, because there’s a big difference in flooding days depending on whether your definition is a seven-foot tide, or a considerably rarer eight-foot tide. But the gist is there; the city has seen growing rates of tidal flooding, with downtown streets disappearing beneath the water on an increasing basis and the prevalence of these challenges would make development hard on anyone.

Yet Charleston’s population grew 35% from 2010 to 2020, the report says, climbing to about 150,000 total. And the region as a whole has grown with it, with developments like Park Circle and Nexton being prime examples. In addition, developers added roughly 7,700 multifamily apartments in the two years leading up to the pandemic, and 6,000 more were slated for 2020. 

The city is no stranger to water, and the last few years have seen Charleston’s leaders grapple with solutions — the most prominent proposal being the $1.1 billion sea wall. But other measures are impactful too, like the first-of-its-kind zoning law outlined in the city’s 10-year plan that forbids development in the city’s low-lying and at-risk areas.

“Everyone’s very mindful of it — it’s top of mind in decision-making processes,” former City Council member Gary White said in the Times report.

The Times continues by comparing Charleston to other coastal cities like Boston and a few others in South Florida, which despite the pandemic and increasingly devastating impacts of climate change, have continued to grow.

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