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President's Message - Dec. 11, 2023

From the President:


It was a busy time last week for residents and DNA Board members.  On December 5, we had an excellent turnout of residents attending the Tourism Advisory Council to listen to the trolley companies respond to our previous presentation on uncontrolled tourism.  (Here is a photo of the standing-room-only crowd.)  


The board would like to thank all of you who attended this meeting as this demonstration of support and solidarity on tourism issues shows the city and industry that residents are serious about making significant changes.  The business owners' presentation proposed the use of directional speakers for trolleys in lieu of in-ear technology as well as having the tour companies work together on reducing trolley volume in the squares.  One obvious disconnect, from my perspective, is that the presentation detailed the number of people the trolleys handle each day which, according to the presenters, result in a reduction in cars on the street.  This is a walking town, many tourists won't drive cars and instead will walk to their destinations.  We are not focused on the number of tourists, only on the large number of trolleys driving on our streets. This trolley number is in great need of being reduced.  We are open to listening to their proposals, but we are determined to achieve effective change. Residents have suffered enough from an unmanaged tourist industry.  You can see the trolley businesses' presentation here.


On Thursday, December 7, the city council had its first reading of the ordinance to require the Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) to hold public hearings on any zoning request that would subdivide or recombine a property.  Currently, these requests are approved by the MPC staff without any public input or knowledge.  Board members have been working on getting this changed for the past year.  We would like to thank the many of you who sent in messages in support of this ordinance to the Clerk of the Council.  Unfortunately, there was some opposition to this change that prevented its final passage.  Final approval should come at the next council meeting.  (Opposition was from a member of the MPC who stated that the commission should have been briefed on the requested changes. Separately, a member of the real estate industry opposed the ordinance.  The result was that the Council asked only for the MPC to be briefed on the changes.)  I will provide updates as this review progresses.


Lastly, on December 9, the 48th Annual Holiday Tour of Homes and Inns was held.  By all accounts, this was a huge success that could not have happened without the support of all of you.  From the homeowners who graciously opened their homes to the 200+ volunteer docents who supported the effort, not to mention our ticket buyers.  I spoke with many of the guests attending the tour, and they were extremely pleased with the homes and information provided by the docents.  As someone who has lived with the chairperson of this annual event for the past two years, I can attest to the herculean effort needed to make this event a success.  Thank you, Holiday Tour Chair, Joyce McDonald, for all the hard work, care, and creativity that went into the event. The Board would like to thank the committee who supported Joyce.  Our appreciation to Rhonda Pulte, Kathleen Brenneman, Kathy Virant, Lisa Kanda, and Birgit and Kurt Reiff.


As you can see it was a busy week.  This will be the last weekly newsletter sent out until the New Year.  The board will still be attending meetings and monitoring those issues that impact our quality of life and will provide updates as needed.


We hope that each of you has a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year.


David McDonald


President

Downtown Neighborhood Association Savannah, GA Inc.


 

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