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President's Message - May 13, 2024


May 13, 2024   


From the President:


First:  We hope all of you Mothers had a Happy Mother’s Day yesterday.


Last week we all had our first success as it relates to changes in tourism that we had requested from the city. I had planned on writing about that success today but thought I would use the excellent explanation from Nancy Radke instead.  Many of you may recall that it was Nancy's team that created the data and presentations that showed the depth and consistency of over-tourism in our community.


Here is what Washington Ward Captain Nance Radke shared with her Ward:



Fourteen months of data collection, photographic and audio documentation, PowerPoint presentations, and behind the scenes diplomacy on the part of our DNA (Downtown Neighborhood Association) representatives paid off yesterday (Thursday, April 9) when City Council unanimously approved (9-0) a new noise ordinance for vehicular tours.


Quiet Technology Required

For years now, open air vehicles with amplified narration have been out of compliance with the City's noise ordinances. The new ordinance, effective May 9, 2024, is aimed at reducing amplified sound emanating from the vehicles through the use of quiet technology such as in-ear devices or directional speakers.


Sound Cushion Allowed

In exchange, the trolley companies requested that a provision in Georgia law be included allowing that sound should not be heard (after devices are installed) more than 25-feet from the vehicles. The DNA provided evidence of the  effect this would have on homes and businesses along our tight one-way streets and a reduced 15-foot allowance was written into the ordinance. This allowance helps code enforcement, but when the quiet technology is implemented it should eliminate or mitigate sound escaping from the vehicles.


Implementation Schedule Established

  • Each tour vehicle company will select the technology they wish to use. The implementation schedule is:

  • 35% of its fleet shall achieve compliance within 12 months of the effective date of this ordinance.

  • 75% of its fleet shall achieve compliance within 24 months of the effective date of this ordinance.

  • 100% of its fleet shall achieve compliance within 36 months of the effective date of this ordinance.

  • Any open-air trolley or open-air shuttle tour service owner and/or operator not registered with the City upon the effective date of this ordinance shall ensure full compliance with this section prior to commencing operation within the City's jurisdictional limits.

Continued Vigilance and Collaboration

Mayor Johnson asked the City Manager to devise an emblem that will be affixed to each vehicle once it becomes compliant. In the meantime, the DNA will continue to work with the trolley companies to encourage them to educate their employees about the new ordinance and request that they tone down the current level of narration volume in certain vehicles.

Ultimately collaboration won the day thanks to the hard work of our DNA advocates (above), Susan Broker and Rachel Buck (Tourism, Film and Events), Mayor Van Johnson, City Manager Jay Melder, and executives from the three trolley companies.


More to Come

After the ordinance passed, Mayor Johnson declared that it is the first of more to come. Up next, will be the bicycle ordinance that was written and set aside until after last fall's election.


Currently, a TAC (Tourism Advisory Committee) task force made up of four TAC members, Melinda Allen, Jason Combs, Vaughnette Goode-Walker, and Charlie Brazil, are meeting with day and night walking tour representatives to craft a new walking tour ordinance. Other groups that will be meeting with the task force to craft new ordinances are peddle pubs and Segway tours. The DNA has provided Melinda and Jason, who represent the interests of residents, with great PowerPoint presentations to back up their case for improvements to the ordinances on behalf of residents and businesses in the Landmark Historic District.


It doesn't stop there because the DNA is working on several other important initiatives which you will be learning about in the weeks and months ahead. Thanks to all who have helped compile data at the Visitors' Center in March and photographic and video evidence all around town.


Remember, making meaningful change is a marathon and not a sprint. Your help will continue to be needed and appreciated.




In other News:


A reminder that this is the last week for early voting for the May 21 Chatham County Primary.


Also please RSVP for the Annual Meeting this Thursday, May 16 at 5:30 pm.  Your opportunity to RSVP ends at midnight tonight. Please ensure that your membership is active as we will not be able to process any payments at the event. More information was recently sent to you via email.


Last, as many of you know, there is a great deal of discussion underway with the city concerning the Civic Center and Johnny Mercer Theatre. A survey is circulating so that the DNA can better understand the members desires for this property. Please take the time to let us know where you stand on this important issue.


David McDonald


Downtown Neighborhood Association Savannah, GA Inc.


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