Tourism Commission Concludes Current Weight and Temperature Policies are Working

Last week the Charleston Tourism Commission met to discuss two major issues pertaining to the carriage industry that were debated at the most recent subcommittee meetings. The first subcommittee meeting, held on February 14, was on temperature, and the second subcommittee meeting, held on February 21, was on weight.

First, let’s talk about the temperature subcommittee meeting. Anti-carriage activists have been advocating for months for the city to lower the thermometer that gauges the temperatures for the city which is currently situated on top of the Dock Street Theater on Church Street. This proposed change is not based on science, just a gut feeling that by lowering the thermometer you may get a higher temperature reading. Of course this is all intended to make it more difficult for carriage companies to do business.

Their goal? Lower the thermometer + higher temperature readings = less carriage tours.

But according to the city’s IT department, along with representatives from Earth Networks (the company who monitors and certifies the temperature readings), the thermometer is in the best location based off of science and the uncontrollable variables that come into play. Moving the thermometer would have no significant change in temperature readings and would make it harder to certify the readings.

Carriage companies have never been fundamentally opposed to moving the thermometer. Our goal is simply to have the thermometer in a location that allows the city to get the most accurate readings. Experts agree that the current location accomplishes that goal and moving it would only jeopardize these accurate readings.

Therefore, the subcommittee recommended no change in location for the thermometer.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Charleston C.A.R.E.S. extended an invitation for every tourism commission member to take a personal tour of the barns of our companies before the next full Tourism Commission meeting in April. The invitation was accepted and the tours will be conducted in the next two weeks.

In the weight subcommittee meeting a week later, commission members discussed the possibility of the city installing a scale in the market in order to weigh carriages before going on a tour. Again, this was a proposal made by the Charleston Animal Society based on a myth that the city isn’t enforcing its ordinance that a horse is limited to pulling three times its weight. During the meeting, the mathematics behind how much the carriages weigh combined with the passenger weight was discussed in depth. It was determined that even on a full carriage ride, it would be almost impossible for a carriage to exceed the city’s weight limit due to logistical issues associated with having 17 people over the FAA weight average of 185 pounds on a carriage at one time. Although carriage companies already fully comply with the city’s weight ordinance, it is common knowledge that draft horses are capable of pulling more than six times their own weight, leaving an even larger margin of error. These facts, coupled with practical concerns with installing a scale on the unlevel surface in the market area, led the commission to recommend not installing a sale. The committee agreed they were trying to come up with a solution in search of a problem.

The full Tourism Commission accepted both of these recommendations.

This was a significant victory for the carriage companies. Anti-carriage activists have been working for years to convince city officials to address these non-existent problems. Last week, the city officially put these issues to bed with the help of facts, science and some good old common sense.

Charleston CARES