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City Talk

City Talk appears every Tuesday and Sunday - Email me. Send mail to 10 East 32nd St., Savannah, Ga. 31401.

CITY TALK: Longtime Charleston mayor shares lessons for Savannah

Former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley had the audience in the palm of his hand throughout his wise, fast-paced, even funny lecture at the Savannah Theatre last week, which was part of The Savannah Urbanism Series.

Riley’s talk was titled “Building Beauty in the Urban Environment,” but the presentation was also a primer in how to make practical decisions that serve residents in a historic city dealing with issues such as poverty and tourism.

CITY TALK: Jalapenos expands to Broughton

The new Jalapenos Mexican Grill at 7 E. Broughton St. is as comfortable and inexpensive as one would expect. With a half dozen locations in the Savannah area, Jalapenos has established a strong brand and great name recognition, and it’s good to see their concept come to Broughton.

CITY TALK: Lost wages, sales from storm will have lasting impacts

We’re well into the second week of recovery from Hurricane Matthew, and we’re hearing more and more stories of loss.

CITY TALK: What should be priorities of new Savannah city manager?

Rob Hernandez, Savannah’s new city manager, started work Oct. 10.

I suspect that he will long remember his first week on the job.

CITY TALK: It's gut check time for council on development

If you’re interested in issues related to downtown development and tourism, you need to watch the discussions about zoning at the Sept. 29 Savannah City Council meeting. At issue were two proposed hotels. Developers at a hotel at Tattnall and Liberty streets want to serve alcohol without food, and developers of a Drayton Street hotel want a so-called “bonus story” for including ground floor retail.

CITY TALK: Bay St. changes make it even harder for locals to get downtown

Savannah area residents are increasingly concerned about the degree to which tourism is dominating the downtown economy, but city officials have both short- and long-term plans to make it harder for locals to enjoy the Historic District.

First, let’s talk again about Bay Street.

CITY TALK: Can we dent violent crime if we allow blatant street crime?

On Sept. 24, the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department released an impassioned plea for an end to violent crime.

In apparent response to criticism of the police and elected officials for responding more vigorously to the murder of a white resident than to murders of black residents, the SCMPD statement detailed numerous efforts made in recent months to combat violence.

CITY TALK: Inside the numbers: Savannah poverty rate declined in 2014

Savannah’s high poverty rate became an important campaign issue in 2015, and I hope that we’ll continue to make poverty reduction one of our most important civic goals.

CITY TALK: Lewis' legacy leads to rich food future for Savannah

Born in Virginia in 1916, Edna Lewis first learned to cook on her family’s farm. Years later, she opened Café Nicholson in New York City, which set her on the path to becoming one of the most influential chefs in American history.

CITY TALK: Parking on Bay is a bonus, not a plague

Despite strong opposition from the public, which was detailed in a recent article by reporter Eric Curl, city officials have temporarily removed parking on the south side of Bay Street from East Broad Street to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. There is no doubt that the temporary measure will result in higher traffic speeds and bring fast-moving cars closer to pedestrians on the sidewalk.

CITY TALK: Will city act to balance residential, tourism needs?

We have plenty of room for more tourists, and they’re on the way. And as more tourists come to Savannah, we are almost certain to hear growing concerns about the impacts of “too much tourism.” If we want to have a more balanced downtown economy, our best bet is to increase residential density, which will require some combination of specific policy changes.

The Fairfield Inn under construction on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

CITY TALK: 15 years later, The Sentient Bean is still nurturing community

From 6-9 p.m. Thursday, The Sentient Bean at 13 E. Park Ave. will celebrate 15 years. September 2001 wasn’t the best time to launch a small business, but entrepreneurs have no control over world events. In that month, I wrote columns about the opening of both the Bean and Wright Square Café – two locally owned businesses that have delighted many thousands of customers over the years.

CITY TALK: Will new policies impact longstanding crime problems?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to diagnose the problems, and I continue to be amazed that Savannah has tolerated such blatant criminality for so long. Given that the street-level crime so often contributes to violence and constantly degrades the neighborhood fabric, you’d think someone in a position of power would finally say, “Enough!”

CITY TALK: Strong job growth continued in July

July can be a tricky month for employment. Many workers in the education sector might be between jobs, while many college students and recent high school grads might still be searching for hard-to-find summer gigs.

CITY TALK: New seafood restaurant, rolled ice cream on Broughton

The Savannah Seafood Shack and Below Zero Rolled Ice Cream opened last month at 116 E. Broughton St. in the space that had been occupied for many years by the downtown Sakura.

CITY TALK: New ordinances will help entrepreneurs

Last week brought some welcome news for some Savannah entrepreneurs.

Ending years of wrangling and lengthy bureaucratic delays, Savannah city council approved new alcohol and food truck ordinances at last week’s meeting.

CITY TALK: What is a 'living wage' in Savannah?

Throughout last year’s city elections and into 2016, we’ve seen considerable public debate about prevailing wages in Savannah, especially in the leisure and hospitality sector.

CITY TALK: New city manager seems a good fit

Nothing is official, but Savannah should have a new city manager on the job by early October.

If you follow the news, you already know that Mayor Eddie DeLoach and members of City Council announced last week their intention to hire Rob Hernandez, who has diverse work experience in Broward County, Fla., Fulton County, Ga. and other places.

CITY TALK: Checking out the new Broughton St. heavyweight H&M

As I wandered for the first time into H&M at 240 W. Broughton St., I was immediately struck by the number of shoppers. More than a dozen people were waiting in line at the first floor registers.
Customers line up for the opening of H&M on West Broughton Street. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

CITY TALK: Search for city manager winds down

Members of Savannah City Council met last week with four prospective candidates for city manager. If the number had been whittled to three, the mayor and aldermen would have been required to release the finalists’ names.