From The Blog

KICA’s Commercial Pass Office Performs Essential Community Functions

Part of Kiawah’s charm is the privacy members are able to maintain without open access to the island. On Kiawah, all commercial and island employee access must be approved by KICA’s Security Department through its Commercial Pass Office.

The pass office performs three essential functions for members:

  • Verifies valid documentation (driver’s licenses, registration and insurance information) for every commercial service vehicle entering the island,
  • Authorizes access for service providers through the issuance of passes and decals,
  • And collects commercial access fees, which cover about 30% of the association’s annual reserve income.

The commercial pass office is managed by service experience manager Kim Grafing, under the supervision of KICA’s director of Security, Mark Ruppel. Between Kim and her two colleagues, the pass office boasts more than 50 years of combined KICA experience. Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the team acts as the first contact for many commercial customers, answering questions and giving them insight into how the island functions. (When the pass office is closed, the commercial access responsibilities shift to the gate team.)

This can be a big job; in March, KICA’s team issued just over 3,200 commercial passes, about 150 per business day. They also issued nearly 500 commercial decals for contractors with more sustained business on the island, and 111 island employee passes and decals. Each transaction involves verifying the work site address, the validity of the driver’s license, registration, and insurance details. When documents are incomplete or expired, the team must deny access. Conflicts can arise in these situations, as service providers are understandably eager to complete their tasks. However, unlike in public communities with open access, Kiawah is made safer by this strict verification process.

While the commercial pass office’s services for providers are important, the office also serves an important role in funding island infrastructure, through the collection of commercial access fees.

Commercial access fees pay for the maintenance and repair of island roadways and infrastructure. In 2023, commercial access fees accounted for 30% of the $7.3 million the association put into its reserve fund, more than the amount paid by members through their assessments. Without these fees, members would need to fund more of the island’s infrastructure replacement themselves. To protect members from incurring this expense, no commercial vehicles may be authorized under member guest passes.