UPDATE II: Were Snow Gates usage ever written into ordinance?

UPDATE II: The Argus has an update from the city attorney’s office on this topic. Funny how if we need to stick it to the citizenry, we write it down, but if the city is supposed to do something, it’s just a suggestion. WOW!

With all of the discussion over the last couple of years about snow gates and there hit and miss usage lately some have been wondering why the city doesn’t follow it’s own ordinances? There are plenty of rules on the books about mowing your grass and scooping your sidewalk so shouldn’t the city follow the ordinance requiring snow gate use? Sure, if there was one.


WE, THE UNDERSIGNED qualified voters of the municipality of Sioux Falls, the state of South Dakota, petition that the following ordinance be submitted to the voters of that municipality for their approval or rejection pursuant to law. The proposed ordinance in proper form is as follows: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA TO MANDATE THE USE OF SNOW GATES FOR REMOVING SNOW FROM PUBLIC STREETS: BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA: The City of Sioux Falls shall use snow gates or other devices to prevent snow, in an amount that prevents usual access, from being plowed or placed into driveways or their openings to public streets from and after November 1, 2013. This section shall cover city employees and contract employees. Snow gates are discretionary upon the declaration of a snow emergency on routes that have been declared snow emergency routes.

I did a search of the city charter (start at 96.120) and I couldn’t find the ordinance that requires the city to use them. When it was on the ballot, it said they would NOT be used on emergency snow routes AND the city had the discretion to NOT use them in deep or heavy snows, but the ordinance was clear, the city had to use them in all other cases.

So if the citizens passed this ordinance, why isn’t it on the books? This question has been asked of city officials, and apparently there has been some ‘scrambling’ to answer said question, but it seems law may NOT be on their side. As you can see below, when an ordinance is passed by the citizens, by charter, it needs to go on the books;

Section 8.03  Adoption of amendment.
   If a majority of the registered voters of the city voting upon a proposed charter amendment vote in favor of it, the amendment shall become effective at the time fixed in the amendment or, if no time is therein fixed, 30 days after the initial canvas certifying its adoption by the voters.

But for the sake of the argument, let’s say the city IS supposed to be following ordinance (even if it is mysteriously absent from charter). Why is the city and certain snow plow operators picking and choosing when they use them? I will admit, since the vote, they have used them on my block every time they plowed, and unless you are blind, it is pretty obvious when they are used. It usually only leaves about 1/3 of the snow of what used to left before there usage.

One of the ideas councilor Stehly has come up with is painting large numbers on the snow gate maintainers and a hotline that you can call in if Plow #__ did not use the gate.

Once again, the city is practicing ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ It’s time to follow their own ordinances, that is if they even bothered to add it to the city charter. Maybe this was a plan all along to have an ‘out’ in case a driveway is missed. In other communities that use them and have them in charter, if a driveway is missed, the city will come out and fix it. Could it be by NOT having this in ordinance the city can skirt it’s duties?

It will be interesting to hear the city attorney ‘Fiddle Faddle’ his way out of this one.


#1 Emoluments Clause on 02.13.17 at 8:53 pm

They also need to learn how to use the snow gates at the corners where the sidewalks jet out to the streets, as well…..

#2 LJL on 02.13.17 at 10:35 pm

Snowgates take all of my neighbors snow and gives it to me. Utter failure unless you live in the city core.

#3 Emoluments Clause on 02.14.17 at 3:29 pm

Does a pro snow gate advocacy make one a climate change denialist?……

Or does it merely accentuate the difference between weather and climate?

Only a snow plow driver truly knows, however, for only they are dependent or beholden upon the weather for employment and its political climate of often shoveled excrements….

#4 been there on 02.14.17 at 3:35 pm

Initiated ordinances do not amend the City Charter.

#5 The D@ily Spin on 02.14.17 at 4:01 pm

Court cases have challenged ordinances. In most cases they are barely amended but then reinstated. There are frequent charter changes to deliberately keep everyone confused. Huether’s (not the people’s) lawyer has the title City Attorney. He’ll tell you himself he represents the mayor. Huether chose him via Strong Mayor Charter to create as much complication and legal wrangling as possible. Look at this as a divorce. Both parties waste their assets on lawyers until there’s nothing left. It’s sad when a city doesn’t serve the people using a 20 person legal department to block complaints and prevent action.

For those not familiar with the City of Sioux Falls, it’s a socialist charter with one dictator who only spends your taxes on promoting private enterprise who reimburses with side favors. Anything coming from city hall is deception. The best lies come from the mayor and city attorney. If you value your individual rights, move to the United States somewhere outside from the sovereign nation with limits inside the city of Sioux Falls.

#6 anonymous on 02.14.17 at 4:15 pm

Remember, it was reported earlier that Public Works was short on snow plow operators.

Also, the City hires multiple subcontractors who use the snow gates.

In previous years, my neighborhood has rec’d good service, this year….not so much!

In fact, when they went through the last time, the snow gate operator did not drop the gate on my driveway. It appeared that the gate was stuck midway in the air.

I wanted to call this in, but without a visible number on the plow it makes it more difficult to report.

If the City can go to the trouble of delivering blades to schools across our community for Painting of the Plows, then certainly it should be no trouble to paint an identification number on each piece of equipment.

#7 l3wis on 02.14.17 at 5:05 pm

“Initiated ordinances do not amend the City Charter.”

Why Not? What’s the point if it is ‘just a suggestion’ by the voters? And shouldn’t it be somewhere?

#8 The D@ily Spin on 02.15.17 at 10:39 am

If you don’t play tennis or you’re an atheist, the Jesus Plow doesn’t use the gate for your driveway.

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