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.
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.