Entries Tagged 'Chamber of Commerce' ↓

Sioux Falls Chamber Advocate concerned about NOT allowing street vacations

You can watch the 4+ hour council meeting above.

The Chamber Advocate uses some strong language when it comes to street vacations;

Resolution to vacate portions of S. Elmwood Ave to facilitate expansion of Lifescape parking fails

One of the longest public input periods and council debates in recent years led to a vote to not allow a requested street vacation at the Tuesday, Feb. 12 city council meeting. The decision may also increase uncertainty for future business expansion and development in Sioux Falls.

I was actually surprised that the Chair, Mayor TenHaken, didn’t implement a rule that the past chair used to do by limiting repetitive input. I counted well over 20 people who said the same exact thing “I’m a LifeScape employee concerned about the safety of the children.” While I support public input at all levels and think everyone has a right to be heard, I think after hearing it 4 times the chair should have asked the crowd to stand if they were going to testify they were employees of Lifescape that were concerned about the safety of the children. You could have easily shaved off an hour of testimony and it would have probably had a bigger impact seeing 30 people standing. I believe the chair allowed the repetitive comments because he was on their side.

Leadership of LifeScape, a non-profit serving children with disabilities, requested the partial vacation and street closures of portions of S. Elmwood Street. The street closure would facilitate planned expansion and alleviate on-street parking in other parts of the neighborhood.

The only evidence LifeScape provided was that they would gain about 15 new parking spots for employees and visitors for closing the street. I was disappointed that they provided NO evidence that the closure would make drop offs safer. If they would have, I think the vacation would have been justified.

City staff summarized their review of utility easements, traffic counts and projected traffic models. City traffic projections suggested that as LifeScape grows, there is likely to be increased on-street parking in the area if no additional parking is provided. Past right of way vacations in other areas for similar purposes were shown to have reduced traffic and on-street parking in neighborhoods. City staff recommended vacating the street as requested by LifeScape.

The only ‘growth’ LifeScape has committed to was building a parking lot for their staff since their lease was cancelled with the VA. There was ZERO discussion of expanding the actual facility.

LifeScape requested vacation of the right of way in order to add 148 on-site parking stalls. Numerous LifeScape staff and employees stressed the planned parking and expansion would facilitate student safety for those they serve.

Like I already stated, they continued to talk about how it would make it safer for the kids but never presented a plan as to how that would work. They did talk about staff crossing the street, but as I understand it, they try to drop off students at the door. Another fallacy is that closing the street and stopping street parking makes it safer. Actually street parking makes the street narrower which has been proven to make the area safer because cars go at a slower speed. By closing Elmwood, you would only increase traffic on streets surrounding LifeScape, and with employees not parking on those streets anymore, the speeds would increase. You could argue that the street closure actually makes the neighborhood less safe. Of course the Chamber, in all of their wisdom argues the exact opposite;

Councilors and public testifiers highlighted that irrespective of the council vote, the parking lot as proposed will be put expanded as LifeScape owns the property. The on-street parking would be reduced if the street vacation was approved. Likewise, street vacation will result in added safety for students, not only for children/students but for all staff and neighborhood residents.

The period for public testimony was very long, with nearly 40 proponents and opponents testifying on differing aspects of the project.

This was actually the best thing that came out of the night, public engagement by people who don’t normally engage their government (even though many of them were paid or forced to be there. I wonder if we will see them testify for other street vacations that don’t affect their employment?)

Councilors Selberg, Neitzert, Soehl, Kiley, and Erickson advocated for the street vacation – highlighting the importance of Lifescape in the community and the need Lifescape fills for students and families.

The Chamber has a long history of ‘Praising Councilors’ and shaming the ones that didn’t vote their way. I’m not sure the 5 that voted for this deserve praise. Voting to give away taxpayer property, a street that the public gets usage out of, to a private organization while telling it’s residents who live in the neighborhood to go to Hell goes against the duties of a city councilor. They are an elected representative of the taxpayers of this community. They should be looking out for OUR interests first. Councilor Neitzert made the comment that as a city councilor he needs to make decisions on what is best for the ‘city’. While their is some truth in that statement, he fails to understand who makes up this ‘city’. It’s residents who hold these neighborhoods together. When was the last time you saw a local non-profit or business donate to a neighborhood for it’s preservation instead of it’s destruction? I know that All Saints donated to the neighborhood after their expansion, which I felt was different because they owned the land they expanded on that was serving NO public good. And LifeScape is being afforded the exact same right. They are able to build a parking lot on the land they own, no one is stopping them from that. I am just puzzled how they lost Tuesday night?

Ultimately the council voted not to approve the street vacation as proposed on a 5 yes to 3 no vote. Street vacations require a super majority, hence it would have required 6 voting yes to pass.

The Chamber, economic development groups, and development companies in Sioux Falls monitored the process closely. Future business expansion and investment in core neighborhoods are anticipated lead to requests for street vacations in the future as the city grows.

This final statement while TRUE, is also extremely misleading and threatening. On one hand they are claiming they are investing in these neighborhoods. Quite the opposite, they are investing in their own business while divesting established neighborhoods, by eliminating affordable housing, decreasing personal home values while paving and institutionalizing established CORE neighborhoods. It’s all smoke and mirrors and it’s disgusting to watch our Chamber threaten elected officials in this manner. It’s also disgusting to watch 5 of the ‘praised ones’ roll over for the Chamber.

Sioux Falls Chamber Advocate publishes Thune’s comments on 5G

Well you know why I call him ‘Ironic Johnny Thune-Bag;

Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, was a featured speaker at an Axios-hosted event about innovation in America’s cities. Thune discussed South Dakota’s role in helping America win the race to 5G mobile broadband technology and his efforts to spur technology, spectrum availability, and innovation by way of legislative initiatives like his MOBILE NOW Act, which became law in 2018, STREAMLINE Small Cell Deployment Act, and AV START Act.

Who are we ‘racing’ against? All I see is the telecoms battling it out to see who can produce this technology the fastest, but the benefits to consumers is questionable. We already know that ethernet is 100x faster than any wi-fi connection (as well as safer, health, data security, etc.). So why the rush? Thune tries to explain that;

South Dakota Leadership:

“What I hope to do is to be able to see rural areas benefit from [5G] as well,” said Thune. “I think a lot of it will have to do with the individual communities … We have a new, young mayor in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who is very aggressively working to make sure that Sioux Falls and that South Dakota is on the map when it comes to fifth generation technology, looking at ways to lower barriers and impediments to that type of investment, and seeking partners who will help join in that effort.”

Mayor TenHaken hasn’t worked ‘aggressively’ – he was forced into this through the new FCC rules that now are being challenged in Federal court. Our own city attorney has confessed that the city had NO CHOICE but to go along with Federal guidelines. That can be done with little effort. The mayor, his administration and the city council rolled over like a dog.

“I think the companies that are going to invest in this are going to be looking for those cities and states that have a progressive view of how we get there and make it easier, not harder to develop that. Like I said, the city of Sioux Falls is really leading on that. Our municipal league in South Dakota has come up with a sort of a standard ordinance that municipalities can adopt that again would enable investment and build-out. I think we have to make it easier, not harder when it comes to the role that governments play if we want to see this really develop quickly.”

The National League of Cities has come out against the 5G rollout, not because they are opposed to the new technology but because the Feds are overstepping their authority of local control and what cities can do to regulate 5G and what fees they can charge.

“In a state like South Dakota, we have a lot of rural telephone cooperatives and smaller companies that are making investments, and there are programs that are available that provide incentives for them to do that. We have a company called Golden West Telecom in western South Dakota, which is where I’m from, and they’ve done a great job – have figured out how to leverage some of the federal opportunities that are available, and they’ve built out a lot and are continuing to build out, and we want to incentivize that.”

When Thune talks about ‘leveraging’ federal opportunities, what he is saying is TAKING ADVANTAGE. One of the reasons rural communities have poor cell service is because many of those towns asked to be fairly compensated for using taxpayer properties (like water towers) for antenna usage, and many of the telecoms refused to pay fair compensation.

Innovation’s effect on industries:

“I mean, the productivity gains are going to be enormous in so many sectors of the economy – agriculture of course being one that’s important in our state, but telemedicine, telehealth, I mean, that has life-saving opportunities. You heard about ‘smart cities’ and reducing congestion – you know, the amount of pollutants we’re putting into the environment. There are some enormous gains that are out there for us, but it is going to take a competitive, free market approach to this where everybody is in there trying to do their best to win the race.”

Isn’t it IRONIC that Thune talks about the ‘health benefits’ of employing 5G while the telecoms asked the FCC to take out the health effects of 5G when it comes to regulation. So which is it John? 5G will make us safer and healthier? We don’t know because the industry refuses to do either extensive studies or chooses to hide them. If you want to argue about the health benefits of 5G, require health studies in the regulation of this technology, or better yet, STFU.

Chamber announces Sioux Falls new population numbers

I wonder how many of the 4,700 were newborns?

Upon another record year of construction, strong job growth, and improvements within our community’s quality of life standards, Sioux Falls continues to see its population increase. The population of Sioux Falls now is estimated at 183,200, a growth of 4,700 people over the last year.

On an annual basis, Planning and Building Services develops year-end populations estimates; the annual July population estimates are developed by the U.S. Census Bureau. Sioux Falls has averaged a 3,200-person annual increase for more than ten years.

This 4,700 person increase over the past 12 months means the city is growing at a rate of 2.6 percent. Last year, the city grew by 5,200 persons, a 3.0 percent growth rate. Since January 1, 2000, Sioux Falls has seen a 59,000-person increase in our population. The last Census estimate (July 2016) showed a 2,700-person, 1.6 percent increase. By 2025, the population of Sioux Falls is projected to be 202,000.

Vote the Opposite of the Chamber on Amendments

It usually a good idea to VOTE the exact opposite of the Chamber;

Join the Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce in voting:

NO on Amendment W
YES on Amendment Z
YES on Measure 25

No Thanks. VOTE YES on W and No on everything else. These laws are about protecting individual citizens NOT big business.

Sioux Falls City Council Elect Janet Brekke on Chamber Advocate Podcast

Janet was the latest guest on the program. She talks about her future goals as a council member. LISTEN HERE.

Sioux Falls Chamber Advocate Podcast

Did you know they have a podcast? Public Policy Director Debra Owen is the host.

LISTEN HERE.

Sioux Falls City Council not told about important events

So yesterday the Chamber of Commerce sends out notices of events. Two important events pop up;

May 7, Groundbreaking of Downtown Parking Ramp &

May 10, Administration Building Ribbon Cutting

I asked 3 city councilors today if they knew about the obvious last minute events before Mike leaves office. None of them had heard anything before I told them.

Keeping it transparent all the way to the end.

No wonder the mayor didn’t want to take questions at Dem Forum today. Oh, but one lady did ask one after the mayor said the per capita debt in SF is lower then the rest of the region. This lady yells out quickly, “What is that amount?” And Mike replies, “I don’t know.”

May 15th can’t come soon enough.

Sioux Falls Chamber supports the release of Events Center siding report

Like most of the city council and most citizens, the Chamber thinks it is a good idea to release that report;

One final issue that lingers is whether the siding, as it exists, is doing its job and protecting the building as it should. While city professionals noted that there are no structural threats to the building, the Council is asking for confirmation from an external source. We would like to see the administration provide the requested confirmation to put the issue of structural integrity to rest. It appears the Council will continue this discussion at a future date.

While I agree the report should be released, I’m afraid that it probably wasn’t a ‘complete’ report that really shines a light on what is truly going on with the siding. As I have told people in the past, I could care less what the building looks like, it is what it is, my primary concern is whether the siding is ‘weather proof’ enough that the holes and open seams in the siding are not causing damage underneath.

I think to be proactive in future maintenance of the building the council should request their OWN report from an outside source that has no connections with Mortenson or other sub contractors who worked on the project. And even if that report costs up to $60K, it is still worth the ounce of prevention. If there are issues, we can budget for the maintenance in the future. Transparency, at least this time, will save taxpayers money.

I know that Rex Rolfing and Mayor Huether think that nobody is ‘talking about it’ but I would beg to differ. Denial is a tragic thing.

This is a good start, but can you fill in the blanks?

I guess the CVB has been listening to my requests for economic impact of the Events Center and other entertainment venues in the city;

“When there’s something big going on in town, people are at gas stations, filling up their cars to drive home.  They’re eating in the restaurants.  They’re shopping all over the town,” Schmidt said.

All of this made for a lucrative 2016.  Schmidt says concerts, plays, sporting events, conventions — you name it — brought nearly $500 million into the city.

Hey this is great, but without details, it’s just all fluff. I would like to see the formula the CVB used to come to these conclusions, I would also not only like to see the sales figures of the EC but of all the entertainment venues. We own, operate, take care of and pay the mortgages of these facilities, we have a right to see the numbers.

This story was just a teaser that leaves me with more questions.

Odds & Ends; Sutton the Liberal? Hole in One & the ‘appearance’ of diversity

Just some misc crap that has been piling up;

Billie Sutton is a liberal? LOL!

It seems Pitty knows the difference between liberals and moderates like he knows the difference between frozen and fresh fish;

When the state Democrat organization is controlled by the hard liberal left, it’s going to be hard for Billie Sutton to convince anyone that a Democrat ran State Goverment would be in their best interest.

Part of the problem with the SD Democratic Party is the fact that NO liberals, or heck even moderate progressives exist in the party’s leadership anymore. Sutton has consistently voted with the Republicans on tax increases and other legislation, instead of standing up to them. I would almost classify him as a right leaning moderate, kind of a fake Democrat and certainly not a liberal. Pitty is right about one thing, electing Sutton as Governor wouldn’t be much different then having a Dauguard Part II.

Is Sioux Falls looking for a new golf management company?

For several years (over 20?) Dakota Golf Management has managed our city courses (Elmwood, Kuehn Park and Prairie Green). The contract runs dry or up for renewal next year(?). Great Life has sparked interest in managing the courses, and other management companies have also expressed interest. The city (Parks Department) has also expressed interest in opening up the RFQ process.

While this is all just fine and dandy, with all the fine 6-figure a year wages paid towards management in the parks department, the task of picking a new golf management company was just too hard of a task for Kernal Korn Kearney and crew, they are hiring a private consultant to help them pick the new management company. I guess math is hard for parks people, who knew?

Was the SF Chamber planning a ‘diversity’ council to change the ‘perception’ of how Sioux Falls treats minorities?

Not sure, because it has either been shelved, terminated or put on hold. Apparently, our new Chamber director, Jason Ball, thought it may be a good idea for the Chamber to head up a diversity council. Hey, it IS a good idea! The problem? Rumor has it, it wasn’t created to actually help minorities get a head in the community, it was created to change the ‘perception’ of how minorities are being treated in Sioux Falls. Once some minority leaders in the community found out the Chamber was planning such a council, they offered to help. The problem? They were ‘too’ minority colored for the almost 99% white male council that was picked by Mr. Ball. So before the rainbow colored poo-poo hit the fan, Jason decided to put the project on hold. Good idea, we wouldn’t want the perception about Gingers in community leadership positions to have their reputations tarnished.