What does the (organization) Downtown Sioux Falls do?

I had this question recently asked of me, since I work at a DT business. They also asked if we had a membership. I said we canceled our membership a few years back for a number of reasons. One of the main reasons was they moved most of the festivals to 4th and Phillips, so we couldn’t put a booth in front of our store, besides the fee and commission DTSF would charge on the booth wasn’t profitable. Secondly, when we asked DTSF what they ‘do’ for the membership fee they said besides being listed in their magazine, they swept the sidewalks and watered plants (even though that stuff is city owned and will have to be maintained by the city anyway).

The inquirer was wondering why most of the DT restaurants were listed in their magazine and not ours. I said, they basically punish you for be not being a member by not listing you, which is silly on a couple of levels;

1) It makes DTSF and the magazine look inaccurate, people visiting SF from another city may be following the map in the magazine and asking themselves why certain restaurants are not listed.

2) We pay a membership fee to DTSF whether we want to or not. DT businesses pay a special property tax assessment that subsidizes DTSF. So even if you are not a ‘member’ of their organization, you are still ‘paying’ into them.

I have often argued that we should eliminate DTSF as an ‘organization’ and just sub-contract the magazine and website out to a marketing firm. Eliminate the memberships and just pay the tax assessment, and include ALL downtown businesses on the website and magazine (since they are ultimately paying a special tax to support the organization anyway.)

DTSF often reminds me of the SF Chamber of Commerce. I consistently here members of the Chamber complain about the ‘benefits’ of their membership, and what exactly are they?

Chamber’s and Neighborhood retail organizations across the country offer their members specials. Like discounted health insurance for their employees, or discounted liability insurance. Special leased discounted parking fees. Other cities also have several ‘festivals’ throughout the summer, almost every weekend. In Austin, Texas, for instance that has a DT strip about the same size as ours, closes off the main drag every Friday and Saturday and has a street party, something I have suggest DTSF tries for a summer.

Last year a couple of DT business owners protested the special tax assessment, and for good reason, they asked the question ‘What is the benefit?’

Good question.



14 comments ↓

#1 cr on 08.05.13 at 10:25 am

It’s always interesting to see how DTSF report the number of NEW businesses DT………

What they consistently fail to mention are the multiple DT businesses that have closed in the past 12 months……..

#2 Craig on 08.05.13 at 10:51 am

I’ve always wondered who makes the rules surrounding the area that is hit with the special tax assessment. I recall watching testimony from a company (I believe they were a glass repair shop, but my memory is fuzzy since it was several years back) and they were asking the city to take them out of that district since they were nowhere near the core of downtown.

The city countered and said they had installed flowers in front of their business, but due to transients using them as urinals, ashtrays, and trashcans they had to be removed.

So to some of the property owners in that area… what benefit do they get from being in that tax district? Surely those along Phillips and perhaps Main benefit when they install nice benches and flower pots and when they pressure spray the sidewalks – but what about those businesses on the perimeter?

Seems like one of those cities in New Jersey where you are expected to ‘donate’ to your local union in order to prevent your windows from being broken every week doesn’t it?

#3 cr on 08.05.13 at 11:00 am

Recently, the thrift shop at the corner of 10th and Franklin objected to the special tax assessment….

The City responded that they are part of the Downtown District therefore they owe the tax…..

This business is located at the east entrance to the viaduct on 10th………..it is really a stretch to say they are part of downtown SF!!!!

#4 l3wis on 08.05.13 at 11:04 am

My bigger point is how they don’t promote, ALL downtown businesses, just the ones that buy one of their faux memberships, even though they all pay in on this assessment. I think the ‘idea’ of a DT association is a good one, but have it actually be functioning to promote ALL of DT.

#5 LJL on 08.05.13 at 12:38 pm

What does the (organization) Downtown Sioux Falls do?

Simple, shake down small businesses and give the money to election campaigns that get them TIFS, smoking ban exemptions and sweetheart land deals.

Just the usual criminal activity of the wealthy. No Big Deal. So pay the DTSF fee or you may have a mysterious electrical fire.

#6 hornguy on 08.05.13 at 1:24 pm

I’m sure there are half a dozen people at the DTSF office who would drown you in superlatives about this group. But otherwise their the two-tiered membership system, whereby everyone’s equal but some are more equal than others, is pretty silly.

#7 Detroit Lewis on 08.05.13 at 1:47 pm

“I’m sure there are half a dozen people at the DTSF office who would drown you in superlatives about this group.”

I’m sure there is 🙂

I think the membership thing is silly to. They should just raise the assessment, and have an opt in or out of it. If you opt for it, they promote you.

#8 Scott on 08.05.13 at 4:16 pm

If you decide not to contribute, does a certain cigar bar asshole come down and try to shake you down?

#9 Detroit Lewis on 08.05.13 at 4:32 pm

“We got to get rid of those kids!”

#10 Joan on 08.05.13 at 5:36 pm

Several years ago, when I was a volunteer for a local non-profit that DTSF wasn’t real community minded. Until the last few years, when I figured out that the Chamber is more or less a semi-political organization, and to try to get more businesses into town. I had always thought they were supposed to know exactly what businesses there were in town. Over the years I had called them a couple different times to ask if they knew of any shops in town that sold hand crafted items on consignment. The only one they knew of was the one that used to be on 41st street that had closed a few years before I called them to ask the question. They sounded really shocked when I told them that one had closed.

#11 Detroit Lewis on 08.05.13 at 5:43 pm

Joan, funny you bring this up. We had a discussion this morning at work about this topic, and how outdated the Chamber’s new businesses list is. While the job of a real chamber would be connecting business members with business members, it seems their only real objective is hunting down new members, and once you are a member they forget about you.

#12 hmr59 on 08.05.13 at 7:46 pm

I’ve also had discussions with friends about the idea of Friday/Saturday night street parties on Phillips. But, unless they are run by a certain c.b.a.h. (see Scott’s comment above), the rest of the dt businesses don’t want THAT element sullying their beautiful downtown…

#13 Scott on 08.05.13 at 11:00 pm

Exactly, hmr. And he’s famous for being in favor of something so that he can gather info but then demand that everybody vote against it.

#14 Detroit Lewis on 08.06.13 at 11:23 pm

That guy would eat the ass of a baboon if he knew it would make him a couple of extra bucks, which ironically would amount to eating his own ass. Which probably wouldn’t bother him since cigar smokers don’t have much flavor left on their tongues.

OK, I am done.