While watching the online interview today between Sioux Falls Central District Council Candidates DeBoer and Soehl, Argus Leader Metro Guru Joe Sneve asked them what they thought about developer impact fees and specifically Sanford tearing out affordable housing in the core of our city.
Sanford has mentioned in the past that they would like to expand the 18th and Grange campus all the way towards Minnesota avenue. In that process they have bought several properties in that swath, which includes some of the most affordable housing in our city.
Soehl answered the question first and pretty much towed the tired old line that Sanford has done so many things for our city including employment opportunities (South Dakota has some of the lowest healthcare salaries in the nation) that we should be careful about stopping such expansion.
DeBoer had a different twist on the topic. Besides pointing out that Avera has decided to expand in an area that doesn’t require tearing down affordable housing, he says the Sanford expansion has been detrimental to affordable housing in the core of our city. He reminded listeners that these are some of the most affordable housing options in the city that help first time homebuyer pull themselves out of poverty and rental living. He also pointed out all the blacktop Sanford is putting down in these neighborhoods in the form of parking lots. While he admitted to the economic impact of Sanford, he also said they could expand elsewhere in our city without tearing down these houses.
Zach is right. Instead of Sanford giving several acres to the school district, they could use that land for expansion.
But Zach brings up a bigger point, why does the city, and particular the council and city hall always bow to the altar of Sanford. The Planning Department, the Planning Commission and the City Council could easily say NO to Sanford when they want to tear up more affordable housing in the core of our city, or impose heavy impact fee penalties to dissuade them from doing so.
We need more councilors like Zach, who are looking out for the best interest of the citizenry and not the bottom line of Sanford.