Why does the Sioux Falls Planning Department continue to advocate for private development?

There is a whole host of reasons why public employees SHOULD NOT be advocating for private business, but that is a rabbit hole I don’t want to go down tonight. But one of the biggest reasons is because I am paying their wages and they should be looking out for the best interests of not only business, but citizens and the city as a whole.

I guess it shouldn’t be any surprise that the Planning Department is advocating for private development when it comes to the street vacation of Elmwood, they have been doing it for years and learned it from the master, Steve Metli. As the old joke goes, there are three types of zoning in Sioux Falls, C-1, C-2 and C-Metli.

During last Tuesday’s city council meeting (during public input at beginning), the neighbors brought up their disappointment in the Planning Department advocating for the street vacation, they also pointed out that Lifescape doesn’t plan on staying for more than 5 years, Elmwood is a main thoroughfare AND the safety of the kids is NEVER compromised because the bus pulls right up to the building to pick them up.

But it didn’t stop the city from sending this letter;

(Click to enlarge)

Today, COS and Part-Time Mayor Beck sent out an email talking about all of the benefits of the street vacation. It’s so long I wondered if Neitzert wrote it? Here are some highlights;

We are also recommending support of this right-of-way vacation for neighborhood and community-wide reasons:

• City staff have long supported neighborhood preservation.  This includes the preservation of our core community institutions.  It is unfortunate that this right-of-way vacation request has perpetuated the perception that this is a LifeScape vs. the neighborhood issue, when in reality, LifeScape is an anchor in this neighborhood and has been since they broke ground in a corn field on the outskirts of Sioux Falls in 1948.  (Please see attached photo of the groundbreaking event for LifeScape, then named the Crippled Children’s Hospital and School).

• While balance has been and will continue to be important between commercial and institutional growth and adjacent residential housing, it is critical that we look at the macro of these situations and what is possible with and without investments like that of LifeScape’s.  City staff will continue to work diligently on the ‘preservation’ of neighborhoods so that we do not see continued need for new areas in which public investment is required for ‘revitalization’.

• Our core institutional campuses are vital anchors to not only their neighborhoods but our community as well.  Through their growth and success, our entire community flourishes.  Please know that these folks are at the table, hand in hand with us ready to re-invest into our housing stock and we are looking forward to bringing those ideas to you in the very near future.  They know firsthand how challenging workforce growth is and the key to that often lies within the realm of housing.

• Our team also believes that the challenge associated with on-street parking and the overall safety concerns for clients and employees of the LifeScape campus are not isolated to LifeScape as a business but to the site as a whole.  An attractive, well-maintained and safe property is just as important today as it will be 5, 10, 15, or even 20+ years from now.  The overall parking demands and traffic safety challenges related to the campus will not suddenly be alleviated should LifeScape determine to move elsewhere and another business occupy the space.

Next steps:

• Our Planning staff has reached out to the three neighbors adjacent to the future parking lot.  This effort has been made to ensure that there is dialogue between the neighbors and LifeScape with respect to our landscaping standards versus specific needs of the three adjacent neighbors.

• Our Engineering staff is hosting an open house on Monday night, February 11 to discuss with neighbors that could be impacted by the right-of-way vacation, why the administration is not in opposition to the request.

• Our Planning and Engineering teams will be in attendance on February 12 at the Council meeting to present the request, along with our analysis into the traffic impacts from the proposed right-of-way vacation.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Best regards;


Erica L. Beck

Chief of Staff to the Mayor, City of Sioux Falls

As you can see, there is strong language that the administration supports the street vacation. They should not be taking sides. You could almost argue there are pros and cons on both sides. It is NOT the job of the city, it’s employees, the mayor’s office or city councilors to advocate one way or the other. Their job is to make a decision based on what is best for the citizens. It is pretty obvious that closing Elmwood would not be good for the residents, but I guess it is their fault for not requesting a C-Metli rezone.


#1 Scott on 02.07.19 at 9:15 pm

Balance is referred to in the second paragraph. This street vacation being forced on that neighborhood doesn’t seem to be balanced at all. It seems very much one sided towards the favor if the business. Just who will ultimately benefit from this? Another secret for the current administration perhaps?

#2 D@ily Spin on 02.08.19 at 10:07 am

I suspect there’s an inside developer involved. REAL private development requires padding pockets at city hall. This way what is intended gets expedited and (likely) with free utility upgrades. After a few court cases it’s become common knowledge to stay away from city corruption and (certainly) never accept a city contract. Anything city must be directed to an inferior insider or awarded to an out of state corporation that pays commission to the city mafia.

#3 "Very Stable Genius" on 02.08.19 at 2:55 pm

“The Jesus plows will becoming to a neighborhood near you….”

#4 anonymous on 02.09.19 at 9:23 am

It was the LifeScape representative who testified at a Council meeting that they would not be in that location more than the next FIVE YEARS.

So, why vacate a street which this core neighborhood obviously wants to keep!?