Panhandling in Sioux Falls is almost at a Crisis Stage

While our Mayor is frosting cakes with his daughter on FB and making bets on college basketball, panhandling in Sioux Falls has become out of control.

As I often mention on this site, the city charter is pretty clear, the city council handles policy and the mayor runs the city, that means he is in charge of the police department and the city council doesn’t have the authority to tell them how to handle crime in our city. However, they can create policy and ordinances that the police would have to enforce.

Over the past couple of years panhandling has been getting worse. This year was the first year in Sioux Falls I saw them ALL YEAR LONG. I have even seen them on days when it was below zero. Their two favorite spots are East 10th and 14th Street on Cliff Avenue. But I have seen them downtown for the first time in over 20 years. It is at a crisis stage and it seems our mayor, our city council, our county commission and the police department are playing a game of whack a mole instead of a permanent fix to the problem.

While it is well within panhandlers 1st Amendment rights to ask for money on a street corner, there are limitations. They cannot walk into traffic or impede traffic. But it also goes for vehicle operators. You shouldn’t be handing money out of the window of your car while idling in traffic.

I think there are some simple solutions we can start with that would have an impact right away;

• Stop giving violations to the panhandlers and triage them. I know we are waiting for the Triage Center to open, but we can still help these people now, in fact it would have been a great way to spend some of the Covid stimulus money but our cruise control government had different ideas.

• The homeless shelters need to help them. We partially fund these facilities with tax dollars, if they are NOT helping them to rehabilitate it is time to cut the funding. I’m not concerned if Bill the panhandler accepts JC as his savior, I want him to get sober, get help and stop running in traffic.

• Hourly police patrols breaking them up in troubled areas.

And this is where the city council and county commission would have to do some heavy lifting;

• Instead of fining panhandlers for walking in traffic, we need to have an ordinance that fines vehicle operators for handing money out of the window. The fine should be somewhere between $100-200 and only applies if you are sitting in traffic in a running vehicle and handing the money out of the window. If you pull over and park in a safe place and get out of the vehicle and give money, that would not apply.

• Anytime one of these troubled areas pops up, there should be very visible traffic signage put up that says ‘MONETARY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM MOTOR VEHICLE PROHIBITED. $100 FINE, CITY ORD 000’

The way to fix this problem is not by punishing the panhandlers it is about shutting off the faucet. If you want to help them financially the best thing to do is donate your time or money to one of the shelters in town, the Banquet or even the Triage Center. You are not helping these individuals by handing them beer money from your car, you are creating a very dangerous situation on so many levels.

Mayor TenHaken made a pledge when he was running for mayor, he said he hopes to shut down all the shelters in town because he was going to wipeout homelessness in our community. How is the campaign promise coming along? The city cannot even stream a live video of a public meeting, how can we expect them to fix this problem?

It takes little bites and baby steps, but that isn’t even happening.

Panhandling has gotten so bad over the past couple of years in my neighborhood I have considered putting together a neighborhood security group that will go as a group and break these panhandlers up when the police won’t. It is well within my 1st Amendment rights to ask these people to move along and I have done it several times over the past couple of years without physical threats. I simply explain to them that it is the neighborhood I live in, and don’t want that kind of activity going on there, and when they moan and groan I just take out my phone and tell them that the police will be there shortly. That usually gets them moving. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with a simple conversation.

Trust me, I feel for these folks, but by allowing them to continue to beg for beer money doesn’t help us and doesn’t help them, it is f’ing futile!!!!!

I pay taxes and vote for a reason. It’s time our supposed city and county leaders to put on their big kid pants and act.



17 comments ↓

#1 Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on 03.25.21 at 10:08 pm

The panhandlers are smart people. They have heard that we have all been getting checks in the mail from Uncle Sam. Before Reagan, no panhandlers in Sioux Falls. During Reagan, no checks in the mail. But now, these are “the best of times” for everyone.

#2 Ronald Reagan on 03.26.21 at 9:32 am

Yeah, it’s happened more in the past four years than any other timeframe, thanks Trump for making panhandlers in Sioux Falls. I’m all about the upper class and not helping anyone else, especially minorities, middle class, working class, and the lower class.

Oh yeah I forgot, it’s jelly bean season, my favorite season.

#3 D@ily Spin on 03.26.21 at 10:09 am

Many lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Many have become meth addicts. Homeless shelters and jail prompt Covid exposure. The city has changed but not as much as the country. Near term there’s 2 options. One is be kind and give but give non perishable food and bottled water. The other is the city offers them a bus ticket out of town. Many are from elsewhere and will go home. Others will pick a warm climate. Some have made a living this way. Midwesterners are compassionate and give back. Legal action doesn’t work. They don’t pay fines and jail is a welcomed 3 meals and a cot.

#4 D@ily Spin on 03.26.21 at 10:26 am

Just like for what’s happening at the southern border, there’s no solution except for compassion. Give food, clothing, and maybe temporary shelter. Unfortunately, the city has zoned out formal assistance. Their objective is a fake utopia with play palaces. There are lots of unfilled jobs that don’t pay a living wage and incite more homelessness.

#5 Further Fear & Loathing on 03.26.21 at 11:18 am

Reagan is right. It has gotten worse. “One Sioux Falls” has given the impression that ones money is everyones, or is that the answer? It’s not the answer yet, however. Ever Given is stuck in the Suez. Not sure why I brought this up, except that when commerce is slowed, it’s usually because of the given, who then stimulate like shifting sands in time.

#6 Fearing the Fuhrer & More on 03.26.21 at 11:27 am

Reagan had a jellybean jar on his Oval Office desk. Then, when Clinton won, Reagan gave him a jellybean jar for the Resolute, but Clinton had other plans for that desk.

#7 i12doit on 03.26.21 at 11:52 pm

Help stamp out alcoholism, give a bum a joint.

#8 Mike Lee Zitterich on 03.27.21 at 11:45 am

I had to stop and think about this for a few days; I am not sure the City can actually tackle this issue alone.

One, you got the First Amendment Right of all Americans in the “FREE” REPUBLIC to engage in activity to buy and sell their services, let alone you have the first amendment right to freely engage with others voicing your concerns.

Article 6, Section 2 of the S.D Constitution protects this activity, and reads as follows:

“No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union, or labor organization.”

Can the “CITY” legally, lawfully regulate such commerce of trading ones labor on a public place?

When you then include the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

And furthermore, you got the interests of the State to deal with; the City cannot simply govern motor vehicles without disrespecting TITLE 32 – Motor Vehicle Code.

S.D.C.L 32-1-3 – The Department of Revenue shall exercise the powers, and have charge of and perform functions, duties, and services with respect to the registration and licensing of motor vehicles and motor vehicle dealers, compensation for unusual use of the highways, motor vehicle titles, financial responsibility, and any other motor vehicle functions charged to the Department of Revenue under this title.

Can the “CITY” trump the State as in how it regulates “Motor Vehicles” within the jurisdiction of the State?

Sure you can say we can police and protect public safety on city roads, but lets be honest for a second shall we;

The over all ‘regulation’ of motor vehicles belongs with the Department of Revenue of South Dakota.

And, lets remember, a good chunk of our “revenue” needed to help repair City Streets and Roads comes from S.D.C.L 32-11-4.1 provides the “CITY” no less than $15,000,000 million dollars directed to public highways, streets, and roads that flow thru the City of Sioux Falls.

S.D.C.L 32-11-4.1 –

(1) Fifty-four percent of all funds collected shall be transmitted to the secretary of revenue and credited to the local government highway and bridge fund;

(2) Five percent shall be forwarded to the municipalities within the counties in the following proportions: each municipality within each county shall receive funds in the proportion which the total street mileage of each municipality bears to the total street mileage of all the municipalities within the county. The apportionment shall be made quarterly by the county commissioners at the first meeting in January, April, July, and October. In any county having no municipalities, the five percent collection shall be placed in the county road and bridge fund of the county.

In most places we see panhandlers – most of them are standing along Federal or State Highways such as I-29, I-229, not to mention State Highway 11, 42, and 115.

Yes, those specific roads are also “City Streets” – however thanks to the part where they are governed by the MOTOR VEHICLE CODE, of which falls under the Department of Revenue, whom thru the Motor Vehicle Funds paid by “State Citizens” whom pay the fees, gives full authority of the State to govern such public highways.

Can the CITY simply ‘regulate’ commerce on those such roads, by placing a sign that reads “Monetary Contributions from Motor Vehicles Prohibited”

While I to become tired of all these panhandlers of transacting business thru out the city, I do not know how we can legally stop it, when much of the practice is being done on Federal and State Highways where “WE” are not in full control of the activity.

The City Council has in fact taken up the matter of how to manage this activity, but they are also in full awareness of the Constitutional Provisions and the same laws I speak of…

I agree with Scott on the fact, we should find a way to restrict, or limit these persons from standing within the Traffic Flow, such as they do on East 10th Street, there should be some law that bans a human/pedestrian from standing on the medians, that alone should cause a public safety hazard, especially in light of all the pedestrians being hit by ‘motor vehicles’ as of late.

But, I believe much of these regulations would have to come thru the S.D Legislature prior to enactment.

“WE” take a good portion of revenues from the Motor Vehicle Funds in order to help pay for South Dakota Highways, Streets, Roads, Bridges, all of which give “YOU” the citizen the right to partake in commerce upon paying such fees.

– Mike Zitterich

#9 Just Fearing on 03.27.21 at 1:43 pm

Noem once didn’t like hemp. Now, she wants to de-criminalize. She must be into wind power, too, because she’s shifting with the times.

#10 Very Stable Genius on 03.27.21 at 3:28 pm

The panhandlers do not bother me. Their mere existence is a democracy wall in action. And, how are they any different than lobbyists in Pierre?

#11 FeelingBlueInARedState on 03.28.21 at 10:31 am

Yea, I’m with VSG. I see them, but they really don’t bother me, especially when driving. Pre-COVID, when I was downtown weekly, I’d simply refuse and move on. TBH, sometimes the petition circulators were more aggressive than the panhandlers.

#12 anominous on 03.28.21 at 12:28 pm

The sf jaycees used to have this locomotive train parade float thing they’d drive in the st paddys day parade like 40 years ago and they would throw hard candy and tootsie rolls off it to/at the kids lining the gutters on phillips.

Why is this right for you and wrong for me?

#13 l3wis on 03.28.21 at 5:34 pm

Yeah, mentally ill addicts asking for beer money is so less bothersome than someone asking you to participate in a democracy 🙁

#14 Sick of Fearing on 03.28.21 at 8:29 pm

Addicts asking for beer money, that’s either an improvement or a con.

#15 LJL on 03.29.21 at 1:26 pm

Just goes to show…more handouts=more bums.

Keep wading farther into the abyss of socialism.

#16 Very Stable Genius on 03.29.21 at 6:47 pm

But it started with Reagan, that sounds more like trickle-down to me than a handout.

#17 FeelingBlueInARedState on 03.31.21 at 4:11 pm

Whoa there Detroit! I simply stated that circulators were more aggressive than panhandlers. I said nothing about being bothered by either.