I had heard about this lawsuit this past summer, but I couldn’t figure out who was filing it or what it was specifically about. It was first filed in June of 2022 and amended in September;

Mayor Paul TenHaken and the city of Sioux Falls are being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The suit is filed on behalf of Sioux Falls resident Robert Elliot. It claims that the city has failed “to design, construct, maintain public facilities and enforce city ordinances related to sidewalks for ADA compliance, access ways, sidewalks and roads that are fully accessible to, and independently usable by persons with disabilities.”

The lawsuit also claims that barriers also violate city ordinance.

Besides the residential sidewalks (the adjacent property owner’s responsibility) the ‘barriers’ have been an issue for years. As a person who has rode the sidewalks in this town on a bike for years I have often been astonished with how bad the sidewalks are mainly on Minnesota Avenue and 41st street. They look like sidewalks in a war torn country like Ukraine.

I was curious why the city decided to spray paint to their heart’s content thousands of sidewalks last year and offer a neighborhood grant program to fix them. Looks like they were trying to play catchup. As it was explained to me the city could not use ARPA money to fix adjacent sidewalks due to liability. In other words if the city just used ARPA money to fix the sidewalks they would take on the liability of the sidewalk if someone got injured falling on a crack, BUT the city could have used the money to fix barriers and put in ADA accessible ramps to the sidewalks.

Which brings us to this claim in the suit;

The lawsuit also claims the city has the ability to pay for repairs and construction. As an example of ability to pay, it cites the several million dollars the city received in federal COVID funds in 2021 and that the city spent zero of that infrastructure aid money on ADA compliance.

This lone sentence in the lawsuit is the kicker. While the city literally threw money at butterflies, tennis courts and ‘other stuff’ at the DSU (private) research facility they spent NO money fixing ADA problems.

Let’s not kid ourselves, a Federal lawsuit like this will be in the courts for years and the city will likely fight tooth and nail with our tax dollars instead of doing the right thing and just complying.

The city should really just work on a compromise and a plan to do the right thing but with a lead city attorney with one foot out the door I have a feeling this is going to end badly.

7 Thoughts on “City of Sioux Falls & Mayor TenHaken being sued for ADA violations

  1. D@ily Spin on March 2, 2023 at 8:56 am said:

    This is one direction the city can be attacked from. It’s a good one. When budget goes to fighting lawsuits, there will be less for TIF’s and private development. Wear them down until they end up in State Court with the charter revoked and a supervised democracy instated. Oligarch criminals will be forced to return to credit card and health care schemes.

    There could become a time when city government will once again focus on citizens instead of funding for senile developer follies. It will be a time when they must stop using resources to persecute Ukrainian refugees and watch while the homeless suffer and die.

  2. Fear & Loathing in Sioux Falls on March 2, 2023 at 2:02 pm said:

    An extra $10 million for a bridge, but not so much for potholes and ADA. We have our priorities, you know. Potholes are no fun. ADA is a bother, while a bridge can be your future. It’s better than paying the ferry man. Plus, is the ferry ADA compliant? Oh, and watch out for the potholes while on board the ferry. I wouldn’t want you going overboard. A wheelchair could sink you quicker. Talk about the ultimate pothole.

  3. Mike Lee Zitterich on March 3, 2023 at 4:48 pm said:

    I went driving around the other day, and the Pot hole issue is being over exxaggerated. Either I am damn good at missing them, or people are over reacting. Yes, there are pot holes here and there, but the problem is not a huge concern, let alone an issue. As for the ADA complaint, it will be hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt that we as a city have been neglecting our duties to provide decent curb cuts for wheel chair or handicap people. As for the bridge, it was contracted out, approved by the council, let alone, the mayor remained within the 2023 Budget without increasing the budget. Let’s take a breather, and live life a iittle, and be encouraged that the population growth of the city is leading to some pretty interesting revenue trends in this city. ty

  4. l3wis on March 3, 2023 at 5:21 pm said:

    Mike, read the lawsuit;


    There is over 4,000 identified ADA violations with photos. It is going to be a heavy lift by the city to defend themselves.

  5. Further Fear & Loathing on March 4, 2023 at 1:46 pm said:

    “… with photos”, that’s always damaging. That’s how they caught Profumo, you know…. AND, the “heavy lift”, I get your pun…. 🙂

  6. anominous on March 7, 2023 at 1:26 pm said:

    How can tenhaken be sued for ADA violations when he is without a doubt the most physically-fit mayor in the history of Sioux Falls? smh! What?!!

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