Well it did not take to long for a landlord to challenge the ordinance.

There was a public* hearing last week in which a landlord challenged the city over exactly what constitutes a vacant property and the hearing examiner judge ruled in their favor.

At issue is the definition of occupant, and the judge agreed with the defendants.

I am still awaiting a summary of the ruling and what that may mean for the vacant house ordinance and it’s recent change of a 30 day requirement. Either the city will have to repeal the entire ordinance and rewrite from scratch, or ditch the entire thing.

It’s unfortunate on some level, because there really are some places that need to be fixed up and rented out, but I do agree with the landlord that challenged this, as long as someone is using the property or working on it, technically it is occupied.

I was told a few weeks ago that their has been some investigative reporters digging around on all the vacant home rentals Sanford has hoarded and boarded up just east of Sanford between Grange and Minnesota Avenue. I rode my bike around the area and you could see dozens of vacant homes. I think one one block I counted three in a row.

I’m not sure what the happy medium is but if a landlord is actively trying to improve their property, leave them alone.

*The city has been telling people in the press that these code enforcement hearings are NOT open to the public unless invited by the defendants, but that is not true, anyone can attend.

We have always assumed this was going on, so it was nice to hear one of them admit to it;

And if you’re thinking your call will be logged, that may not be the case.

“Really, not every phone call that comes into our department gets logged,” said Kevin Smith, director of planning and development for the City of Sioux Falls.

So what is the protocol for documenting a complaint?

“It really depends on who took the call,” said Smith. “And did they have enough information on which address you’re calling about.”

City officials say if you want a follow-up call to your complaint, the responsibility is on you to ask for it.

I’m surprised they even make the code enforcement officers show up for work anymore.

According to this story the city has been very quiet about their intentions. I was talking to someone today who has been following the situation closely and they told me that the city will ‘probably’ not tear down the home.

I asked if they thought it may be because of the fear of Federal lawsuits? No. They said it is because of public perception, and if they pull the trigger they fear the blowback.

Which I find comical considering anytime we have a controversy like this in Sioux Falls the local media circle jerks around the story for about 3 days and everyone forgets about it.

Just ask someone who moved here a year ago what they think about the f’d up siding on the Event Center and their response would probably be ‘We have an Events Center?’

The city could tear down the place tomorrow, invite the media and food trucks and make a demolition party out of it and two weeks from now no one will care.


Last week I was talking to a local developer and joked that he should buy the Bunker Ramp. After saying he had no interest he informed me that building hotels on top of parking ramps across the country never works out well, and maybe he is right, Lamont couldn’t find the investors.

I go back to providing retail on the south side and building studio apartments above.

Will the city demolish the $2.75 million dollar mansion?

I have no idea, but let’s look at some scenarios;

On one hand, the city has the legal authority to tear down the house, and since they have been fighting this for 10 years I don’t see any hesitancy on their part. Some would argue that this may make certain people in charge look bad politically, but if there is one thing I have learned from this administration and code enforcement department, they are VINDICTIVE and I don’t see them skipping a beat to tear down this house. Politics be damned when some of the most influential people in the city live in the neighborhood including hospital, media and developer executives, many who have donated to the campaigns of the very people in charge at 9th and Main.

But the Federal judge who said the city has the authority to tear down the house has warned of potential litigation problems if that happens;

Besides the obvious waste of tearing down the house, there are constitutional issues.

My second scenario would be the city finding a suitable buyer, selling the home and being reimbursed for the city’s legal expenses. This would make the most sense and may be the way the city is leaning considering they were granting building permits while the litigation was pending.

Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth,

Many have wondered why the building services department was granting permits. Didn’t the city’s legal department notify the office that they shouldn’t supply permits to this gentleman? I think if the house is torn down he could build a whole case around the permitting alone since apparently there is ZERO communication between city departments when it comes to pending litigation.

Whether the house is torn down or auctioned, in the end the city will make an example, because that is what VINDICTIVE AUTHORITARIANS do. Even if it is saved, the current owners will be hung out to dry.

Personally I think it is BS that someone takes 10 years to complete a house, and I think the city has some authority to speed up or remedy those situations, BUT property rights are a constitutional right and there was probably a million different ways to fix this issue without taking or destroying the home even if they were uncooperative.

This is what happens when you have cruise control government and unqualified leaders and counsel personnel. Ironically this administration has taken a wrecking ball to common sense government so this case just seems par for the course.