Entries Tagged 'Planning Commission' ↓

Billion dollar permit record in Sioux Falls happened by pouring gasoline on a fire and massive property tax increases

As I have been saying for years, we are breaking these records by ignoring affordable housing, handing out millions in tax rebates and TIFs and including publicly funded projects while raising property taxes a record amount.

If you read the article you see that two large chunks of permitting were projects that received millions in TIF money and another large chunk was public projects like the water treatment plant and the public safety center.

I have often argued that permits should be separated into PUBLIC PROJECTS and COMMERCIAL PROJECTS.

Private Commercial projects build economic growth, but when they are propped up by massive tax rebates it’s just putting gasoline on the fire. As for Public Projects, those are funded by the taxpayers as investments in infrastructure and should NOT be considered towards the permitting financials as part of economic growth. Sure, we have to build these facilities because of growth, but it also means our taxes are going up to do so while handing out tax breaks to the very developers fueling the uncontrollable growth. It is counter productive and simply growth for growth sakes instead measured, calculated slower growth.

I would love to see the city stop giving TIFs for Korean owned egg roll factories and parking ramps and start applying them to neighborhoods. Or better yet abolish TIFs all together and simply invest tax dollars in neighborhoods by encouraging the construction of more affordable housing through other tax incentives. Instead recently the city code enforcers bombarded neighborhoods in the central district with pink spray paint and violation notices for city owned sidewalks. What a great way to prop up our central neighborhoods by fining citizens to fix city owned property (more on this story in the near future).

Recently CountCilor Alex ‘Expert Economist’ Jensen suggested on CityLink that the way to solve our workforce and housing issues is by inviting people to work in Sioux Falls but to live in towns around us like Tea, Hartford, Dell Rapids, etc. Yeah, that’s an awesome way to build a solid tax base 🙁 and this guy works at a bank!

I would also like to see separating commercial and public permits. They don’t represent the same thing and shouldn’t be held up together. It’s like saying you are the championship BBQ’r in your own backyard and buying yourself a trophy. The city saying they broke records by including infrastructure projects they approved and we are paying for through higher taxes is putting the thumb on the scale.

Don’t get me wrong, economic development is good, but let’s be honest about the numbers and where the money is coming from (mostly taxpayers) and let’s start investing in neighborhoods, local businesses and people – then you will see true economic development we can be proud of because you can’t live in a parking ramp, police firing range or an egg roll.

More Backroom Shady deals from the TenHaken Administration and the spineless Sioux Falls City Council

While the city councilors did a lot of whining last night, all 8 of them voted for this deal;

The Sioux Falls City Council voted to discontinue parking at a downtown surface lot, as well as declare it surplus property — the first steps in a plan that could add a four-story building and 150 apartments to downtown Sioux Falls.


The pair of 8-0 votes were taken in relation to a 0.5 acre surface parking lot at 400 S. 1st Ave., one of two lots that have been up for sale since September 2020.


The project is not final, with Powers noting the resolutions passed by the council would enable the city to enter into negotiations on the sale of the lot, which was appraised last year at $502,000.


In an informational meeting earlier this year, Soehl had said he didn’t believe the lot could legally be declared surplus, and called the system of informing the council about submitted proposals “inadequate.”


Basically, as I predicted on Sunday (item #47), a backroom deal was concocted with the developer, which seems to be an odd coincidence considering Mayor TenHaken’s Chief of Shaft, Erica Beck, was a former executive with the company and the developer has continued to receive tax incentives, TIFs, land discounts and other goodies from this administration and council.


Just look at the appraisal price. It is laughable considering that an unblighted lot, on prime downtown property with plenty of access to sewer, water, gas and electrical would only be worth $500K. That lot should go for at least 4 times that amount. I would be curious who appraised this lot and how many appraisals were done? Good luck with that request.


While the City Council wrings their hands about how this deal is being done, they voted for it and refuse to remedy the issue. Oh that’s right, because most of their butts are owned by the banksters, bondsters and developers in town, and they know it. This also should NOT have been voted on as a resolution as ‘surplus’ after a deal was already done with a developer without a proper RFP process. The lot should have been voted on as surplus before ANY developer put in a bid. A little game of the cart before the horse. There should have also been a recommendation to only allow workforce housing be sold at the location. Instead, it appears these will be higher rents. The inept council has had ZERO control of this process from the beginning, but golly gee they sure let the city staff have it by voting 8-0 to approve 🙁


The WAR on transparency and open government continues and the rubberstamp council just plays along while ‘pretending’ they are concerned.

Is it time to Disband the Inept Sioux Falls Planning Commission?

Ironically, it may be a secret goal of Mayor Poops and the rich developers and banksters that support him.

Over the past year I have pointed out on this blog and during public input to the commission itself that they are a useless body. They have non-elected planning staff pre-approve agenda items, they have conflicts of interest with agenda items and recusals at almost every meeting with multiple members AND they have a serious attendance issue barely making quorum at the meetings.

Add another one to the list, as I mentioned Sunday in my agenda post, they had NO discussion on the items tonight because they put them ALL in the consent agenda even though several were controversial like Item 2A which dealt with changing a whole neighborhood into a Historic District (so they likely can get property tax breaks and other historic grant goodies to pay for their remodels).

The meeting lasted a whopping 13 minutes and if you blinked your eye or turned away to scratch your butt, you would have missed what was discussed.

There is an effort by some state legislators whose districts are in Sioux Falls and City Councilors to streamline the planning approval process, or should we say, take it out of the public eye. Developers have been saying for awhile that they are being hamstrung by the planning approval process because neighbors of their projects are objecting. Hey, McFly, that is why we have the process.

After watching the meeting tonight, if you didn’t know the developers and banksters are running this city, you do now.

They should just paint City Hall and Carnegie Hall Black on the outside to match the blackness on the inside.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, Oct 4-6, 2021

The City Council and other boards have a full agenda this week;

The Audit Committee has finally released some audits, been awhile. On Spectra (the people who provide concessions to several city owned entertainment facilities) they found a ton of non-compliance especially with insurance requirements. On the Midco Aquatic Center they have seen an over 50% drop in attendance since 2019 and around a 40% drop in revenue. They were also non-compliant on several fronts and like the Spectra Audit it seems our own Finance Department is not doing regular checks of compliance. For Travel expenses there was several instances of non-compliance. $137,000 travel reimbursements paid directly to travelers (city employees). Many of these results don’t surprise me. I have said the City Manager (The Mayor) is running a rudderless ship and when you have a poor city manager, it results in poor management under that person.

The Planning Commission has decided to go full rogue by putting every single item on the consent agenda this month. Now items can be pulled for discussion by the Commission or Individuals from the public but I find this startling considering that all items are recommended for approval by the Planning Department and I am sure several Commission Members will recuse due to conflicts. Folks, this is what true cruise control government looks like. I am still puzzled why we even have a Planning Commission.

The Charter Revision Commission will continue to review the Charter.

City Council Informational will review building code changes.

City Council Regular Meeting;

On the contracts and agreements (Item 6) in sub items 17-18 they are paying this consulting firm out of Florida to do this?

And of course sub item #38 where we are reviewing the Human Relations Commission.

Sioux Falls Planning Commission Member Ervin suddenly concerned about Public Input

While it is no surprise the Planning Commission approved (6-0, 3 absent) the ridiculous Med MJ zoning ordinance with comments about the ‘Safety of the Community’ even though a large majority of Sioux Falls voters supported this, the most humorous statement was from Sean Ervin who suddenly seemed to be concerned about having public input on zoning and planning issues when it comes to selling a harmless plant. In reference to the conditional use process these dispensary owners will have to go through he said this;

‘ . . . there is public input. That’s a real important step for the city of Sioux Falls, it allows people to come and address us . . . and wisdom that comes from this public input for these officials who have to make these tough decisions (councilors) for the whole community, we are trying to protect the community . . .’

I found it a bit ironic that when it comes to a law that was passed by over 70% of Sioux Falls voters and is only approved for medical use, they seem to be trying to ‘protect’ someone with this process. Who?! Yet when it comes to TIFs, tax rebates and handouts and letting developers build whatever they damn well please, where are those protections?

See, Sean, you can’t have it both ways. If you are for Public Input, let’s do it all the way, why not make every single business in this town whether they are selling Med MJ or Cotton Candy come in front of these two bodies and beg for approval, you know, for the safety of the community. I would even argue that Cotton Candy is probably more harmful than MJ.

The rank hypocrisy I see at some of these city meetings is mind boggling. Ironically, I just told Sean and the rest of the Commission at last month’s meeting that their meetings are just some kind of rubber stamp circus, and they didn’t disappoint tonight.

Are Sioux Falls Developers angling to push residents out of the zoning process?

The Argus did a story about how homeowners are not real keen on having apartments built next to them out in the burbs;

“This sentiment that apartment owners and apartment dwellers are scumbags has got to stop in this community,” said Councilor Christine Erickson. “It’s just not what it is.”

I guess it depends on the location and the condition of the apartment. There is also a difference between $1,100 dollar a month apartments and HUD subsidized housing. I agree with Erickson, apartment dwellers who pay their own rent are NOT scumbags, and this city should do everything in their power to encourage more apartment dwellings for working folks.

The problem here is NOT the homeowners complaining, the problem is the location of the apartments. The large developers want to make a quick buck, so they prefer to build next to homes in a cornfield instead of in the core of the city where we should be building up density. This is what happens when you allow a hospital to bulldoze an entire core neighborhood instead fixing up these core neighborhoods. I know, I sound like a broken record.

As for the neighbors complaining, some of their statements are pretty ignorant. I lived in 7 different apartments in Sioux Falls before I bought my home, there was nothing wrong with it, and there is nothing wrong with me living by apartments now in my home. The bigger issue with these ignorant (and sometimes racist) complaints is that it is helping the developers that are pushing to skip several steps in the zoning process;

There’s always been hesitation from neighbors when they hear an apartment could be going up nearby, said Jill Madsen, vice-chair of the South Dakota Multi-housing Association.

But once all the meetings and votes are done, the construction is completed and the tenants have moved in, she said, “most people don’t even … there aren’t any issues going forward.”

There has been a rumor going around that this organization along with developers are pushing to change city ordinances and state law so that developers no longer have to ask for permission from the neighbors and can just go directly to the planning office to rezone the property and get building permits. No notification and no neighborhood meetings. This of course goes against how things have always been done, but it also lacks transparency. The proponents of this supposed change will of course use all the dreadful comments from homeowners to plead their case for less transparency and essentially ruin the process for the rest of us.

I have felt the planning department has wanted to sidestep the commission and council on a whole host of things. Just look at TIFs, they used to be for only blight and affordable housing until the state legislature changed the law to pretty much make them for anything, and since then they have been handing them out like candy in Sioux Falls, raising the taxes on the rest of us while getting NO economic benefit from the projects. If we allow the state legislature to make these new guidelines you will see apartments go up on every street corner and rent go through the roof;

With a housing market that’s often pricing out even those lucky enough to actually find a home for sale and multiple companies touting the thousands of jobs they hope to bring to Sioux Falls in just the next five years, city staff say qualms about multi-family housing simply don’t mesh with the reality of what the city of nearly 200,000 people needs.

The city administration is getting nervous because they have enticed all these employers with ridiculous tax breaks and now they have no workers and no place for them to live, so they will try any desperate attempt to get up apartments as fast as possible. I have also felt that homebuilders and realtors have artificially inflated home prices, which is going on across the country. The value of my home went up around 37% in ONE YEAR!

I can almost guarantee the Amazon parking lot will be one big campground when it opens.

Slow, measured growth is way better than the fire sale we have been having. Growth for growth sakes never turns out well, and we are in for quite a ride over the next few years.

City of Sioux Falls’ settlement for Midco Aquatic Center windows

I wasn’t sure if the city did a press release on this or if this was in the media, so I requested a copy of the settlement from the city in which I received last week. Pursuant to state law, settlements have to be released to the public.

LETTER from CITY, COPY of SETTLEMENT

While the city providing me a copy of the settlement was good, the settlement itself was questionable.

Basically the city didn’t get a CASH settlement so they could hire another contractor to fix the issue. This would have been the best way to go. Instead the contractor that built the facility agreed to replace the windows at NO cost. The kicker is they are taking NO responsibility for the 24 windows being defective, and will not guarantee or warranty the replacement work. Like I said, it would have been better to get a CASH settlement from them so we could hire a NEW contractor to FIX and WARRANTY the windows. We should also acknowledge that the contractor did shoddy work and exclude them from working on future city projects.

You will also see the conflict of interest in the settlement with a Planning Commission member signing off on the architectural portion.

While this settlement won’t rock our city to the core, it certainly wasn’t handled correctly. We should have sued them and hired a reputable contractor to do the job correctly.

Kevin Smith returns to the City of Sioux Falls Planning Department, with a promotion to boot

Only in the bizarro world of cruise control government these things occur;

Smith will serve as assistant director of planning and development services under director Jeff Eckhoff.

So Smith works in the private sector for 6 years and returns to public service with a promotion. WOW. Only after some certain people have mysteriously disappeared and rumors of several retirements the chess pieces start to move around. It seems Paul’s administration is getting so desperate he is calling up old employees to come back. Pretty soon he will hire MMM to be his consultant 🙂

Mayor Stoneless wouldn’t know leadership if he was hit with it over the head with an Ironman medal.

And nothing against Kevin. I heard last month he was returning. I learned a long time ago, most city managers, especially directors and assistant directors are animals of opportunity. I was surprised Kevin lasted 6 years in the private sector.

I heard our former, former, Fire Chief mows golf courses.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls City Council Agenda August 3-4, 2021

UPDATE: The Planning Agenda is NOW posted, if you go to the Med MJ Item 5B, you will see how convoluted they have written it. Read the final two paragraphs first. Basically, they want any dispensary to apply at the 1000’ foot variance, but they can request to be at 500’ feet through conditional use. In other words, every dispensary will have to go begging to planning and likely the city council for the variance. They have made this much more complicated than it needed to be. They should have just reduced to 500’ feet for ALL dispensaries. There is NO difference between Bob’s MJ Dispensary or Mary’s MJ Dispensary, they do the same thing, why would the variance change from store to store? This is what happens folks when you have legislators not listening to the public, a big fat cluster.

Notice the agenda for the Planning Commission meetings have NOT been posted yet. This is not unusual, they have until tomorrow to do so for the briefing. Remember, the Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the zoning restrictions for Medical MJ on Wednesday. The proposal is for 1000 feet, but advocates have asked for 500 feet. I have no ideas what is going on behind the scenes. I have had radio silence with ALL councilors, city officials and moles and planning commission members. My guess is that there are some very ‘delicate’ negotiations going on. Hopefully we will know more Monday afternoon.

On the council agenda is the budget hearings and the regular council meeting.

Item #6, Sub Item #13, More money for screwing around with SAM on demand, $140K. Interesting that we have NO idea how the first round went, too bad they couldn’t have a PTAB meeting to tell us, oh that’s right, they couldn’t because that would have been a violation of open meeting laws for not posting an agenda 24 hours in advance.

Item #41, 1st Reading, TIF for Cherapa II. As you know I am opposed to this, as I am with ALL TIFs in Sioux Falls that don’t help with affordable housing. If you glance at the 92 page document attached to the item, you will notice that the land purchase agreement was signed back in November of 2019 by the mayor. Once again not only are we giving TIFs to wealthy developers who have the resources to do these projects on their own, we hold onto the land for them for almost 2 years tax FREE. You know who owns and runs this town, and it ain’t you and me.

Joint Minnehaha County / Sioux Falls Planning Commission votes against small addition to wedding barn due to city greed

An official called me Monday night after the joint meeting in which the commissions were voting on an additional building to be added to the property of the wedding barn by the Veterans Cemetery. The applicant wanted to add a smaller building to the property for smaller receptions for funerals at the cemetery.

The MCC voted unanimously to approve, the SF Planning voted 3-2 to not approve because they felt the applicant needed to pay multiple platting fees for the building on one piece of property.

Commissioner Johnson made the same motion for the city planning commission to approve the
Rezoning #21-01 request. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Kittams. Commissioner
Luetke commented that he would be voting against the request because he believes everyone
should go through the same process. A roll call vote was taken and the motion was rejected with
3 votes against the motion and 2 votes in favor of the motion. Commissioners Norman, Luetke,
and Paulson voted against the motion and Commissioners Johnson and Kittams voted in favor of
the motion.

You must also remember this is in the joint jurisdiction area and many city services are NOT provided out there. The multiple platting fees would make sense if this was a well developed area, but it is not.

It is time for Minnehaha County to revoke their joint jurisdiction agreement with the city and let county residents who don’t live under the dictatorship of the City of Sioux Falls to be FREE.

The item will move onto the full council and commission.