Entries Tagged 'Planning Commission' ↓

Was the City of Sioux Falls planning an affordable housing project without Neighborhood input?

It appears that the city was working behind the scenes with the Sioux Falls School District to build around 14 single family affordable houses on this empty lot owned by the school district. The Pettigrew Heights Neighborhood association got wind of the back door negotiations (they were NOT included in the discussions) and put out a survey to the neighborhood (it is closed now) to see what the neighbors think.

Let’s just say they are NOT happy about how this was being planned (in the dark). While I certainly would support a project like this, I don’t live near it or in that neighborhood so I can’t speak for the people who live there, but it seems they would like to keep it as is and add a park instead.

No matter who is involved with this backdoor plan, I will say this is NOT how you go about it. You have to engage the citizens in the neighborhood in a public meeting setting and work with them on shaping the project.


I think a mixed use of townhomes, apartments and homes with a park and urban garden in the center would be a good way to go. But we NEED the public’s input first and foremost.

They are having a meeting Monday to address the issue. I think some city staff from the planning office are going to be in attendance.

Sioux Falls City Council Agenda, May 4-5, 2022

The meetings are on Wednesday and Thursday this week because today was supposed to be the runoff election.


Informational Meeting • 4 PM • Wednesday May 4

Presentation on 2022-23 Sculpture Walk Review by Brandon Hanson, Director of Museums, WPAS & Sculpture Walk

Regular Meeting • 6 PM • Wednesday May 4

Item #6, Approval of Contracts, Sub Item #4, Leadership Training. The pricing is attached to the agenda item. As I have discussed before, I do support ongoing training of city employees, but what I find astounding is training people who should already be able to fill the rolls. It is also very expensive.

Item #60, 2nd Reading, Sidewalk ordnance changes. As I have said previously, I find it strange we would be making significant changes in the middle of 2,600 violations handed out in the core neighborhoods. What I find ironic is if you look at sidewalks on city property (adjacent to city buildings) the sidewalks are in dire shape. But instead of focusing on that they go after private homeowners to deflect.

Item #61, giving more money out for the ice ribbon. Shocker.

Planning Meeting • 6 PM • Thursday May 5

Item #2B, Wants to change from regular suburban residential to historic preservation. I just think this one is interesting because it is on the 21st St Blvd in McKennan Park and if you drive past the home you can see a lot of work done. But why switch it? Well, if you can get your home designated as historic preservation you can get tax incentives and even grants. I would be curious if they are requesting this change because of the love of historic preservation or for the tax incentives? Probably both.

Item #2N, Changes to Annexation ordinances. I find it interesting that these changes are pushed into the consent agenda without discussion, and this part was added;

Upon receipt of a request from property owner(s) to annex property into city limits, the petitioner, the public works department, and city attorney’s office have the authority through SDCL 9-4-1.1 to enter into an agreement specifying the conditions under which the landowner’s property may be annexed into the municipal boundaries.

Not sure what that means, but anytime you add an entire section, it probably doesn’t mean the government is giving you more rights, probably the contrary.

Item #5A, Ordinance changes to Concept Plans.

Item #5B, Ordinance changes to Shared Paths.

Item #5C, Amending 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

The disappearing Sioux Falls Planning Commission Agenda

Now you see me, now you don’t

On Thursday night I happened to take a gander at the agenda page, I was surprised to see the March 2 agenda for the Planning Commission posted. I didn’t make a copy of it because normally if an agenda is posted it usually doesn’t come down even if changed before the 24 deadline. I did read it though, and NO surprise that everything was in the consent agenda with a stamp of approval from planning staff.

What I find interesting about the disappearing agenda is that it did have one item on it that would be of interest. There was a rezone request for offices at the Sanford Sports Complex (The DSU project). Why is this interesting? No public funding has been approved yet by the city. Was the agenda pulled because of this? What other changes were made? By law they don’t have to post an agenda until 24 hours before a meeting and it must be the final agenda. In other words if they would have kept up the agenda from Thursday, they could have updated that agenda any time between then and Tuesday before the 24 hour deadline. The city council has done this on occasion. But to take it down completely to make the updates is very curious.

I tried to find something in the charter that would address posting an agenda then taking it down completely without replacing it with an updated agenda, but I could not. Maybe this is something that needs to be addressed at the meeting Wednesday night?

Reflecting on 2021 in Sioux Falls City Government, Part I

You will see a continuing trend in the current administration, a HATRED towards transparency and dozens of potential coverups;

• Mayor TenHaken said his goal for 2021 was to be the most inclusive mayor of all time in the city. I guess he has moved on in 2022 . . .

• The City of Sioux Falls got an ethics (violations) insurance policy.

• City Council gives out 3 TIFs in 2021 totaling around $144 million for condos, parking ramps and egg roll factories.

• The Sioux Falls Planning commission has serious attendance issues and conflicts of interest.

• Ghost Ambulance REMSA coverup artist, SF Health Director Jill Franken retires.

• City Attorney’s office covers up over a dozen ethics complaints and throws them out without public view.

• Accused and wanted child molester is found working at the MIDCO.

• Even with an entire department dedicated to technology the city continues to have issues with the online streaming of videos.

• Legal settlement with the DT Bunker Ramp still has not been accomplished (or maybe it has?)

• During a mask mandate discussion at a city council meeting TenHaken looses his marbles after being called out on how he tries to stop public input.

• After several years of panhandling issues in Sioux Falls the city puts up signs to tell people to stop doing it while panhandlers just stand under the signs and continue to do it.

• City blows COVID money on play things like butterflies, ice rinks and tennis courts.

• City opens TRIAGE center in which it continues to be underfunded and hardly makes a dent on the problems it was meant to solve.

• City approves a tiny house community for veterans.

• Multi-cultural Center Director is dismissed(?).

• City of Sioux Falls concocts Medical MJ dispensary rules behind closed doors making a mockery of the public process.

• Sioux Falls police chief retires(?)

• TenHaken decides to run for a 2nd Term but has yet to campaign or have an official FB page for the campaign.

• TenHaken continues to push behind closed doors to buy up property along the loop so it can be bulldozed for preferred developers.

• 2021 School Board Election has a 5.13% voter turnout.

• Councilors Jensen and Erickson hold a housing summit coffee, nothing came of it.

• Councilor Jensen’s sidewalk scooter ordinance is withdrawn because he fails to engage the public.

• Levitt has successful season even if the adult beverage vendor stretched the truth about being the major contributor to their annual budget. Still waiting for the 2021 budget numbers . . .

• Wholestone Farms, an entity owned by regional pork producers, plans to build a more than $500 million pork processing facility in Sioux Falls without ANY government handouts (TIFs). They are even considering building housing (apartments) for the employees.

• Sioux Falls Districting Commission changes Central District to include Whittier and Cathedral neighborhoods.

• The Charter Revision Commission throws out ALL citizen proposals for the April ballot, but the city council manages to put a salary increase on the ballot.

• The city sprays for mosquitos in broad daylight and claims it is safe to spray on humans and pets. When asked why they are spraying in daylight they claim they can’t get employees to work at night (a couple hours later).

• It takes private donors to SAVE the Tuthill hospitality home and they do it for half the price the city would have spent.

• City Attorney’s office makes a secret deal for a land swap with the developers of the Sioux Steel project and councilors are told they can’t talk about it publicly.

• Sioux Falls ONLY daily newspaper finally admits the failure of the EC entertainment district, and does it anonymously. Now that is integrity in journalism!

• City leadership does very little to encourage Covid vaccination leaving it up to the private sector to inform us.

• The city parks department takes my advice and posts safety signs along bike trail even though they read more like a Bible verse than a warning.

• There is a push by city council and the planning department to have the State Legislature change laws in 2022 to allow rebates on excise taxes, 0% TIFs and skipping the zoning process when it comes to building apartments next to residential. While dome deregulation and tax breaks would be great, they really need to start at the bottom.

• A (non) settlement is made with the defective windows on the Midco while no one is really held accountable and the SF MSM did NO stories about it. It’s like it never happened.

• The mayor’s youngest daughter gives us a new nickname for him, Mayor Poops. (I was surprised there wasn’t more media coverage on this 🙂

Sioux Falls Developer trying to get TIFilicious in Rapid City

It shouldn’t be a surprise that this developer is asking for a TIF for a project that doesn’t supply ANY affordable housing;

The apartments will start at around $995 for studios, $1,295 for one bedrooms and $1,895 for two bedrooms.
Luke Jessen, senior director of development at Lloyd, said the company will ask the city for an $8.75 million TIF, although a hearing date has not yet been scheduled.

$995 for a hole in the wall apartment in Rapid City, seems reasonable? Notice how many groups it must go through before approval;

The project will soon appear on the Tax Increment Finance District Review Committee, Planning Commission and Historic Preservation Commission agendas.

We may be served well if we had such a committee;

The committee is comprised of two Rapid City Council members, two Pennington County Commissioner members, one Rapid City Planning Commissioner, one Rapid City Area School District representative, and one Economic Development Partnership representative.

If we had a committee like this, there might be transparency in the process, they actually meet in council chambers and members of the public can attend to see how the TIF is negotiated. What a concept! In Sioux Falls they are negotiated in the basement of the planning office then rubber stamped by the Planning Commission and City Council.

UPDATE: TIFs and Loans for Home Improvement, better late than never!

The City Council is getting a presentation on Tuesday about the proposal;

Imagine my surprise after over a decade of me pleading with any city councilor or mayor that would listen, the city is exploring a plan to give no interest loans from $10-$30K for home improvement in the core (notice there is NO agenda or minutes from the October meeting. Was it cancelled?) From the Argus;

The Accessible Housing Advisory Board (AHAB) met earlier this month to discuss a housing action plan policy using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to help alleviate housing costs in the coming years.

Usually, a TIF incentivizes developers to construct buildings and make other private investments on sites that without TIF funding would otherwise not be developed, according to Family Housing Fund, a housing information group in Minnesota. The TIF would mean long-term investment in certain neighborhoods and properties.

Recommendations coming out of the board, which brings together community stakeholders in Sioux Falls’ housing sector, will eventually move to city council for final approval and implementation of housing solutions in the following months.

Homes considered for the TIF consideration and given priority for public housing help would include homes built before 1980 in the core of the city, which is bordered by Marion Road, 49th Street, Sycamore Avenue and 60th Street North.

Ironically the city admits that we have a lot of low wage jobs in this town, and more coming;

Part of the proposal also included a rental repair loan option, which would offer $10,000 per unit at five years, no-interest. In addition, homeowners could apply for up to $30,000 in no-interest, deferrable loans to repair their own homes to increase their value.

“It’s a great thing to offer as there’s still people living paycheck-to-paycheck and not able to keep their properties up,” said Brent Tucker, director of housing development for Affordable Housing Solutions.

Tucker said public to private funds help ease the burden of home costs, though the loans do come with heavy stipulations.

“To truly create affordable housing, we all need to work together, especially with Amazon, CJ Foods and others,” Tucker said. “Since they’ll bring in those folks who will make 80% of median income.”

Mr. Tucker is an awesome city employee, he helped me with a community development loan around 15 years ago and walked me through the process and was very helpful. I will warn people who apply, you have to do a lot of the leg work yourself, but it is well worth it. Getting an interest free loan to repair your home isn’t FREE money, but it kind of is. You can also apply the payment of the loan when you sell so you may not have to make any short term payments. If they factor in TIFs, you will also get tax rebates for home repairs.

While I could certainly go on a rant that this could have been done 2 decades ago (community development loans have been around for a long time, but there really isn’t a strong marketing push to get them), at least they are moving in the right direction now. I would suggest that the city hires some part-time people, like retirees to knock on the doors in neighborhoods that could use this program and help them with the initial application. There has to be outreach for this to work. The city will also have to pony up with curb and gutter, street repairs, water and sewer and updating street lights.

We will see how this plays out. Cross your fingers.

City of Sioux Falls puts out video bragging about spending tax dollars on private development

You would think normal public officials would be putting out videos about road improvements and cleaning up neighborhoods, nope, they like to brag about TIFs and giving tax rebates to wealthy developers to build parking ramps and condos.

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.