Recently a prisoner transitional housing proposal came in front of the city council (Item #38). While the council moved it to 2nd reading, they seem to be opposed to approving the rezone to institutional from multi-family residential.

The problems are evident, changing from a regular apartment to a recovery home, buying the property BEFORE properly zoning it (the client in this case has pulled this song and dance before with other properties, so they KNEW exactly what they were doing, asking for forgiveness later, the oldest trick in the book).

While many have mentioned the sex offenders living at the facility, this is actually NOT a bad thing because 1) they would be supervised and 2) several unsupervised sex offenders already live in the neighborhood.

So what’s the problem? Shape Places, passed by the city council, and after opponents had a successful petition drive to repeal it, the voters also approved it. I helped a smidgen on the petition drive, and the ONLY real substantive change they wanted was to KEEP conditional uses in zoning (this gives the planning commission and city council the ability to put conditions on the rezone). Shape Places was stripped of this, so the Planning Commission and City Council really only have one option, approve the rezone and all the headaches that go with it, or DENY it which will likely leave this property as is, which is a dump.

If the council had the authority (before Shape Places) to put conditions on the rezone they could have worked with the property owner to at least make this a transitional, unsupervised housing (and that may be their plan moving forward).

As I tell people, the developers in town wanted this to ‘speed up the process’ or more like put things under the radar, the council passed it, and the voters passed it, it is what we have now.

The council CAN revisit Shape Places whenever they want to, and they have the power to modify it to re-allow conditional uses. I believe BOTH Minnehaha and Lincoln County Planning Commissions allow for conditional uses.

This probably happens more then we think, someone buys a property only to find out they are stuck with stringent zoning.

I support deregulation when it makes sense, but not giving our elected officials the ability to modify zoning on a case by case basis has really tied their hands.

Just for clarity, the SFPC is supposed to have 9 members, they currently have 8. When Councilor Pat Starr asked planning staff at the city council meeting Tuesday night about how an agenda item can pass the SFPC with just 3 votes the staffer said that they are short a member right now and that the chair cannot vote and with 2 recusals they could only get 3 votes for approval but was considered ‘quorum’.

I love how they just make the rules up as they go along.

I have argued for a long time we wouldn’t have these issues if there wasn’t so many conflicts of interest on the board.

I hold nothing against members who invest in development and contracting work, they are volunteers after all, but this position shouldn’t be a stepping stone to make sure your deals go thru and with turning most of the agenda into ‘consent’ we have NO clue what projects are getting approved that they are involved with.

Every member should be required to say what specific item they have a conflict with and why. Some members have done it in the past but most just say ‘I have a conflict, bye’.

I feel sorry for the members of the public who have to address the SFPC, because by the time an item makes it to the board, the decision has already been made and they kick it over to the rubber stampers to seal the deal.

During the Active Transportation Board meeting yesterday a constituent asked how they can get more involved and a city employee told them they need to start going to subcommittee meetings. I told this person afterwards that is the runaround the city gives you when you try to make changes to city ordinance. I told him I work directly with my elected officials. We elect them to help us with reasonable requests, they can go to the 9 AM meetings on a Wednesday morning and report back.

UPDATE: I guess the neighbors are going to Not oppose the alcohol license now. Which is good, because I need a beer to wash down my boutique benny’s.

The proposed Bunker Coffee Shop at 9th and Grange has gone thru so many business proposals since it’s inception they really should honor the process by calling the place, ‘The Chameleon’;

Halbach also requested a conditional use permit for beer and wine — though it’s for brunch-related beverages as hours will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

An outdoor beer and coffee bar is planned in the back on a vacant lot he also owns, designed for overflow seating because there’s indoor space for only about 20 guests.

So he wants to change it from a neighborhood coffee shop to a boutique brunch place? Okay. Or maybe a beer garden;

“So this will essentially allow us to send people to the outdoor beer and coffee bar to get a drink while they wait for a table and play yard games or hang out in the yard,” he said, estimating that area could hold up to 50 guests.

I have no issue with allowing them to have beer and wine, BUT, I also don’t live in the neighborhood. I can tell you my experience from having a pretty popular bar only a block from my house a few years ago, it can come with some extra noise but was a welcome addition, I was sad when it closed only to be replaced by another telephone booth casino.

I can tell you that people who live in Pettigrew and Cathedral neighborhoods are opposed to the alcohol request, mainly because Bunker House Coffee keeps changing what it originally proposed, from exterior/interior designs to taxpayer supported on-street parking and facade easements;

The project received a $95,000 facade easement grant from the city of Sioux Falls, and work to redo the brick is scheduled to start soon.

Interesting the facade now jumped $20K from what was originally asked for.

“The guts of the building are in really bad shape,” Halbach said.

The GUTS?! Just looking at the building you could tell it is a complete wreck. I am all for historic preservation and commend people who want to fix up older structures, but personally I would have bulldozed it and built a one-story building with roof patio that would have comparable historic architecture. Probably would have saved him a million bucks.

Hey, I get it, we all have our passions in life, but you can’t bring along the public in a concept that changes it’s colors every 5 minutes.

I think there will be some public blowback to the alcohol permit, but like the facade easement (to the former campaign treasurer of Councilor Curt Soehl), this will pass with flying colors.

Who wants a Mimosa?

During the city council informational meeting last night (sorry for the jacked up link, but the city has been busy trying to make it harder to access the videos and agendas-WHO USES DOUBLE SCROLL BARS!?) councilor Jensen was addressing the proposed mixed use ordinance.

The point of the new ordinance is to help encourage mixed use housing and retail in higher density areas. Something that is long overdue.

Councilor Merkouris suggested during the item discussion that maybe there should be more requirements when it comes to the type of varied construction and units a developer builds.

Councilor Soehl protested based purely on citizens griping to him about the transition between single family and multi-family and having to be the one to make the decision.

Well after almost 8 years on the city council, Mr. Soehl has finally figured out he is part of the policy body of city government and sometimes has to make decisions that affect real people’s lives. Who knew?

His partner in crime and fellow lazy leadership companion, Alex Jensen had an even better solution, let the developers determine zoning and development.

After I stopped laughing at the initial statements, I realized as Alex continued to stammer and mumble he was dead serious. He feels the development community should just determine long term growth and housing.

Well guess what Alex, we have allowed this to happen over the past 30 years and what it has created is a cottage industry of developers building McMansions and condos (with TIF funded parking ramps attached) while ignoring our workforce and affordable housing crunch in Sioux Falls. We let the industry fart around long enough it is time we changed ordinances to encourage this kind of growth instead.

Of course, I don’t expect any major changes during the cruise control administration. They will probably just take the initial proposal, water it down and have have the Pumpkin Policy Advisor re-write it.

The developers run the city and at least two city councilors proved it in their testimonies.


During the meeting last night councilor Starr asked for an item to be removed from the consent agenda. He also followed protocol and informed the department within the city the day before that he had questions about the item. No one showed up to answer the questions. So now the administration isn’t even bothering to show up to council meetings?


During last week’s operations committee meeting the council discussed how to hire and maintain city council employees. After listening to the discussion it makes you wonder who has been managing the city council employees? Certainly not the council or leadership. My suggestion all along was to bump up the pay a little to the operations manager and make him king sh!t of the council employees. If there is any problems he can’t deal with he can bring those to the council in an executive session. I am not sure why the council likes to make things so complicated? I think they only have 5-6 full-time employees, that’s less then a food truck.


I’m still baffled why the Mayor thinks he can ask for registration of a public event;

Mayor Paul TenHaken will deliver the 2023 State of the City address on Monday, April 17 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. that day. This year’s event will feature a special panel discussion on the Riverline District.

The event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is requested by April 7 because breakfast will be served. Please note that seating is limited, but the address will be available to view via livestream on the City of Sioux Falls’ Facebook page.

First off, you don’t need to register for a public event, this is just a way to collect data on who may be attending and secondly, who is paying for the breakfast?

It seems they will also be shoving the Riverline District down our throats whether we like it or not, even recruiting Jodi to write a column about the possibilities;

Based on the comments, there is a clear reluctance from many who participated in this exercise to support a large-scale publicly funded sports venue. To be clear, I did not read all the comments and I have not seen the results of the survey that went with this, which might give a broader look at the sentiment. But each time I saw someone mention a stadium, the number of negative reactions far exceeded the number of positives.

Besides the very glaring and obvious sentiment taxpayers don’t want us to invest in a baseball stadium there are other issues that NO one wants to talk about;

• Besides infrastructure (like roads, utilities and green space) citizen taxpayers should not be involved in any type of purchase agreement with this land. We will take care of the infrastructure, let the developers take care of the investment

• Housing will be a challenge. Unless there is some long term plan to create a quiet zone in the area or remove the tracks all together, it will be a hard sell putting apartments next to the busiest train line downtown.

• Drake Springs limits permanent development. One of the main reasons a stadium or other outdoor venue is being pushed is because where the Drake Springs lie would cause water issues with any permanent structure. In other words because of the natural springs in a large part of this area, green space will be the ONLY option.

I’m not sure why the mayor is pushing this development so hard, but if I had to guess it is because some of his friends involved with this are looking to pad their pockets on the backs of taxpayers because that is how it is done in Sioux Falls. Play ball!

Ever wonder why no one takes a picture of themselves at Falls Park with their camera pointed North?

Oink! Oink!

It seems we have another hog trough to the South of Falls Park except these pigs are gorging themselves on TIFs.

I often wonder if the architects, developers, engineers, investors and city planners behind this project ever thought about the skyline they were creating when families and tourists take photos at Falls Park? Maybe they knew exactly what this obstruction of pre-fab concrete would look like and why no mention of the future skyline.

When planning large developments around tourist attractions (our only one) the city planning office should have been more cognizant of the final skyline.

I also wonder if Experience Sioux Falls will change all of their marketing photos of Falls Park showing off the new condolicious skyline of our namesake?

I’m not sure what this ‘One Sioux Falls’ thing is all about, but it certainly isn’t about community collaboration and input.