Mayor Paul TenHaken expressed disapproval last night of the patrons he saw packing the parking lots of a couple Sioux Falls bars last night:
I agree with Mayor TenHaken. Going to a bar exemplifies the kind of nonessential, risky, and, frankly, selfish behavior that undermines the anti-pandemic effects of the sacrifices lots of other South Dakotans are making.
Sioux Falls doctor Brian Brennan replied to Mayor TenHaken’s tweet with a pretty clear recommendation that the Mayor order the bars to close. Mayor Tenhaken replied, “There are many assumptions that the mayor has unlimited authority. Every state/city has different laws and ordinances that govern them. I will continue to lead to the furthest extent of my ability under law.”
I would suggest that the health and sanitation ordinances of the Queen City of the East authorize the city to shut down public health hazards:
§ 92.070 PROHIBITED.
No person shall create, commit, maintain or permit to be created, committed or maintained any nuisance within the city.
§ 92.071 ILLUSTRATIVE ENUMERATION.
Whatever is or imminently may become hazardous or dangerous to human health, whatever renders the ground, the water, the air, or food a hazard or an injury to human health, or whatever annoys, injures, or endangers the health, comfort, or safety of others… are, each and all of them, hereby declared to constitute nuisances….
§ 92.074 ABATEMENT BY CITY; COSTS LEVIED AGAINST PREMISES.
When there exists on private property a condition which has been determined a nuisance by a city enforcement employee, a notice will be served in the matter specified in § 92.072. The notice will describe the matter to be removed or corrected and require removal or correction thereof within 14 days. The city health officer may shorten the timeframe for removal or correction if the health officer determines the nuisance item(s) presents a significant risk to the public health if not removed or corrected in less than 14 days. If the city health officer determines a shortened timeframe is appropriate in a particular case, the shortened timeframe shall be set forth in the notice. Any additional nuisance conditions not previously observed, or that may have been added to the property after the city’s inspection(s), must also be removed or corrected within the timeframe specified in the notice of violation. If at the end of the 14 days, or less as set forth in the notice, the nuisance has not been removed or corrected, the city shall have authority to cause the correction or removal and disposition. All costs incurred by the city for the removal and disposition of the nuisance or for correcting the nuisance shall be assessed, levied and collected as a special assessment payable in one sum or by up to five equal annual installments as the city council may provide against the premises from which it was removed, in the manner provided by law for the levy and collection of other special assessments [emphasis added; Sioux Falls City Code, retrieved 2020.03.22].
Governor Kristi Noem has declared a statewide state of emergency to stop the coronavirus pandemic, and the CDC has recommended that communities with minimal or moderate spread of covid-19 cancel all gatherings of ten or more people for the next couple weeks. Minnehaha County is one of only two counties in South Dakota that has reported multiple cases of covid-19 (five in Minnehaha, ten in Beadle). If Sioux Falls residents are too thirsty or too dumb to pause their barhopping for a couple weeks to help prevent thousands of South Dakotans from getting sick and overwhelming our healthcare infrastructure, Mayor TenHaken could make a solid legal case for shutting down the public health threat those barhoppers pose to all of us.