Sioux Falls City Council to look at repealing part of city ordinance involving drones

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Councilor Christine Erickson will introduce a repeal to city councilors on Tuesday that currently prohibits pilots to fly drones in city parks. The Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Board unanimously voted to repeal it in December. The first reading of it will be Tuesday.

Michael Klarenbeek is a UAS specialist. Right now, he has to get a permit with the Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation Department if he wants to fly within a parks system. Repealing this city ordinance would eliminate that.

"Lining those up with the FAA would be good," he said.

Don Kearney, the director of Sioux Falls Parks and Recreation, said it's just not appropriate for the city to regulate drones.

"We really don't have any authority to regulate drones in the city of Sioux Falls or in our park system," he said. "So what this essentially does is put all of the control in the FAA's hands as it relates to drones in city parks."

Councilor Christine Erickson will introduce this repeal to city council Tuesday. She said repealing it won't give pilots permission to do what they want with their drones.

"It is heavily regulated. People have to have a pilot's license. They have to go through the test. They have to follow all of the rules of what the FAA does currently enforce right now," she said.

Councilor Theresa Stehly still has some initial concerns though. She wants to make sure people are educated on the drone regulations.

"As a city councilor, as a citizen who lives here, I want everybody to be safe. So I understand it's the federal government, but it's also a concern I have," Stehly said.

Drone enthusiasts have many rules the FAA already enforces though to insure everyone's safety.

"Knowing that the federal government is in charge of the air space and to keep those rules all the same. So if someone is a hobbyist or a commercial operator goes from one town to another, they don't have to worry about all the rules of the city," Klarenbeek said.

But they should still be concerned about the rules from the FAA. All users will be directed to the FAA website for those details if this ordinance is repealed. If part of it is repealed, this could open up an opportunity for a place to host drone races, under FAA regulation.