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Eddie Maddock: To Rise or Not to Rise

SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie Maddock tackles Sedona affordability.

Sedona AZAmong Sedona’s ongoing controversies and linked with lack of affordable housing, to rise or not to rise remains near the top of the list – if not THE number one hot topic.

While Sedona is special in many ways, a shortage of workforce housing to accommodate local employees is not unique. Frequent articles relating to the subject have appeared in the Arizona Republic, most recently “Phoenix Trades Incentives for Affordable Housing” (2/17/19) that outlines similar concerns as well as proposed remedies. Extending incentives to developers, such as a tax break to those willing to offer a percentage of their new apartment units at a reduced rate is, but one example.

Over the years Sedona has likewise attempted to acknowledge the need for more affordable housing as was the case with Nepenthe and other projects. Development Agreements also included stipulations requiring a certain number of lower cost units to be provided for employees. However, whether or not those contingencies were subsequently enforced remains questionable.

At any rate, fast-forward to today.

Presently under consideration is construction of a multi-unit housing complex to be located within the primarily industrial area between Sunset and Shelby Drives. The connecting road between those two city streets is neither owned by the city, nor is the property wastewater accessible. Sedona’s city code presently restricts building heights – thus construction of a three or even four story edifice also becomes problematic – therefore addressing the purpose of the theme of this report “To Rise or Not to Rise.”

During the recent process relating to a request for rezoning of the 700 acre parcel outside Sedona City Limits, El Rojo Grande, for the purpose of questionable high density development, the Sedona City Council along with Yavapai County Supervisors and the public in general took kindred positions to successfully oppose rezoning of that property for such an intrusive project. And, let us not forget about the somewhat vast acreage the City of Sedona still owns in conjunction with the Wastewater Treatment Plant for which, on more than one occasion, mixed-use and lower cost housing has been under discussion but never seriously pursued.

Yet now, at this time, with Sedona’s intense traffic congestion realistically without any viable solution, no matter how this Sunset and Shelby multi-unit housing proposal is viewed, no amount of spinning can and or will dispute that increased density will intensify traffic gridlock even more.

ADOT blasting of red rock mountain to make way for I-17 road widening.

It remains almost certain defense for a 3 or 4 story complex will be met with justification because of its more low profile location with the extensive setback from SR89 – perhaps a somewhat valid argument. However, it also poses questions: Would these same city council members have voted to approve existing establishments to exceed two or three or four stories such as Wyndham Sedona, Courtyard by Marriott, Sedona Springs Resort, Sedona Real Inn & Suites, and even our own City Hall for that matter? If that had occurred, views of Sedona’s red rock would have been forever obstructed as actually has already been the case even with the Basha’s center and other shopping centers. Only the few remaining who lived in Sedona back then would be able to attest to that. And, really, should it be ignored, if approved, this, with valid certainty, will set a precedent for future construction?

Wasn’t a primary reason, in fact, for Sedona to incorporate and become a city to avoid the increasingly dense development presently in progress?

Where will all the remaining red rocks go? To parking lots and highways and tourists going and gone.

Have demographics and attitudes of Sedona residents changed so drastically with the times – as is being evidenced by variances and development standards for the short supply of remaining privately owned property available?

Will Sedona, reputed as such a very special place, continue to be compromised and eroded to the status of “just another tourist trap?”

Judging from Sedona’s sluggish voting participation and subsequent results as evidenced by the outcome of the last Sedona City Election surely that must be the case.

Therefore – onward and upward – literally!

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290 Comments

  1. SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH.... says:

    We are at that Point, wake up Sedona, do your job for the residents that do not own hotels

    How Amsterdam is fighting back against mass tourism

    https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/amsterdam-overtourism/index.html?utm_source=pocket-newtab

  2. John Daniels W Sedona says:

    To CBRealtor

    I didn’t know that the city revolved around you. I truly hope that the city also does those neighborhood connectors so that you can feel just as safe!

  3. Marilyn T. says:

    Wow @John Daniels W Sedona. And who are you to criticize what seemed to be a logical question? What about left turn lanes from SR89 onto Forest Road?

    You obviously don’t have an answer to that or your response wouldn’t have circumvented the question. More and more comments made on Sedona Eye seem to be the same – to evade logical questions or attempt to divert any opposition to what Sedona’s “establishment(?)” is doing.

    SR89 uptown was turned into a complete disaster after the City took ownership which is one reason millions of $$$$ are now being spent to redo the damn mess (which includes extension of Forest Road). Makes as much sense as considering overhead pedestrian crosswalks at Tlaquepaque. (high enough to clear big semis). Brilliant! Same as consideration of left turns from 89 onto Forest Road once the extension is completed?

  4. @Marilyn T says:

    Obviously, you haven’t lived in Sedona long enough to know why things were done back then.

    The city took over Uptown because ADOT wanted to eliminate all on-street parking and the city knew it would kill the store’s profits.

    If you bothered to read the RRN you would know that overhead crosswalks aren’t high on the list of considerations for Tlaquepaque.

    Perhaps it’s you that shouldn’t be criticizing others when you don’t know your facts!

  5. Amy says:

    @@Marilyn T Overhead crosswalks? Never a serious thought to overhead anything at Tlaq when there’s a roundabout crosswalk perfect for doing the job feet away. What needs eliminating is that crosswalk at its gate and big problem goes away. The roundabout allows cars to continue without interference and several road engineers weighed in on it and proved it works. Tlaq chose to obfuscate for their selfish interests as is their right and Council gave in which took my resident rights?

  6. steve Segner says:

    @@Marilyn T Overhead crosswalks? Never a serious thought to overhead anything at Tlaq
    let’s see what the traffic study numbers say first, 95% of the time no one is in the cross walk. I use it 10 to 12 time a day. Lets remember it will be ADOT’S call not the city. I think the cross walk helps traffic ,it allows spacing of cars traffic at the”Y” so people can slip in but I know no one will agree with me. Let see what the traffic study say.

  7. Levan Edwards says:

    Hi Marylyn. T

    Boy are you correct. You answered your own question. You see how many comments came after your post. (deleted by editor)

  8. @@Marilyn T says:

    John Daniels is correct in saying 89A has become a complete disaster. Not only did the City take away ADOT’s 89A merge lane Uptown residents driving down Jordan Road took when going to West Sedona, etc., the City also narrowed the width of 89A through the Uptown tourist district for sidewalk widening purposes.

    As former councilman Harvey Stearn said: “Someone pulls up to wait for a car to back out of a space and the backer has to back right into traffic.”

    In fact, before the City took over ownership of Uptown 89A, incoming drivers could pull out of traffic to wait and parked drivers had room to back up without being in the roadway. And drivers looking to turn right onto Jordan Road had a little space on 89A to get out of the traffic lane. Now that space is part of the sidewalk.

  9. Henry says:

    @steve You use it 10-12 x daily. Best traffic study is your personal evaluation and comment “95% of time no one is in cross walk”. Save the $$ city and stop fixing non issues for residents who plan shopping/appointments during off tourist peak hours, we don’t need crosswalks or more roads.

  10. Steve segner says:

    The reason forest Road is going through is primarily safety, the people in uptown can get out when a threat Or evacuation .the fire department can get to West Sedona without going through the Y and also make it easier for locals to go to West Sedona and take pressure off the y all excellent reasons let’s try to remember it’s not always about you

  11. Fred S. says:

    Congratulations @Steve segner. You finally made a statement that’s 100% correct:

    ” let’s try to remember it’s not always about you”

    Maybe that’s because all of us don’t have the “in” at City Hall with city council & staff as most assuredly it appears you have them all eating out of your hand. Suggestion for Sedona’s theme song “Whatever Stevie Wants, Stevie Gets”.

  12. steve Segner says:

    Fred S. says: Maybe that’s because all of us don’t have the “in” at City Hall with city council & staff as most assuredly it appears you have them all eating out of your hand.
    Fred, I support the city and staff in what they do.We have good people and they work hard I know what they do because I get involved.
    The Red rock news has a great editorial this week on the miss information on social media. What I post is the real information and number. If any one who posts on Sedona eye had gone to the last two budget meeting or any planing meeting you would have the information the same as me.

  13. Braden says:

    Red Rock news hasn’t had a decent editorial or post for years. Social media has best finger on peoples thoughts & Snapchat leaves no trace. Go SRRHS grads.

  14. Steve Segner says:

    Braden says: “Social media has best finger on peoples thoughts & Snapchat leaves no trace”. Well not the finger they use to vote with.

  15. @Braden says:

    Your right about social media (Deleted by Editor). I saw on FB that there are actually people getting signatures in the VOC to try and stop the proposed hotel there.. that’s action and not just complaining (Deleted by Editor).

  16. steve Segner says:

    FYI more good news from Red rock news The new tax to fund traffic improvements are not paid 100% by residents. City and Sedona Chamber of Commerce staff estimate tourists fund about 75% of the city’s budget, which includes paying about 75% of the 0.5% sales tax increase City Council passed last year explicitly for Sedona in Motion projects.
    Sedona in Motion is not a group. It is a city docu­ment and a traffic plan.
    Sedona has no property tax. There is a property tax on Sedona properties, but that is imposed by the Sedona-Oak Creek School District, Sedona Fire District and either Yavapai or Coconino county, depending on what side of the county line a property is located. Zero goes directly to the city of Sedona.

  17. John Wilson says:

    @steve Segner, your comment adds nothing to what we don’t already know.

    The reason Sedona has NO CITY PROPERTY TAX is because voters would never have approved incorporation if that hadn’t been made a contingency. And further to add a city property tax now would require voter approval.

    And BTW why shouldn’t tourists be paying for ALL the road improvements at this time? Aren’t they the very reason it’s needed? It sure isn’t because of residents who, incidentally, were dumb enough to approve incorporation in the first place. You should be thanking them for that if nothing else.

    However based on the results of the last election maybe now would be a good time to resurrect a ballot measure for approval of a city property tax since voters approved election of socialists to fill city council seats. Things just continue to go the way you want them so enjoy life and discontinue trying to educate the few us us remaining who still have clear vision.

    Just keep your door-knockers busy using scare tactics to achieve votes next election and your good fortune will continue to amass. Proof has been made evident and thus we don’t need your useless prattle reminding us of what we already know.

  18. Public Service Announcement says:

    ALERT:
    We all Pay Property Taxes.

    These taxes fund the Fire District, School District, Sedona Public Library, Flood Control and other items.The city of Sedona receives a prorated share of Flood control property tax dollar from both counties.

    Since they offer NO services like a fire DEPARTMENT or city owned library They DON’T qualify for property taxes. If the city wanted to get a specific additional tax via property tax, the VOTERS would have to vote that in.

    PS the city receives money from the state it is based off of population.

  19. F.Y.I. says:

    Ridiculous and slimy IMO is the Chamber of Commerce staff’s estimate that “tourists fund about 75% of the city’s budget.” [Ref.: June 3rd comment from steve Segner.]

    FY 2018 city budget: $ 47,752,118.

    FY 2018 annual City sales tax revenues: $!8,383,517, not all funded by visitors.

    >>>>>Sales Tax Revenues by Category [FY 2018]:
    Retail…..$6,185,202
    Restaurant & Bar…..$3,859,442
    Hotel/Motel…..$4,053,039
    Construction…..$11,270,064
    Leasing…..$1,396,438
    Communications & Utilities…..$584,656
    Amusements & Other….$1,044,678

    FY 2018 Shared State Sales Taxes [ignored/not included]…..$998,202

  20. Joyce McClain says:

    But FYI, dincha know? Without the Chamber of Commerce Sedona wouldn’t have been discovered. RIGHT! (that’s what “they” have City Hall believing) And yet that’s the policy Sedona voters approved to continue. Go figure????

  21. Get Real says:

    Jennifer Wesselhoff wrote in “Tourism plan serves as national model,” May 31, 2019 Red Rock News, that “Sedona is one of several Arizona cities that fund tourism management through visitor-paid bed taxes. . .”

    Wow, BS beyond the pale!! The only other city in Arizona that awards bed tax funds from the city: Cottonwood. And it’s only $200,000 a year. No other city does this.

  22. steve Segner says:

    So, Get Real your point is?
    Sedona is a much larger tourist draw the cottonwood, 75% of funding for the city is from visitors and they pay for all marketing and management through visitor-paid bed taxes.
    You should be happy, Sedona will grow we have thousands of home lots and miles of commercial lots on 179 and 89a and Phoenix is one of the fastest growing areas in America.
    The bed tax now goes for visitor and community services the days of a split with the city are over.
    Marketing is for off seasons, lets remember 10,000 people make their living in Sedona from tourism. And this is such a scary topic you can’t use a real name ? if you want a small town time to move

  23. @get Real says:

    @get Real
    That’s because Cottonwood only has approx 10 hotels whereas in Sedona must have over 50.. Get real will ya. And use a real comparison .

  24. @@Get Real says:

    @@Get Real. There’s no other comparison. As stated, Cottonwood is the only city other than Sedona that awards bed tax funds.

    My point was that Jennifer Wesselhoff lied when she claimed in the RRN that “Sedona is one of several Arizona cities that fund tourism management through visitor-paid bed taxes..” Other than Cottonwood and Sedona, no other cities in Arizona do this.

    Sedona does not have over 50 hotels.

  25. Steve Segner says:

    Cotton wood has, car dealers, Walmart, Home depo and more retail to fund the city with salex tax dollars. Sedona has Tourism 76%+ of all city projects are paid for by visitors. The chamber does not get a % of bed tax ,it gets what the city council gives it to for fill it’s contract. The chamber had a full audit this year and passed with flying colors. The Destination marketing is paid for with city funds coming from the bed tax. the city council just passed the plan last month hope that help

  26. The Real Deal says:

    Yada, Yada, Yada – @Steve Segner. There “ain’t” no other municipality on record that donates money to their chamber of commerce the way Sedona does. Destination marketing should have appropriately gone out for competitive bidding. The voting residents of Sedona did NOT elect the the regional chamber of commerce to represent US!!!

    And Steve Segner is CORRECT!! It’s the CITY COUNCIL ALLOWING IT TO HAPPEN

  27. @Steve Segner says:

    Gee Whiz @Steve Segner! BREAKING NEWS!! Sedona is NOT Cotton wood (wherever that is) and COTTONWOOD (the real deal) is NOT Sedona!!!!

    What is it you don’t get about that?

    And the excessive services to which you keep harping ARE: TOURIST RELATED!!!! So WHY shouldn’t TOURISTS be PAYING FOR THEM?

    It IS NOT the City of Sedona’s responsibility to FUND the “REGIONAL” Chamber of Commerce. They have yet to PROVE it would be more cost effective if the City of Sedona sponsored their own Visitors Center.

    Shut up your yapping, Segner. Most legitimate residents in Sedona resent the rip off ongoing deal with municipal funding going to the membership organization aka Chamber of Commerce. We neither need them nor want them to promote Sedona.

    And one thing you are correct about, Segner. IT IS THE CITY COUNCIL TO BLAME FOR THIS TRAVESTY. And more important, IT IS THE REGISTERED VOTERS IN SEDONA WHO ALLOW THIS TO CONTINUE.

  28. Jim Poole says:

    Sedona used to bring in the locals to shop & dine, Now we all go to elsewhere. Greed. City is driving people out not in. VOC and the outlying areas have many great places to eat drink, music we don’t have to feed the beast.

  29. Persistent idiot says:

    I think the chamber supporters are just trying to wear readers out repeating this tourists pay 76%plus of Sedona expenses. It’s been proven factually as a lie so many times it’s gotten boring.

  30. Ted says:

    Q’s? the flying colors award to chamber for audit given by who? who did the audit? it’s public money and FOIA request should get copy of audit? name those tunes council / staff

  31. F.Y.I. says:

    Speaking of funding the “REGIONAL” Chamber of Commerce, among those commenting in support of the Chamber’s plan of work, contract with the City, and preliminary FY20 budget ($2,492,500) during the May 28, 2019 City Council Mtg. was Stan Kantowski, managing director of the Enchantment Resort.

  32. Steve segner says:

    I don’t want to make this sound too simple but all you have to do is call the city and ask Please show me one instance where the number 70% plus of all income to the city comes from visitors is wrong,city manager says it’s correct city finance department says is correct state of Arizona finance department says it’s correct please show us a document stating that it’s wrong , last week at the hotel association meeting city manager use the number 76 and higher sorry .

  33. Public Service Announcement says:

    If the Sedona Lodging group was as good as they claim they wouldn’t need to have the taxpayers pay for their marketing. IMO They’d have enough money to pay their own bills.

  34. Jess Wundrin says:

    Still cannot understand why this city council – and past – bought into Steve Segner’s initial spiel of just trust us during the original advertising contract negotiations. They did then and continue to do just that! What kind of people make decisions based on a word of mouth Just Trust US or was it Just Trust ME ME ME.

    Bizarre? Gullible? Ignorant? Thick Thieves?

  35. Sedona Sam says:

    @Jess Wundrin ever wonder why council meetings now televised have such sparse attendance from “legitimate” Sedona residents? It used to be standing room only. Mayor Sandy lived here then. Ask her if you don’t believe. People once actually had a voice in Sedona. NO MORE unless you happen to be representing the TRUE governing entity of incorporated: misnamed “Sedona” = Chamber of Commerce and cooperative branch of Sedona Lodging Council.

    RIP OFF, RIP OFF, RIP OFF

    and worse yet city staff endorses it and allows it to continue. For those who FaceBook check out BFFs Sedona Asst City Mgr & Pres/CEO Sedona Chamber of Commerce. ‘Nuf said?

  36. Get Real says:

    Steve segner is wrong (June 13 at 1:24 pm)

    The SEDONA COMMUNITY REPORT SPRING 2018, published by the city of Sedona, states under Sedona Facts (Page 2): “FY 2017 city revenues generated by sales & bed taxes . . . .57%, two thirds of which is paid by visitors.”
    Two thirds of 57% is 38%.

    Other income that comes to the City: State Shared Revenues, i.e., Sales Taxes, Urban Revenue Sharing, Vehicle License Taxes, and Highway User Funds; in addition, Franchise Fees; Donations and Contributions; Rental Income; In-Lieu Fees; and Wastewater Fees.

  37. @Sedona Sam says:

    Sedona Sam are you saying that Mayor Sandy doesn’t live in the city???? If so, that means that I’ve been visiting some other little gray-haired fisty women in her living room. Which is in West Sedona

  38. @get real says:

    Your funny. You must be using the math that the failed mayor candidate uses.. LMAO

  39. LJ in Cottonwood says:

    So what if Stan Kantowski of Enchantment spoke at the May 28 Sedona City Council meeting @F.Y.I. 6/13? Our business in Cottonwood is getting business from Sedona residents and tourism groups and we thank the Sedona City Council and their generous support. They do a dynamite job promoting our Cottonwood members and Jerome, Camp Verde and other places. It’s good for us. Why do you get to have all the tourists stay there/eat there/tour there when we can handle them better and cheaper? We’ll go to the Chamber Mixer June 25 at Blazin’M here, its a venue for the whole family about our Southwest, something Sedona doesn’t offer. The Mixers let us showcase Cottonwood and get some business making Chamber membership worth it for us, we’ve got cheap taxes, more venues, hiking, rivers, creeks, red rocks, Montezuma Castle, Tuzigoot, Jerome gold, Cottonwood sites, and people that don’t like Sedona for its whack jobs – out of state & out of step. We’ll count our profits and remind one another not to look your gift horse Sedona chamber of commerce in the mouth! Lot’s of gold inlays in Sedona horsey’s teeth we can extract.

  40. @@sedona sam says:

    from @sedonasam comment you understood & wrote WHAT???? reading comprehension score must’ve been poor as a kid & no improvement??? that comment said mayor is long timer here, okay. . . let’s say it said mayor’s old & MY take on it . . . was mayor should know better?

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