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Eye on Sedona Code Enforcement

The Who, What and Why of Code Enforcement written by Senior Code Enforcement Officer, Glenn Sharshon, and submitted by the City of Sedona AZ

The Who, What and Why of Code Enforcement written by Senior Code Enforcement Officer, Glenn Sharshon, and submitted by the City of Sedona AZ

Sedona AZ (June 14, 2014)Code enforcement, what is it?

The City’s Code Enforcement program is administered by the Community and Economic Development Department and was created in part to help residents and business owners understand and follow the rules of city codes and ordinances and to ensure equal opportunities to create a safe, healthy, satisfying life, while enjoying the spectacular natural beauty our community offers. To carry out this mission, the City employs two full-time Code Enforcement staff members. As the City’s Senior Code Enforcement Officer, it is my responsibility to fairly, consistently, and humanely enforce the provisions of the City Code and Land Development Code. My partner is Frank Vocca, and we work for Audree Juhlin in the Community and Economic Development Department.

When asked what it is we do, I typically respond that we work toward maintaining the quality of life in Sedona for residents, business owners, and visitors. As a retired Police Chief, I frequently compare it to community policing, a philosophy that promotes organizational strategies that support the use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address issues. We’re out to make a positive difference.

This time of year, working cooperatively with the Sedona Fire District, we emphasize the importance of property owners keeping weeds and other vegetation trimmed not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for fire prevention. During the summer months, we encounter frequent noise complaints. Throughout the year, we respond to many issues such as illegal signage, abandoned vehicles, unsightly properties, the permissible color of buildings and construction activities without valid building permits.

Business owners frequently express their desire for a level playing field in which all play by the same rules. This does not always happen, so intervention sometimes becomes necessary. Mediation is a valued skill in resolving these conflicts.

An area of enhanced concern is the proliferation of short-term vacation rentals, in which owners or tenants rent out their homes, or sometimes just rooms, to visitors for less than thirty consecutive days. This practice is expressly prohibited by city ordinance. We get calls almost daily from neighbors living near short-term rentals complaining about increased traffic, noise, high occupant turnover, and the overall disruption to their single-family neighborhoods. Various websites make it simple for people to solicit guests and the easy money tempts them. By the same token, it also makes it extremely easy for Code Enforcement to identify and prosecute those individuals. Penalties can be up to $2,500 for each day of violation. We have also seen tenants evicted from their homes when the property owners find out what has been taking place.

Friends have said that my job must be difficult. Indeed, it can be challenging at times. I have taken more abuse from people over sign issues than I ever did from the people I arrested for murder during my career in law enforcement! Nevertheless, Frank and I take our job very seriously and we enjoy helping our community and making a difference. If we can be of assistance, please call us at 928-282-1154.

For the best Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!

For the best Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!

10 Comments

  1. @ Sedona City Thank you Glen for writing the article. Sedona does have a strict ordinances in regards to signage. Our McDonalds is a great example. I love your statement about keeping the level playing field level. Our members brings this up quite often.

    Understanding the ordinance is important. We encourage our members to call and ask. Some are afraid, I tell them you can always ask. Our City is more than willing to answer questions. Jim Windam was always helpful and approachable. That is how we work together by open communication. People need to feel comfortable calling our City.

    We had a few members ask if our ordinance have changed.

    It would be nice to see a post on what our City ordinance is. Could you do that? Provide us with a quick outline on the signage law for the City of Sedona? We will let everyone know.

    We had a few friends that make changes to their business signs to comply. Thank you

  2. david says:

    Speaking of signs, there are more street signs in Sedona then there are people, most of them telling us what side of the road to drive on and when to turn right,my guess is someone thinks we’re all idiots.

  3. Jim says:

    Glenn, with all due respect, I do commend you, for I do imagine that your job would have a certain level of difficulty that I personally would not wish to endure. Having been a resident to northern Arizona since 1988 and a resident to Sedona 2001, I can totally see and appreciate the concerns of citizens from an array of different perspectives that you must have all fit into the same mold.

    Personally, I attended several meetings last year about the sound ordinances and how the city’s code enforcement officers were handling it. In summary I believe because of a select few residents such as those who live in the Vista Montana subdivision ( a very small and isolated demographic relative to the rest of the residents) which is directly behind the New Frontiers Marketplace, the city has now created (BS) ordinances that now wholly prevent The Martini Bar from bringing in local musicians to the beautiful outdoor stage that is on their property.

    This is something that dozens if not on some evenings 100 people or more would delight in the enjoyment of a Wednesday summer eve with outdoor music, food, and cocktails – all of which feed our local economy and eventually bring in tax revenue to the city. Interestingly the Sedona own chamber of commerce touts Sedona as an “Arts Community” yet there is no place where locals or visitors can go to enjoy any type of outdoor music during the early evening hours, or to what used to be acceptable as a nine pm cutoff time.

    In fact, even though it is a relatively small group of individuals who have constantly and repeatedly made complainants about noise aka “music”, the entire town must now suffer as well as any visitor looking for something to do at night while here. For now we have no music.

    When I moved here in 2001, there was Sedona Cultural Park which was nothing short of an epic venue to see intimate concerts of no more than 5,000 patrons. But due to mismanagement and lack of support from the city, it went bankrupt, only to sit on the western edge of town slowly decaying, reminding us lucky enough to have experiences the magic of a music performance there once upon a time. At now time has the city made an effort to resurrect this venue, but rather allow Pine Mountain Amphitheater to steal all of our glory and potential revenue to the city’s local businesses. It gets worse, years later, the Mary J Fisher Theater was built in West Sedona, something that could have been incorporated into Sedona Cultural Park. Even our high school built a huge performing arts building that too could have been incorporated into Sedona Cultural Park. As of recently the city was trying to built some performing arts bubble in Posse Grounds, but that bubble went burst; yet another example of what could have been incorporated into Sedona Cultural Park.

    So here we are in beautiful red rock country, a place I cherish and hold in the highest regard. And we have two full time code enforcement people keeping the music down, giving honest hardworking individuals slack for petty things.

    And although I may not own my home, I do have a vested interest in this community. I think it’s time you bring back some of the musical flavor to Sedona so our residents as a whole may get to enjoy a night out. In the end, eyes there will always be a few people who you just can’t please, but the majority of our residents would find it a happier to be able to go out and socialize with fellow residents and visitors, while getting to enjoy the sounds of a soft guitar playing on an outdoor patio.

  4. Carol N. says:

    With all due respect to lovers of arts and entertainment (I happen to be among them) there remains warped thinking that the Cultural Park did, does, or should belong to the City of Sedona.

    The USFS land exchange to be used for a pavilion for outdoor performances was a private enterprise without engagement of a municipality. The exchange, though controversial, was approved providing the land would, in perpetuity, never be used for commercial purposes. That area, without benefit of feasibility studies, did not support a venue of that size which was even prior to competition from Cliff Castle Casino.

    The nearby timeshares had a fit over sound issues. The mismanagement was not and should never become a priority for the City to rectify, especially when a dedicated stream of revenue funds does not presently exist for most in-city public safety projects.

    The Performing Arts Center was voter approved via the Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District, also a source of funds unrelated to City of Sedona government. (Same as the Fire District) Our school property taxes pay for it. Sedona should not use city tax revenue for the School District either.

    The City of Sedona cannot be all things to all people. The fact that now even the college is pulling out of the Cultural Park property might just be another omen that the land should never have been traded in the first place. Same as Seven Canyons, Native Americans protested as a means to announce that their heritage deemed those lands as “sacred” and the outcome for any commercial uses might well be acknowledged as shaky at best if not down right ominous.

    Just please don’t let the financial burden fall upon the voting residents within Sedona City Limits which might very well be the end result should the City become financially involved, especially in a public-private partnership.

    Thank you.

  5. Bernie says:

    McDonalds is a perfect example of code enforcement & city aesthetics.

    Walgreens gets a passing average mark for signs. If CVS goes in at Les Springs you better be sure that I don’t see their store, no homeless & drug addicts are sitting in the car park, they have low level night sky lighting, their car park doesn’t bother my road access, etc. because we don’t need another drug store!!! We have 3500 people year round tops and Bashas/Safeway/compounding pharmacy/walgreens and others I can’t recall now serving up drugs & depends!! Disgusting city council. Where is the vision??? Tax dollars cvs generates won’t offset the other businesses going out of business because of lopsided competition!! Doesn’t anybody at the chamber=city hall know how to read business proposals?? There’s no NEED for cvs. Stop creating business ghettos with vacant shopping centers!! You want to suck in the cvs tax dollars but at what expense and loss of other business?? If cvs had any brains they’d put the store in your western gateway area OUTSIDE city limits like Enchantment did years ago with its location.

  6. Nora says:

    @Bernie’s comment re “Outside City Limits” like Enchantment translates to the following on-line ad:

    NOTE: You don’t have to stay inside the Sedona City limits to be in Sedona, AZ. (See the view here from our Sedona BB south of city limits). Hotels and B&Bs within city limits, are required to charge you an additional 6% in City Bed & Sales Taxes, which can raise your room taxes to around 13%)

    Yep, our City Council just finalized approval to “invest” in the Chamber of Commerce to advertise their members ….. ALL members ….. whether in City Limits or not!

  7. jack says:

    Look at the chambers membership list. They are a MAJORITY of NON CITY businesses.

    Smart move city council, advertising your competition. Lets watch the sales tax go down.

  8. Just Sayin' says:

    Wow, I guess it would be narrow minded to think that people who stay at Enchantment never leave the grounds? I mean after all, have you ever eaten the food there, I have?!? I don’t think that Enchantment offers their own jeep tours or tour guides for that matter. Do they have their own helicopter tours?. When Enchantment advertises across the country with tour company’s, they must always say “Come to Enchantment” and stay away from those pesky red rocks.

    While I must agree, in a perfect world, Enchantment should be in the city limits but, they’re not and if you expect the COC to NOT take their membership, you’re all crazy.

    Why not go to the Enchantment web site, they’re advertising all things Sedona all over the site. I guess that by pushing their customers to all of the shops and restaurants that are within the city limits is a bad thing?

  9. James Poole says:

    Yes they do have their own tours. They only recommend special vendors that give referral fees. BTY since the tours and other services are outside no taxes are collected.

  10. Nora says:

    @Just Sayin’ I don’t see anyone here criticizing Enchantment. It’s a very beautiful resort. Also very smart to be outside city limits and not subject to collecting city taxes. The only thing that makes me wonder about them is why do they belong to the Chamber of Commerce? They certainly do not need them. It’s the other way around. In fact, I’m so disgusted with the Chamber/City love affair I’m ready to boycott all businesses that are members of the Chamber of Commerce.

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