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Eddie Maddock: The Two Faces of Sedona

SedonaEye.com columnist Eddie Maddock on the two faces of Sedona.

Sedona AZGenerally speaking there are two sides to everything. Take coins for example. Heads and tails, neither of which is necessarily better than the other except, of course, when challenged during a “Heads or Tails” call on a bet. People in general have two sides, happy or sad, cheerful or gloomy, positive or negative, nice or nasty, sweet or bitter, and so on.

However has anyone ever considered the two faces, or sides, of incorporated Sedona? For one thing being intersected by two county boundaries, Coconino to the northeast and Yavapai heading southwest, automatically offers the first challenge of its two faced existence. The suggestion of forming a new county has surfaced, but so far and based even on Sedona’s incorporation, another change in power control has not been favorably received.

Adding to almost diametrically opposed circumstances, heading towards Cottonwood (Yavapai County) the topography just beyond Sedona City Limits becomes a substantial expanse of primarily open space while travelling in the opposite direction (Coconino County) terrain becomes and remains mountainous during the SR89A drive to Flagstaff. Then, there is the designated Federal Unique Waterway, Oak Creek, which is part of the ten percent of riparian habitat that remains in the desert Southwest. There is also the eastern portion of land towards the rim that has been designated as Wilderness Area, untouchable for development.

The State Highway follows the course of Oak Creek meandering through the Coconino National Forest: It is two lanes, widened modestly with passing lanes at strategic locations. The SR89A highway, as it continues, leaves Sedona City Limits prior to reaching Midgley Bridge and, therefore, extends beyond incorporated Sedona’s jurisdiction. A relatively meager amount of property has been developed here and there, with a couple of inconspicuous resorts strategically located. Understated development assists in maintaining the majestic landscape and, generally, scenic surroundings. However and not so fast, as everything else in this area continues to evidence more congestion, the situation in Oak Creek Canyon remains essentially the same – with the exception, of course, of increased traffic.

A recent ADOT traffic study found the majority of Sedona AZ traffic backs up miles to drive through the Sedona city limits and continues without stopping through Oak Creek canyon to reach Flagstaff and Grand Canyon.

Legitimate SR89A parking continues to be minimal, and illegal parking along the narrow two-lane highway becomes increasingly more problematic and dangerous. Just recently the Oak Creek Watershed Restoration assessment was finalized under the Red Rock Ranger District for the purpose of protecting and improving watershed conditions, maintaining a healthy riparian habitat for plants, and protecting wildlife. This will necessitate closing even more unauthorized roadside parking pullouts. Specifically, out of 59 existing pullouts, Arizona Department of Transportation intends to close 26 in addition to the larger pavement project currently in progress.

Considering this State Route was authorized to traverse through a national forest, under jurisdiction of the USFS National Environmental Policy Act, any consideration for it to ever become a four-lane highway remains highly unlikely if not impossible. A more feasible option in the distant future might be consideration to upgrade an existing dirt road extending from Schnebly Hill Road which, does in fact, connect with AZ I-17 just west of Flagstaff. But it might be suggested you don’t hold a breath for even one second in anticipation of witnessing such an event firsthand for a long, long time and possibly never.

While the Eastern face of Sedona has very limited vacant developable land available, it still remains the hot spot for tourists to shop. The uptown Sedona label established that designation many years before Sedona officially incorporated to become city status. This is an amazing contrast to the layout of Sedona’s other face heading to West Sedona.

Within the confines of Sedona City Limits, it is true that time has eaten up sizeable tracts of land with development of various types. Small strip malls have sprung up along the widened West SR89A corridor along with lodging facilities and numerous restaurants. However, Sedona’s other face at the “Y roundabout” tells a different story. The proposed redesign and implementation of SR89A highway slip-lanes has already uprooted businesses in a strip mall next to what was once the Chevron gas station. Except for one, the shops are vacant! And, at this writing, it’s possible that it, too, has shuttered its welcome sign!

Oak Creek Canyon photo courtesy of Oak Creek Watershed.

So Sedona growth clearly has only one direction to occur which is outside Sedona City Limits via the SR89A route to Cottonwood. Although not within incorporated Sedona’s authorized jurisdiction, the city council had the opportunity to extend their disapproval of the proposed massive 700 mobile home and RV site rezoning of the El Rojo Grande Ranch development in November of 2018. Rezoning was denied.

Currently a new development seeking rezoning is on the Yavapai County drawing board: The developers of what is called Spring Creek Ranch are requesting a zone change on their property near Cornville, Arizona from rural residential in order to establish a higher density development. Because of intense public outcry, developers have downsized a request for rezoning to 2,100 housing units; 1,500 manufactured or site-built home lots, 200 may be used for recreational vehicle pads, 400 rental units, and a 200 unit assisted living facility. The Cornville Community Association among others intensely oppose this development.

A development of this magnitude can never happen on the other side of Sedona’s face specifically because geographically the terrain cannot accommodate it. Primarily in Sedona, the existence of Coconino County is rarely acknowledged despite remaining the tourist cash cow of Sedona. The larger part of incorporated Sedona lies within Yavapai County, including its Sedona City Hall.

Could it be there is a higher power in charge sending a message to convey that in spite of the beauty of the sun rising and setting on the exquisite red rocks of Sedona two faces still exist – and more than ever acknowledging and respecting their existence has never been more important?

One cannot spend just one half of a heads or tails coin. It’s a package deal, as is our two county Sedona. That extends even further. Every issue under discussion at a Sedona City Council meeting has at least two faces and isn’t it prudent for elected officials to keep that in mind when deciding direction?


  1. Mike says:

    A friend called saying she saw an ad for Sedona in Phoenix airport!! We don’t need people coming up from airports if they don’t live here!! What’s wrong with you people in city hall & Chamber? You put them up in your homes, you entertain them and cook for them, them you drive them back down but don’t let them mingle with us. We don’t need or want the virus here. Don’t you care? We’re your income and job providers. Get some smarts.

  2. Sedona Phil says:

    agree but don’t vote for those you don’t want, leave it blank, even if all are blank, write somebody’s name in to make your points

  3. Voting says:

    If voting changed anything it would be illegal.

    No matter who you vote for the government always wins.

    Nobody will keep their campaign promises. Nobody will listen to your concerns. Nobody cares. Nobody tells the truth. VOTE FOR NOBODY!

  4. Artman says:

    Hilton builds its Tru hotel to be retrofitted into housing if the economy goes bust. They build it to reflect quality zoning and HOAs and CCRs requirements, they never build to max zoning. There’s no big hotels being built because the forecast shows they aren’t in demand. No more than 3 stories with basements hold value and basements need to be built with eye to small town commercial. Seems like there’s not many intelligent investor/builders in Sedona and let’s get a bigger picture than Sedona slice and dice zoning by stuck on a rock people. Small boutique hotels built Sedona style. Convert them to studio apartments when business goes bust. Win win for city.

  5. Catona says:

    It is extremely important that everyone VOTES in Sedona elections to change the city council and elect people who will do what RESIDENTS want them to do, not the Lodging Council and Sedona Chamber of Commerce. Sandy and Jessica, I’m sorry, but you are tired and completely out of touch. Or completely beholden to the chamber and the IMO ignorant city manager and staff members who just keep doing the same old thing. Ain’t gonna change if we don’t vote.

    More funding of chamber advertising programs, big salary for the chamber CEO
    More hotels
    More lame “sustainability” programs that are only fronts for the chamber
    More phony budget “surveys” that are only covers and fronts for the same old budget tricks and giving money to the chamber of commerce

    I WANT
    City council members who study up and ask questions instead of just going along with the city manager
    Better roads in my neighborhood, fix the freaking potholes and crumbling pavement!
    More services like yard waste pickup
    Better maintained parks and finish the gole darn park on Brewer Road
    Lower sewer rates, use the money you give to the chamber to reduce rates
    Fewer stupid development ideas like an eyesore parking garage to support more tourism

    Our current council members, with a couple exceptions, are utterly clueless and simply act like sheep. Every chance I get, I will vote for CHANGE. Keep this in mind the next time Home Rule comes up. If the city won’t change and listen to residents, we need to exercise OUR power to stop them from spending our money.

  6. Alexa to Catona says:


    How sad you sound.

  7. Shut the city down !! says:

    Dis incorporation. It can be done and it is the only permanent solution. Establishing a city for Sedona was a mistake, but it can be fixed.

    Shut the City of Sedona down !!!

  8. steve Segner says:

    March 15, 2020 at 4:32 pm
    Dis incorporation. It can be done and it is the only permanent solution. Establishing a city for Sedona was a mistake, but it can be fixed.
    Shut the City of Sedona down !!! you are nuts no city in Arizona has ever been Dis incorporation it can not be done because the city has bonds that must be paid and as long as money is owed no city can go away. hope that helps

  9. @shut the city down says:

    You’ve been saying that for year now.!!! Nobody is listening to you except you and you small minded ego. Give it rest

  10. @steve Segner says:

    Keep dreaming. Cities go bankrupt, cities can be shut down. That is a risk the bond issuers take. Nothing is guaranteed forever. In your dreams you will always get money you don’t deserve from an uninformed council and a corrupt staff.

    Hope this helps.

  11. Mike H says:

    “Shut Sedona Down. ” It has a nice ring to it.

    Segner thinks his (deleted by editor) will go on forever. Being a high school dropout, and proud of it, he has never heard of a stock or bond becoming worthless. He’s never heard of a town becoming a ghost town either. There are two ways to learn, from history or from personal experience. Can you guess Segner’s preferred method?

  12. Jack Goodwin, Arizona says:

    Arizona State Legislature

    Title 9 – Cities and Towns

    9-132. Disincorporation

    Upon petition of two-thirds of the qualified electors residing within a city or town located in more than one county, the boards of supervisors of the respective counties, meeting in joint session may disincorporate the city or town, and appoint a trustee with authority to terminate the affairs of the corporation, sell and convey its property, real and personal, pay the debts of the city or town and deposit the surplus of the proceeds of the property in the county treasury to be there disposed of for the improvement of roads in the vicinity in which the city or town is situated. Such proceeds shall be distributed by the trustee to the respective counties in the proportion that the population of the city or town within each county bore to the total population of the city or town, according to the most recent regular or special federal census.

  13. Steve Segner says:

    One The residents of Sedona we’re happy with the city government are either last election to the local counties are happy with Sedona government because they don’t want to have to take over responsibility Iii you can’t this band and in a team that I was money under federal law why don’t you just mov On a sidenote I find it interesting it when you attacked me as being a high school dropout then you attack me as having a estate up the canyon what is it is it just heat or envy

  14. Mary C says:

    I second : SHUT THE CITY OF SEDONA DOWN !!!!!!

  15. Balzac says:

    Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.

    Honore de Balzac

    Not that your fortune is that great (name deleted by editor). Even con men live high on the hog for a while.

  16. Lisa Green says:

    Begin now to organize a neighborhood coronavirus social media network. Exchange phone numbers and email addresses.

    Limit social networks to close by neighbors. Use TELE HEALTH if you are on Medicare. Take the time to learn how now while you are healthy. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities should be closed to the public because their healthcare workers need to stay healthy!

    Limit the conversation to items that you can share, swap or barter. Have the right items in your medicine cabinets and lots of anti bacterial hand soap. Wash your hands every hour. Get in practice.

    Exchange your items in plastic bags and have your neighbors drop and swap without physical contact.

    Wipe all cans, jars before opening or stocking with Lysol or Clorox or bleach before delivering and after you receive it.

    Learn to drink tap water. Buy filters and a pitcher if you feel it necessary. Flush your toilets less.

    Share your needs and share when you venture out to stores — ask your neighbors if they need you to pick items up for them. Use PayPal or other virtual means of paying each other.

    If every American acts properly and avoids social interaction and shelters in place, the virus will not devastate our population. Your behavior may determine if someone becomes ill.

    If you know someone physically incapacitated housebound in your neighborhood or building, arrange to share your meals by using paper plates and drop off at the door without contact. Work out a schedule now so they know and you know what and when.

    If you have the virus or suspect you have the virus, follow the guidelines.

    Everyone working together will save lives.

  17. @ LIsa green says:

    You’re a sucker.

    Read: https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/does-2019-coronavirus-exist?utm_campaign=Daily%20Newsletter%3A%20Coronavirus%20-%20Cowdan%20-%20Fixed%20%28Ji2mSU%29&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Daily%20Newsletter&_ke=eyJrbF9lbWFpbCI6ICJ3NjM0NTc4OUB5YWhvby5jb20iLCAia2xfY29tcGFueV9pZCI6ICJLMnZYQXkifQ%3D%3D

    “There is no proof that a virus is being detected by the test and there is absolutely no concern about whether there are a significant number of false positives on the test.”

    “The coronavirus panic is just that, an irrational panic, based on an unproven RNA test, that has never been connected to a virus.”

  18. Prediction says:

    City Council calls for a special meeting (behind closed doors).

    City Council will use global coronavirus as justification for another way to attempt taxing residents in order to contract with chamber of commerce on behalf of lodging council to increase funding to C of C amateurs to come up with a solution to this global disaster.

    Surviving the virus should be easy for Sedona residents. It’s been survival for us for how many years just to combat the cancer inflicted to our quality of life induced by questionable decisions at City Hall.

    Well guess what, Folks? The treacherous disease doesn’t pick and choose. Unlike the monster unleashed by city councils allowing control of Sedona to fall into the hands of greed mongers and control freaks.

    Upside? We residents are tough. Once businesses are forced to closed who will be left? It ain’t gonna be many of the opportunists who choked the charm out of Sedona. Survival of the fittest will prevail. Wait and see.

  19. Jan Wayne says:

    Sure this global crisis is serious – get that. But …….. does it give Sedona city government license to violate the Open Meeting Law? Did they have a meeting this very afternoon consisting of a quorum (4 or more) and not give notice to the public?

    C’mon. Nothing like taking advantage of a critical situation. Shame, shame everybody knows your names. And the rules.

  20. Steve segner says:

    File a complaint with the AG‘s office or quit b*******

  21. Mike Campbell says:

    It sure would have been nice for Sedona to have a diversified economy. Perhaps making it a good place to retire. NOPE SEDONA IS A TOURIST TOWN.

    What is happening to tourist towns now geniuses? Is this the first time there has been a tourist downturn? I think not.

    It would have been nice to have some more high income retired people. Don’t say Air B&B bull. There would not have been a demand without all the incessant chamber advertising.

    Reap what you have sown.

  22. Lynn M says:

    It seems as if this incorporated Sedona is just so accustomed to writing their own rules they forget about State Laws. For once Steve segner is correct:


    It won’t be the first time Sedona has been taken to task for non-compliance with the Open Meeting Law.

  23. C @steve s says:

    They won’t they just like to pretend they change things but really they do is complain

  24. Paul N. says:

    After Sedona incorporated it had only one face: Development.

    Then as time progressed it acquired another face: Chamber of Commerce

    Presently there’s a fork in the road called coronavirus. This is a globally crippling disease and no one is spared.

    Sedona declares a state of emergency. All restaurants are closed. Tourists are no longer welcome. The hand that fed Sedona tax base has been severed. And what will happen next?

    Well, of course, turn to residents of Sedona to cough up funds and provide financial stability during these difficult times? Ha – the snide remarks from protesters against “complainers” quite possibly represent those who will now be begging the “whiners” to cough up funding (taxes) to sustain Sedona through this most tragic time.

    Forget it! The lack of respect and consideration for Sedona residents over the years has been despicable and let us all be grateful we DO NOT HAVE A CITY PROPERTY TAX. That, Folks, is perhaps at least one blessing that went along with the stupid approval of incorporation many years ago and something for which to be grateful during this extremely sad and difficult situation.

  25. Kent & JoAnn A. says:

    Well said @Paul N. Thank you!

  26. Nancy Johnson Lower Red Rock Loop says:

    OMG, it’s always the same people (deleted by editor). You’re so unhappy here that no one listens to your whimpering, just move.

  27. Jerry Uptown says:

    And why @Nancy Johnson Lower Red Rock Loop should you care about Sedona residents complaining? You are not in city limits & don’t vote here & have no say on how city of Sedona is run. So either practice what you preach or whimper away in your own territory. Butt out of Sedona politics!

  28. Professional staff says:

    Romans 1:22 describes the government, business, and academic elites well: “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” (KJV)

  29. Mandrake the Magician says:

    Aha as I look into my crystal ball there is deep despair with a recession. But, Hark, the sun shines brightly because the future city council will pay big dollars to the chamber of commerce to reinvent Sedona by promoting only their members, mostly outside city limits who contribute nothing to city coffers, while refusing to promote legitimate city licensed businesses that managed to survey hard times (if any of them are left to promote).

    Hope you all rot on the Jordan Road property owned by the chamber of commerce purchased with Sedona city taxes. @#&*($%@#)

  30. Bingo! says:

    Oh @Mandrake the Magician you truly are a wizard. It doesn’t take a member of Mensa to predict the Chamber’s future money grab to reinvent Sedona’s financial losses during an economic turndown (if that in fact occurs), it does take guts to document it prior to the event.

    Coronavirus? Let the opportunistic ghouls jump on it for future profits. Isn’t that shoe perfect for the city/chamber love affair? BLAH & BARF!

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