By Guest Columnist Steve Segner
We all know that ATVs are unpopular in Sedona. They are loud, have a negative impact on the environment, and in many ways are a lightning rod for the local’s frustrations with the tourism industry.
But ATVs are legal.
The federal government and the state of Arizona regulate ATVs and off-road vehicles, and renting them is a legitimate business subject to these regulations.
Many ATV centers are owned and operated by local citizens, and this ordinance would have a devastating effect on their businesses and harm the local economy.
In addition to harming local businesses, the ordinance will also inconvenience some residents, because it also restricts golf carts and other small service vehicles commonly used daily in Sedona.
There may be a way to reduce the impact of ATVs or to limit their access in certain areas, but it would be better for everyone concerned if local stakeholders could come to a consensus. Local business owners, city staff, and other community groups such as the Verde Valley Regional Economic Organization and the Oak Creek Watershed Council may be able to provide guidance and devise strategies to meet the needs of environmental stewardship and economic development together.
If the City passes the ordinance, it will likely be challenged in court, or the Arizona legislature may respond as they did with short-term rentals, securing citizen rights to engage in business. It will almost certainly be challenged one way or another, and odds are that forcing the ordinance through now, may lead to the opposite position being secured later. Negotiations and consensus would serve both short- and long-term interests best.
An example of a consensus solution might be to amend customer rental contracts with certain restrictions, such as Morgan Road, as a no-go area with agreed-upon fines imposed by the rental companies utilizing GPS tracking.
With everyone at the table working together, there are probably many solutions on offer that can address citizen concerns, protect local businesses, and safeguard the natural environment.
This City should pursue this path and not pass the ordinance.