By John Roberts, Sedona Resident
(July 13, 2018)
City staff and council are fully backing this SIM program aimed to relieve the congestion in our roadways. The overall project is to reconstruct some of the roadway system which serves us. Both the Chamber of Commerce and the Red Rock News favor it. Some residents back it too . But a strong number in town strongly oppose this $30 million 10 year program. That’s why I became interested in learning more.
Right now what is missing in the city’s program are the plans and specifications from engineering firms. This is what contractors must use to prepare their bids for the costs of doing the work and then to execute work contracts if awarded the job. One engineer has been hired so far and is working on the preliminary job of fact finding and determining how to begin with design work. Their assignment is for the uptown problems. This always takes time and can last for months and even years. That means we won’t know the engineer’s decision about roadway changes they’ll recommend to the city ’till design is finished and plans and specs are available for us to review. But that hasn’t deterred city staff and residents from voicing opinions about roadway changes. That is where I became interested in looking into some of these ideas being floated. So, I visited two sites which have been listed as candidates for SIM roadway work. Here is what I found.
One site is uptown 89A with a remedy plan touted by city hall for attention and action. A part of their plan is to add a new ( 3rd ) southbound lane to help handle canyon sourced traffic flow into uptown Sedona headed for the ” Y ” roundabout. On that side of 89A there is sidewalk, stores, parking, space to safely exit parking slots, backwards, for entry into southbound traffic and two lanes of southerly headed traffic. However, I could find no spare space anywhere there to build the 3rd ( relief ) lane for traffic. I am amazed at this glaring oversight by the city and even more so because council has authorized spending $3.4 million for this uptown part out of the total estimated SIM cost of $30. What on earth was the council thinking ? Spend tax revenues for a road to be built on fictitious land ? Or maybe just as crazy they intend as a fall back plan to cancel out parking space to use for this new lane. Can you just imagine the merchants reaction, that of their lawyers and all of us if this were to develop. Whatever, reality is that the council and staff have a huge gaping hole in their planning. Not very swift !
The other SIM proposed site I visited was the ” Northview ” parallel roadway intended to relieve the main road 89A of some of it’s traffic load. The plan would divert vehicle traffic from 89A onto this parallel roadway in this subdivision’s roadway system. Right now it is a quiet and safe place for families to enjoy, just like when they found it when they bought their homes there. To criticize any of them for complaining about the new traffic loadings as NIMBY is thoughtless because this traffic invasion is nothing but ” in your eye ” misbehavior by the city SIM planners. Why should these people suffer the disruption just to benefit the tourism business owners with more profits. The noise, added pollution and increased accident danger to children and elderly hardly makes it a fair trade off.
If this will be typical of the city staff and city council planning then Sedona in Motion is a dead duck. The only possible hope, at this moment, is for competent engineering to maybe get things straightened out. Since that’s a monumental task with very long odds for success I would much rather we voters first clean out city council membership ( but not councilman John Currinan ). We must stop the goofball council thinking now present. The August ballot includes voting for 5 city council seats and a mayor. That would be a really good restart with such city hall changes. Then hopefully have a chance that Sedona In Motion can become a success.
This is an excellent analysis of the so called “fixes” to our traffic problems. Although the City Manager has said that “no one of them is a silver bullet” for fixing our traffic problems, I would suggest that even if we could implement ALL of them, we would still have a problem that is only going to get worse. The Council spent $250,000 on a traffic study, but forgot to ask the consultants the CAUSE of our traffic problem. So they got a bunch of band aids for the “solution.” The cause is that there are too many cars for our road infrastructure. The solutions in “Sedona in Motion” will not cause our infrastructure to be handle the ever increasing volume of cars. The traffic study did state that 80% of the cars were tourists. The current folks on City Council said that they “must do something” so they voted to start implementing some of these fixes. I guess some action is better than the right action.
What is the right action? We need to stop giving $2.5 million to the Chamber of Commerce so they can spend it attracting more and more tourists and their cars. The current City Council will not stop this spending. The current City Council will not even acknowledge that there is an upper LIMIT to the number of tourists and their cars our small town can handle. They see NO upper limit!
We need to vote them out of office. We need to cut their funding so they can’t continue to give the Chamber $millions. We need to vote NO on Home rule. Those in favor of Home rule are using scare tactics stating dire consequences if Home rule is voted down by the residents. They talk of cuts to all sorts of City funding (library etc), but the never mention that $2.5M to the Chamber might be cut. Crazy right?
Does anybody really believe the traffic is going to go down, the chamber has an advertised in the Phoenix market in two years, we need to play catch-up this city has been under spending for years. If you take the 2008 expenditures and grow that number by just 3% for inflation last year the city should have spent $47 million. Sedona in motion is what everybody’s been asking for and now a few tea party types who hate government hate growth and when I slammed the door on visitors are complaining factory reset on to state highways fact we are 8 miles from the busiest state park fact we are 100 miles from the Grand Canyon fact if we don’t fix our roads it’s just going to get worse
Once again, a great analyses by a very qualified John Roberts.
Lets follow his lead and vote for the Residents of Sedona, not the day tripping tourists.
So Steve Segner thinks that we are stuck with the traffic we are now experiencing. As a hotel owner and the head of the Lodging Council, I’m sure he is pleased. But if the tourists are coming “anyway” whether we advertise further or not, why do we continue to send $2+ million to the Chamber for “destination marketing”?
One thing Mr. Segner repeatedly misses is that ‘growth’ (in tourism and traffic) is not the same as progress for the residents. Two different things. As a hotel owner he appears quite disconnected from what the residents want. Residents want amenities that directly benefit them, things like parks, arts and culture programs, beautification spending, grants to community groups (such as the humane society, library) that don’t leave them begging. He appears to focus only on the benefits for the hotel and tourist industry.
Paul, we have added only have 189 hotels in 10 years we are not trying to load hotels all the things you talked about loosing will go away if we loose home rule….. remember you’re the one that moved to a city built over to state highways 100 miles from the Grand Canyon in next to a river
You can’t have unlimited growth in a limited area. Segner and the Chamber would have Sedona totally paved and make it a 3RD rate Disneyland.
Some of you have your ballots. Please vote for me, Sam Tardio and Noelle Julian.
Please vote No on Home Rule.
We can take our town back from special interests.
i was at the community pulse meeting the traffic person said there would not be enough people using red rock crossing end of story i tried to find him after but could not can someone find out why he said this was there a study ???? a connection is needed whoever would made that statement is maybe being told that to stop the sedona people from having this connection all the money is going to uptown thankyou
Kali Baldwin, please feel free to contact us at the city for more information about the Red Rock Crossing. The presenter at the Pulse event was Public Works Director Andy Dickey and he would be happy to speak with you. Get his contact phone and email from our web page at http://www.sedonaaz.gov/your-government/departments/public-works/contact-us
Sedona tea party hits New low False news in a small community
Post Date: 07/18/2018 1:05 p.m.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 18, 2018
SEDONA, Ariz. – What is the difference between civic dialogue and disinformation?
That’s the question the city manager of Sedona is asking in the midst of a small-community debate that mirrors a national discussion about fake news and alternative facts, and a federal investigation into international interference in American democracy.
“While civic discourse is instrumental to ensuring that government is responsive to its citizens, disinformation is disheartening,” says City Manager Justin Clifton. “In a rural community of 10,000 people, citizens are being targeted with a political stunt that relies on false news to try to influence an election.”
Disinformation, often called “fake news,” is everywhere but – thus far – seems to have been confined largely to national politics or attempts to target national brands such as Pepsi and Starbucks. Fake news, and its cousin false news, is information that is deliberately fabricated, or news that begins with a kernel of truth that is twisted, with a goal to influence public opinion about a targeted person or issue.
In the case of Sedona, the target is an Aug. 28 election that includes city council candidates and a home rule proposal that has sparked debate on the city’s contract with the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, the area’s tourism management organization, for visitor services and marketing.
The latest volley is a complaint to the state attorney general’s office – two weeks before early voting begins – challenging a city contract with the chamber entered into four years ago, and now involving the state legislature.
On July 17 the Office of the Arizona Attorney General delivered a Notice of Submission of Legislator Request for Investigation Pursuant to A.R.S. 41-194.01, more commonly referred to as a “1487 complaint.” The latter designation references Arizona Senate Bill 1487, which created the right for individual state legislators to demand that the Attorney General investigate alleged violations of state law by local jurisdictions.
In the July 17 complaint, Senator Judy Burges (R-Dist 22), whose legislative district includes the cities of Glendale, Peoria and Surprise, alleges: (1) that the City of Sedona’s bed tax ordinance violates the Arizona Constitution’s gift clause, AZ Const. Art. 9 sec. 7, because 55% of the revenues are distributed to the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau (Chamber); (2) that the City’s Tourism Promotion & Visitor Services Agreement with the Sedona Chamber violates the gift clause due to a lack of adequate consideration given to the City; and (3) that the acquisition of the property located at 401 Jordan Rd. was gratuitous to the Chamber, also in violation of the gift clause.
Sedona City Attorney Robert Pickels says while tourism is a hot-button issue in Sedona, “I find the timing of this complaint in relation to the impending election very curious and suspect. Having said that, we at the city respect the process that has been imposed upon us by SB 1487 and we will fully cooperate with the Attorney General’s Office.”
Under SB 1487, the investigation can be triggered solely on the basis of a request by a single state lawmaker. By law, the attorney general’s investigation must be completed and a report issued no later than August 12. The investigation will include consideration of a formal written response from the city.
Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty, who is running for reelection on Aug. 28, says she is equally suspicious of the timing of the complaint.
“The city has had a contract with the Sedona Chamber of Commerce for visitor management since the early 1990s and entered into this contract – in a public and fully transparent manner – in 2014, and there has been not a peep since then,” she says. “And, suddenly, this. False news has finally slithered into small town America, into our beautiful town.”
Chamber and tourism opponents have also targeted the city with public records requests: In the 47 days between June 1 to July 17, the city has received 49 public records requests compared to four that were received during a similar period (June 23-July 17) in the 2016 election cycle.
Assistant City Manager Karen Osburn says disinformation isn’t entirely new to Sedona, but the people who use it appear to have been emboldened, perhaps because of the tactic’s success in the national election.
“The same group that used these tactics in a local bond election last year has progressed from cherry bombs to grenades,” she says. “These unprincipled tactics have done real damage to our small town and are damaging to democracy. Anyone who thinks it can’t happen to their town is wrong, if we don’t stand up for the truth.”
The city of Sedona will conduct its 2018 primary election Tuesday, Aug. 28 and the general election, if necessary, Tuesday, Nov. 6.
Sandy’s “there has not been a peep” about the [no-bid, seven-year] contract with the Chamber of Commerce since 2014 is not the case. I sent Mayor Sandy and selected City Councilors emails about the Chamber of Commerce’s 401 Jordan Road acquisition as well as other troubling Chamber destination marketing matters.
On August 7, 2017, Judicial Watch sent the City Manager a public records request by certified mail with regard to the 401 Jordan Rd acquisition. And, the Goldwater Institute and Law in the Public Interest in Phoenix have been sent complaints about the City’s contract with the regional Chamber of Commerce during the last few years or so.
“The NCS Sedona, AZ Livability Report 2017” comparisons found five out of nine City GOVERNANCE ratings lagged behind the national average, as follows:
Overall direction, 31%
Confidence in City government, 35%
Acting in the best interest of Sedona, 34%
Being honest, 40%
Treating all residents fairly, 42%
Six possible industries got reported on. The Livability Report findings: Survey participants were less supportive in increasing tourism or warehouse and distribution businesses. About 4 in 10 respondents supported growth in these areas.