By Rob Adams
Sedona AZ (December 6, 2018) – Imagine the Greater Sedona area as a giant body with the heart portion outlined by the Ranger Road, the “Y” and Schnebly Road roundabouts. Now imagine that the primary arteries of the heart are SR89a heading west, SR89a heading north and SR179 heading south. This area has been diagnosed with “congestive heart failure.” At many times during the day, at least one of these roundabouts is afflicted with major traffic congestion, either entering or leaving the Sedona area.
The “Sedona in Motion” Study has prescribed several “treatments” to mitigate the congestion. Arterial roadways, reduced marketing of Sedona at peak tourist times, transit expansion and additional parking opportunities are just a few of the “treatments” that have been prescribed. We all know that the “treatments” that have been recommended are not going to be a permanent cure. Traffic congestion is a complex problem, particularly in a small city that is surrounded by a spectacular national forest and attracts an increasing number of visitors every year. We are just delaying the imminent “heart attack.”
Exacerbating the congestion problem are the various “blood clots” that are accumulating in all three of the arteries. To the south in the Village of Oak Creek, the Element hotel project located on the factory outlet site will be adding approximately 125 rooms. Directly to the south, the Hilton Garden Inn project is proposing approximately 175 rooms. To the north, the area in Oak Creek Canyon is being overwhelmed by industrial scale tourism. To the west, the Marriott Courtyard has opened 121 rooms and an additional 90 rooms were recently approved for a Residence Inn project next door to the Courtyard.
Unquestionably, the most impactful threat is the ELS corporation’s proposal of a 650-space manufactured home park that would be located 2.5 miles west of Sedona on the former 177 acre El Rojo Grande Ranch site. This property is located adjacent to the Sedona Pines/Shadows neighborhood. The future traffic impacts to Sedona are mind-boggling. This development is projected to increase the population that will be utilizing Sedona services by approximately 13%!
So, what can we do? Obviously, there is no simple answer. We take one bite at a time, and the Sedona in Motion plan is a good start. We can also adamantly oppose some land trades/sales and developments that will have a detrimental impact on traffic congestion. In some cases, where zoning is already in place, developers have the right to build within the guidelines of the current zoning. In other cases, when a developer is seeking a zoning change that will increase density that will consequently make a significant contribution to traffic congestion, we can oppose the zone change.
Such is the case with the proposed El Rojo Grande development. Even though this property is not within the Sedona city limits, residents of Yavapai County have a voice in zoning and land development decisions. In my opinion, the proposed manufactured home development on the El Rojo Grande Ranch is a worst-case scenario for this pristine land, which is the western gateway to Sedona.
Shockingly, the County does not appear to take the traffic impacts of this development on the City of Sedona as part of the criteria that they consider when making a decision on granting a zone change! A county official has stated that the primary consideration for granting the zone change will be the support or opposition of the adjacent neighbors to the development.
This is your opportunity to get involved with preventing the “imminent heart attack” of traffic congestion. Go online and get educated about the issue at the ElRojoGrandeSedona.com website. Use the information in the letters on the website to contact the County Planning and Zoning Commissioners and Supervisors and voice your opposition. Letters should be sent to email@example.com. Show up at the meetings that are scheduled. Time is running out.
Sedona Mayor 2008 – 2014
Change is inevitable. We have a choice in the outcome of change.
Thank you for a common sense article. Perhaps Sedona needs to do a bit of “reverse advertising” and send out negative advertising with shots of congested traffic. 😉
I’ll be posting your excellent article in the Sedona Bulletin Board.
The Sedona Red Rock News published that the county “is not allowed to consider” impacts to:
I can almost understand if the rule said “not required to.”
Who is “allowed to consider” these live-giving or life-threatening factors? The State of Arizona? The Federal Government?
If “not allowed” is the law, the law must be changed.
Thank you Rob for your well written article. I believe that the strongest argument to stop this planned development is there is no realistic plan for sewage disposal. Since the City of Sedona will not allow this development to use its waste disposal facility how can the developer get ride of all the waste? Is it realistic? Focus some energy on communicating with the state agency that has to approve the development’s waste disposal plan. Does the developer even have a plan? I have not heard of any opposition attention put on this question.
There are a multitude of reasons that the proposed ELS development should be denied. I was only focusing on one in this article.
According to the Yavapai County Subdivision Manual (beginning on page 43), the County P & Z Commission and Supervisors have a wide range of criteria that they must consider for a zone change request.
Additionally, the Commissioners and Supervisors are directed to consider the guidelines of the Yavapai County Regional Plan. One of the points in this plan states “urban development should be limited to within or immediately adjacent to corporate limits or where infrastructure and services (public roads, sewer and water facilities and police and fire protection) are in place or may be reasonably accommodated and extended to serve such development.”
A wise person once advised me “choose your battles wisely.” This one is worth fighting for.
Only one of many issues.
West Sedona is about to experience what we from the “Y” to the VOC have been experiencing on Northbound 179 for the last 3 years. Wait until 260 is done, and the exit at I17 and 260 is posted as an exit to Sedona. Add the new hotels, 1000 air BNB and VBRO et al and observe.
We have one nice resort, and it’s not in Sedona. We’re not a resort town, never will be. That’s evident from the type of investments the lodging industry is making. We’re not Palm Springs. More motels and time shares will continue to drive the economy. Feed the beast.
We continue to promote the city, billboards in Chicago was the last one I saw. Even though Mayor Moriarty through a Freudian slip stated that we don’t need to promote Sedona as everyone knows we’re here! Correct madam mayor.
$30 million for SIM. Blockages that triple that spending are not going to fix. We have 2 roads. A hard concept for many to comprehend. Surrounded by NFS, wilderness areas with a creek running through it in two vallies. Add to that private land pretty much to the west that will continue to be developed all through the Verde Valley.
Yes, the project west of us that Rob talked about is not a smart fit for us. But let’s face it, it is just one attempt that will either fail or succeed, but the onslaught will continue in the Verde. It is inevitable.
How do you slow it down, stop it, or reverse it? Probably never reverse it. Bigger picture? It takes people with bigger visions and a public that is smart enough to not be swayed by partisan politics for non partisan issues. Unfortunately that’s not Sedona.
We need our own county, the Verde Valley County. We have the population and infrastructure in place. Yavapai and Coconino basically look at the Verde as a money source to fund their operations. Big challenge. Nothing going to change until that happens.
Traffic delay warning signs for.260.and 179, ADOT…thank you. Never been done in rural Arizona. Amazing our ex fire chief stated that in his meetings with ADOT that this was not a reality. Santa Claus left for Colorado.
I also want to say thanks to the new owner of the VOC grocery store. Terrific upgrade in products and quality. Gives everybody south of the Y a great opportunity for shopping so we don’t have to fight traffic through the Tlaquepaque nightmare on northbound 179 to go to Bashas or Safeway.
Maybe it us also time to look at some type of private bridge access for locals at Red Rock Crossing…again. Time to start thinking about locals and not so much about the lodging industry who basically funded the last elections.
As president Obama said to John McCain, elections have consequences. So grab your wallets, enjoy the red rocks through your windshields, and try to keep great relationships with your friends before they get fed up and sell their home to an air bnb.
I’m right there with you, Michael Schroeder, until the Red Rock crossing. NO, it’s NOT time to revisit that unless you just want to look at it to say, “yes, we revisiting it and it still can’t happen.” You are asking rural Sedona residents in Yavapai county to give up their quiet existence so that a highway can be built across the creek. #1 reason against it = $$$$$. It will take billions of county dollars to widen Upper Red Rock Loop road to make it safe enough for the traffic you are talking about. This means making a new road right through forest land. Then the road terminates at the high school where drivers literally got their driver’s licenses yesterday. I drop my kid off at RRHS just about every morning and I can’t tell you how many times I have seen fender-benders and near-accidents. There is no where to put the bridge, unless the county takes private property by imminent domain. This means high real estate prices and it also likely means lawsuits — if not from property owners but also from the Sierra Club, the Red Rock Loop water association, and others. This will delay construction and be costly. Then there’s environmental impact reports and the like. Let’s not forget that the county pulled a permit to build the bridge 20 years ago and gave it up due to neighborhood opposition and costs. There already are a couple of bridges across from West Sedona to VOC. All you have to do is purchase a home within the development and you too can have access. Stop with the Red Rock crossing — it’s a pipe dream — and if we are lucky, it will never happen. It took nature millions of years to create such beauty. Let’s not destroy it with construction.
Jennifer Wesselhoff wrote in her so-called “Well-managed city merits public thanks” article of December 12th, SRRN: “And, remember, because of tourism, the City of Sedona doesn’t levy a property tax at all.” WTF? A City property tax must go before the voters for approval. Good luck with that.
According to Mayor Sandy Moriarty: “Tourists aren’t going’ to go away whether the Chamber advertises or not, frankly. They’re not goin’ away!. There’s a million ways people hear about Sedona. They’ve been hearing about it for years…everybody knows about it!” Ref: “Sedona Mayor on Tourism Ad Dollars Unnecessary,” SEDONA TIMES, August 2nd.
(“Meet the Candidates for Mayor” forum, Sedona Public Library, July 18th.)