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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.