Sedona AZ (May 14, 2019) – Every year the city council meets to set city priorities for the coming year. Those priorities are guided by the Community Plan goals, current circumstances in our community, and the capacity of staff to undertake new priorities while they complete existing priorities from prior years.
The priorities set by council are reflected in the budget council establishes every year. Council’s job is to make sure the priorities are supported with the funding and staff required to achieve those priorities. Without sufficient funding or staff resources, priorities end up being just words on a page.
The highest priorities set by council for next year are traffic and affordable workforce housing, both of which have been the focus of intense community concern. Neither of those is a new issue. What might be different is that the council has committed real resources to those priorities and has consistently chosen to make the hard decisions required to move ahead to address those issues.
It is a simply a reality that doing what’s necessary to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion requires substantial investment in infrastructure and alternate modes of transportation. There is no easy fix. Creating an environment in which constructing multi-family rental housing available to our workforce is financially feasible requires changes to existing development regulations and practices.
Inevitably, some people will vehemently oppose whatever projects or strategies are proposed, arguing they are too expensive, won’t work, will harm their interests, will destroy Sedona. This kind of controversy is not new in Sedona, and in some situations it can be helpful. A thoughtful and robust public engagement process can ensure that a proposal is thoroughly examined before a decision is made whether or not to move forward.
Given that every proposal will generate some opposition, council can either proceed responsibly with plans to improve the community as a whole or choose not to act because some people oppose the plan. In making a decision, council has to weigh the public benefits of the proposed improvements against the negative impacts cited by those who oppose it.
Whether we like it or not, making decisions that affect the entire community is challenging. I’ve had people thank me for moving ahead with the city-wide pedestrian/bike pathways so they can ride their bikes to the store and trailheads without facing the dangers of 89A, and I’ve had people complain that they don’t want those pathways because they don’t want strangers near their homes. Two residents, two opinions. If we want to address the issues that we face as a community, we have to make those decisions. Or we can choose to do nothing and kick the can down the road and see what happens.
The above opinions are mine alone and do not necessarily represent the views of the Sedona City council.