By Tommy Acosta
Sedona, AZ — Let’s face it. Pull no punches. Trying to retrofit Sedona to ease the traffic conundrum is like trying to stop a mortally wounded elephant from bleeding out, with a band-aid.
You can build a pedestrian bridge in Tlaquepaque, pave Schnebly Road, open up Red Rock Crossing, use trolleys to transport visitors to hiking trails, defund the Chamber of Commerce, try all the cosmetic fixes one can imagine but in the final analysis, there is absolutely nothing the city can do to stop the influx of visitors invading Sedona.
Short of building a “border wall” and turning back all the traffic coming into Sedona, there are few options.
The cat is out of the bag. The whole world now knows that Sedona is a safe and beautiful destination to visit and they will come in droves to escape the lockdowns and restrictions from whatever states they emanate.
The congestion we are experiencing now is just the beginning of a tourist-filled summer and we might as well buckle up and get used to it, because there is no escape from this actuality.
The first step to recovery, meaning tuning our minds to the reality of the onslaught and just learning to deal with it, is to realize that just because we live here, we locals do not own Sedona.
That’s right. We don’t own Sedona. So, get over it.
There is little doubt Sedona is the healing capital of the world and maybe even the universe. The beauty of Sedona and its healing energy belong to the planet earth, not us. We are only the stewards and that’s that.
We need to understand the reality of our situation. We have no right to stop the world from coming here. So, our best bet is to simply accept it and find a way to mitigate the damage.
The City needs to create a live in-real-time Website, reporting on current traffic conditions in the city so we could plan what are the best times to go out and do our errands, visit our doctors, go to our favorite restaurants or spend time in nature.
Right now, we can get that info from Googlemaps.com by simply entering our location, our destination, and Google Maps will tell us how bad the traffic is in Sedona.
Click on Get Directions. Hit the “Details” button. The route will be highlighted on your map and it will give you the amount of time it will take, with a color-coded live traffic update as well.
Check out this screenshot of the Google map below to see how simple it is.
You can get the same info from ADOT by going to www.az511.gov. Set your starting point and destination point, hit the little car icon button and you get the estimated time and a present-tense report on traffic conditions.
Here below is a screen shot of the ADOT resource. Note how simple it is.
At least this gives us a fighting chance.
If you have no choice and must spend time in traffic, one might want to sharpen up their Zen skills and practice the art of patience. Breathe. Enjoy the red rock views and be grateful for the beauty you live in. Count the cars with out-of-state license plates, make eye contact with other drivers and smile.
There is so much to see we don’t notice when zooming from one place to another. Take the waiting time in stride. Check out all those wonderful shpos along 89A you never saw before.
Be like a good doctor and have a lot of “patients.”
Our tourists are the lifeblood that keeps our city going. Accept them. Be grateful for them and you will be that much more better off and less stressed.
All good points, and reality. One thing that might mitigate the damage in over advertising that our illustrious council has done over the last decade is to control parking. Which we are doing.
No more parking all over Back O Beyond road. City fixed that. And now a volunteer cop controls traffic entry. So people parked at the Methodist Church. Filled the lot. City stopped that. So they parked up in the neighborhoods. City stopped that. Oh…and the trash complaints? Rolling right in, residents doing clean up in their neighborhoods.
In sales and marketing, 1 negative can only be overcome with 100 positives. Right now, we are creating 100s if not thousands of negatives. A good thing, a little balance. Hope that word of mouth travels. The council in their zeal to make Sedona the tourist capital of the world have lost all focus on who elected them.
Tourism is important to the local economy. How much revenue does the city need, and if the tourist level drops, and revenue drops, then…wait for it…the city’s overhead goes down. And watching this council spend 100s of thousands of pet projects will come to an end. MAYBE.
So the lack of parking, refusal to do things differently will be interesting to watch. Wesselhoff saw the writing on the wall, Clifton saw the writing on the wall, Pickels left although someone said he was back temporarily as the council forgot about having back up positions as people left. And although our new city manager may be qualified, not putting a search out for the best qualified, and opening the city manager position up through the application process was inexcusable and lazy.
But…you get what you vote for. When Sedona gets tired of the “good ole boys club” you might see a different direction. Until then, like Tommy said, use the apps and enjoy the view out of your car window. And hats off the the folks in the Village, for those of us that live from the Chapel south we have good choices in shopping, restaurants and other services.
The only way to limit traffic is to limit automobiles. Examples: Zion National Park, Nantucket. Sedona can welcome visitors(and their money). People take up a whole lot less space than cars.
Thanks for the article and the attitude, Tommy.
While traffic mess continues, Time is now to defund the Chamber.It is quite silly to keep inviting the masses to visit via Chamber websites and adverts.Follow the lead and stop our ineffective Council asap.
They are so out of touch with reality
Let the Hotels pay for their own adverts as it was meant to be.
Good op-ed, Tommy. If the Chamber stopped all ads tomorrow, we’d still be jammed with tourists. Like other great destinations, Sedona has been discovered by the world. Every nice place on the planet is crowded with visitors. People tend to forget that on the worst days in Sedona for traffic, it’s better than any day commuting into just about any American city.
It would be good for us all to limit ATVs to those with electric motors – or at least good mufflers. We knew Sedona was a tourist town when we first came here 25 years ago, but the preponderance of ATVs has been an unpleasant surprise.
We also appreciate what the City is doing to control the crowds down Back O’Beyond and Soldier’s Pass. We could use more volume controls in other neighborhoods that feature trailheads. Last but not least would be a well-designed shuttle service, like the Sedona Loop proposed decades ago. It would get some tourists out of their cars and benefit us residents, too.
Meanwhile, I do appreciate Zen and the Art of Waiting in Traffic.
What concerns me more than the traffic is the damage to the forest. The worst culprits are the monster versions of the ATV’s. From my observation, many of the operators of these vehicles are younger men that have little regard for other forest users, much less anything that is in their path.
Bottom line is, the traffic and parking is only a symptom of a larger problem. The area that we love is being destroyed by overuse.
I agree with Jennifer. We need to advocate for limited or permitted access to the forest. The National Parks can do this, but it is a whole different ball game for the National Forest. It opens up a Pandora’s Box of issues. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
I have been working with the City, the Forest Service and Federal Representatives to consider doing capacity studies to determine if specific areas are being overused. This is a long, frustrating process but we are making some progress.
If anyone would like to participate, I would welcome your help.
Hi Rob…I’m chairing a group called Traffic Matters representing the property owners in the Canyon. We’ve been working on getting a capacity study for oak Creek Canyon. We’re very concerned with the damage to the forest, the recreation vehicles, etc. Would like to talk to you. Can you email me your phone number? Marcie