Sedona is and must continue to be a partnership between the city residents, forest service, Chamber of Commerce, Lodging Council and the timeshare industry. But it is the City that must be the senior partner to legislate and incentivize our partners to mitigate our travel and parking problems. The city must take control of the bed tax revenues that now automatically flow to the Chamber of Commerce.
Tourist industry employers are experiencing a critical short fall in workers with the lodging industry experiencing nearly 300 vacant positions. What limited “affordable housing” there was for workers in Sedona has been converted by owners into short term rentals resulting in approximately 1,000 new short-time rentals in Sedona over the past 18 months. In contrast, of the 2,525 hotel/timeshare rooms in Sedona, only 180 have been built over the past 10 years.
By redirecting some of the bed tax dollars to enhance the Lynx transportation system we can better serve our employers and workers. This could be accomplished by using bed tax dollars to subsidize increasing morning and evening Lynx bus service to accommodate worker hours. We could get employers to adjust starting and ending work time to better facilitate Lynx travel, and by incentivizing employers to subsidize their employee’s bus fares to encourage them to leave their cars at home.
We will never be able to pave our way out of our parking dilemma. To help alleviate our parking problems, bed taxes could be temporarily channeled as seed money to incentivize the lodging and timeshare industry to cooperatively organize and manage a convenient dispatch “on call shuttle service”. This service would make it convenient for their overnight guests to get to and between overcrowded trailheads and shopping areas where parking is not easily available. This service would encourage lodging guests to leave their cars parked in the existing 2,852 hotel and timeshare parking spaces.
To encourage visitors to spend the night before and after they take advantage of everything Sedona has to offer, we must take control of our streets. The city should place no parking signage along city streets near trail-heads, and of course enforce the no parking restrictions. This strategy must be coordinated with the counties to solve the parking problem along Dry Creek and Boynton Pass Roads. Visitors would soon realize that to be able to actually experience Sedona, they need to spend the night to avail themselves of the lodging industry's shuttle services to trail-heads and shopping areas. This strategy has been successful along Back O'Beyond Rd. near the Cathedral Rock trail-head.
There needs to be city oversight to ensure that marketing is targeted at people who can spend multiple days and nights in Sedona. We want visitors who can afford to support our Art Gallery businesses, restaurants, tour industry and retail shops. Marketing in Phoenix, including sending thousands of the Chamber’s Experience Sedona magazine to Scottsdale, needs to be reduced or eliminated. The Chamber admits that 40% of our traffic in Sedona are day trippers who clog our roads and take up our limited parking while providing little economic benefit to Sedona. The city’s 2018 traffic study suggests that it is closer to 65% day-trip tourists.