Sedona is out of balance between those of us who make Sedona our home and businesses who rely on tourist trade. Tourism benefits residents with their city sales tax and bed tax revenues to fund the city, but at what cost? On September 17, 2013, the city council voted to channel 50% of the bed tax to the Chamber of Commerce for destination marketing. Believing that the price was too high and understanding that Sedona has a finite capacity limit for traffic and parking, I voted against it.
It is important to note that at an October 2013 City Council meeting during which I was out of town, my opponent in this election, Jessica Williamson, made a motion to change the 50% previously approved to 55%. The motion passed 4-2. My attendance would not have changed the outcome.
In 2013, the Chamber received approximately $750,000 for destination marketing and support of the Chamber Visitor Center. In four years that figure has grown to $2.5M. I believe our quality of life is under siege by day trip tourists brought to Sedona through the Chamber’s destination marketing program. Day trip tourists unduly burden our infrastructure without producing much economic benefit. This is now compounded by the Arizona legislature’s decision to force Arizona towns and cities to allow short term rentals. As a result, travel times along SR 179 and SR 89A have often ballooned to four or five times the normal travel time into Uptown and West Sedona. Parking in the 580 parking spaces at the 17 trailheads in and around Sedona has become nearly impossible after 9 or 10 AM, even on weekdays.