can help shape the
future of red rock country;
Updating the Sedona Community Plan
Judith M. Keane
when we just adopted a major revision of the original 1991
plan in 1998? Sedona is noted for its plans and regulations
that induce high quality growth. Whats wrong with what
we have? What have we missed?
Sedona Community Plan is being updated because the Arizona
Legislature in 1998 and 2000 adopted requirements that all
cities with a population above 2,500 must develop a community
plan that meets certain new criteria, and it also gave cities
additional opportunities to manage growth. The statute is
known as "Growing Smarter," and it requires that
the proposed new plan be adopted or rejected by the voters
of the city through a referendum in 2002.
So yes, we did
just complete a comprehensive process of public participation
and adopted an updated plan in 1998. And its recognized
throughout the state as outstanding, one that requires high
standards for development and building, and compatibility
with the natural beauty of our community. The Community Plan
is a "road map" for achieving community objectives.
The data just released
from the 2000 census confirms, with facts, what we already
sensed about the 10-year growth in the Verde Valley: its
been big, a combined total of over 50%. The state as a whole
grew 40%. Our neighboring communities racked up big numbers:
Village of Oak Creek, 73%, Cornville, 60%, Cottonwood, 55%,
Camp Verde, 51%. Jerome lost 18%.
population growth of 32% - the lowest not counting Jerome
- looks good by comparison. It translates into a growth rate
of 2.8% per year. But we see the effects of that growth, and
we know intuitively there is no end to how often we must keep
working to ensure that our plan and the regulations that implement
it are clear and strong and far-sighted.
That kind of eternal
vigilance in recent years has brought about such new plan
that require new development to pay its fair share of the
cost of public facilities.
of the locations of timeshares, hotels and bed and breakfasts.
buffer or "transitional" zones to protect residential
areas from unwelcome effects of commercial development and
to provide community and neighborhood benefits.
to regulate residential densities and commercial acreage.
concentration on development of a regional plan.
of a comprehensive lighting ordinance.
study for shuttle transit.
interior parallel routes to draw traffic from 89A.
The new statutes
require broad public participation, which has always been
a part of Sedonas planning process. In 1988, for instance,
Sedona having just been incorporated as a city, had to develop
a comprehensive plan starting from "ground zero."
Hundreds of citizens were involved in creating the first Community
Plan. In fact, the process was so creative and involved that
Sedona received an award from the Arizona Planning Association
in 1990 for the best public participation in the State of
Arizona. The City Council adopted the first plan in November,
A major update
of the Community Plan was adopted by the City Council in June,
l998. This was preceded by an extensive review, including
the work of a City Council-appointed Growth Committee. Many
citizens had expressed deeply felt concerns about growth issues.
The Growth Committee analyzed the facts, looked for creative
solutions and made recommendations to the Planning and Zoning
Commission and the City Council. The Committees recommendations
became the most critical component in the last update of the
intriguing to look at the Sedona "snapshot" and
see how the community has evolved in the last five years.
In one major respect,
the new state law is timely for Sedona: the completion of
the wastewater treatment plant expansion has opened many areas
for development, making it vitally important to ensure that
all the citys policies can effectively induce development
of the highest quality.
Other issues that
may be addressed in the update of the Community Plan include:
greater focus on the needs of local residents in "Transitional"
areas; need for moderate-income housing; evaluation of the
issues relating to potential annexation of surrounding private
lands to provide development review and infrastructure consistent
with city standards; and the development of an uptown "creek
A number of opportunities
will be provided for citizen input. Because Sedona has a number
of citizens moving to the community each year, this is a wonderful
opportunity to learn more about the planning process and provide
your comments to this update.
It is especially
important since you will be voting on this update of the Community
Plan in May, 2002.
fers space to local
political organizations and affilated groups to express their
view on current local issues. Sherman is a co-founder of the
AZ NoFee Coalition, which has been a leader in the fight against
greater Sedona area, folks from a wide range of backgrounds
and spanning the political spectrum are gathering and speaking
together. They are earnestly debating the future of our shared
federally managed public lands in new and sometimes bewildering
dialogue has many voices, yet they are united on one thing:
their opposition to the Red Rock Pass and other Forest Service
Recreation Fee Demonstration Programs. Increasingly, citizens
are voluntarily spending hours both researching this issue
and sharing their information with friends and strangers.
These conversations are taking place in homes, coffee shops,
bars and places of business; in cities, towns; and on trails,
online and on the phone.
This crowd is part
of a larger community, stretching across the entire state
of Arizona, from coast to coast. There are now more than 200
organizations and political bodies across the nation that
are united in opposition to such Recreation Fee Demonstration
The AZ NoFee Coalition
is one of ten here in Arizona. The entire state legislatures
of both California and New Hampshire have signed resolutions
against Fee Demo. Representative Bob Stump, who represents
Sedona and other parts of Arizona, is a co-sponsor of legislation
to terminate such Forest Service programs.
This dialogue has
recently taken on a new sense of urgency. This is due partly
to the fact that we all are about to pay our yearly taxes
- sending money to the government so that they will be able
to handle the concerns and encourage the aspirations of the
country (public landscapes clearly being a concern - and love
- for many of us). Likewise, pressure is building due to continuing
reports from the Government Accounting Office and the non-partisan
Congressional Research Service detailing case after case of
Forest Service mismanagement of funds and public resources.
Whatever the exact
cause, many people are engaging in new levels of activism
across the nation. Retirees are engaging in full-time educational
campaigns; folks are traveling to Washington, D.C., to speak
with their representatives; seventh graders are collecting
signatures opposing the program; and many "ordinary,"
law-abiding citizens are now taking their grievances to the
One such person
is Heather Songster.
Monday, March 26th,
8:30 a.m., Songsters arraignment was scheduled to commence
- for allegedly failing to purchase a Red Rock Pass in Sedona.
She had decided to contest the ticket and had contacted the
AZ NoFee Coalition. Members of the Coalition provided information
and attended the proceedings in support of the defendant.
Those proceedings were relatively short-lived.
As part of their
nationwide Recreation Fee Demonstration Program, the Forest
Service has made it clear that they view anyone who has the
audacity to enjoy their public lands, which we all pay to
maintain every April 15th, as a criminal. And they treat them
as such. This case was no exception.
was well aware of both her rights and the simple fact that
the burden of proving her guilt was solely the responsibility
of the Forest Service. She refused to incriminate herself
in any way and let the Forest Service make the best case against
her they could. And their case was woefully inadequate.
became clear that the Forest Service prosecution had no evidence
who, if anyone, had "failed to purchase a fee established
for admission or entrance to, or use of, a site, facility,
equipment or service furnished by the United States"
as stated on the ticket (Regulation 36 Code of Federal Regulations
261.15). The case was quickly dismissed.
Songster was never
asked if she was indeed on the trail in question. Had such
a question been asked, her response simply could have been
that the prosecution had not proved that point. If pressed,
the 5th Amendment guarantees one the right to not incriminate
oneself. Simply "taking the 5th" will allow one
to not answer any questions deemed incriminating.
Sedona Ranger District, there are dozens of signs that say,
"Red Rock Pass required for parking on the national forest"
and "Parked vehicles must display a Red Rock Pass."
These signs are official Forest Service signs, although there
is no legal code cited beneath these statements. Ken Anderson,
the District Ranger in Sedona, readily admits that there is
"no law exactly" to support either of the above
statements. Yet, despite the fact that the signs are inaccurate,
because they are "informational
its okay to post them.
In reality, these
signs mislead the public, many of whom are not from the area,
into believing that they must purchase a pass. Of the many
locals and visitors the AZ NoFee Coalition has spoken with,
the overwhelming majority who purchased passes did so out
of fear of getting a ticket.
And although Mr.
Anderson states that these signs are not "relative to
enforcement," vehicles at trailheads and along state
roads have been receiving tickets for allegedly failing to
purchase a Red Rock Pass based solely on the fact that the
vehicle was there.
The entire state
of New Hampshire refuses to prosecute any more Fee Demo cases
because the presence of ones vehicle at a trailhead,
or along the side of the road, holding that it the vehicle
is not sufficient evidence of either a defendant being anywhere
near the "site," or of them recreating. In Tucson,
a case against four individuals for such an alleged violation
was dismissed this past fall. Here in northern Arizona, Songsters
case was dismissed.
Forest Service is aware of the simple fact that they do not
have the legal authority to demand that a pass be purchased
simply for parking ones vehicle on the National Forest.
Yet they continue to deceive the public and pretend that this
is the case, attempting to prosecute both those who know better
and those who do not.
The fact that
the Forest Service required Songster to waste both her time
and taxpayer money in order to defend herself from a charge
that the Forest Service knew would not hold up under scrutiny
- unless they were successful in intimidating her into admitting
that she was there and recreating without having purchased
a pass - is outrageous.
There is no law
stating that a pass must be displayed. They had no evidence
whatsoever of who, if anyone, was on the trails and recreating
that day. None. They knew this. Yet they still choose to prosecute.
dismissal of my ticket today represents a clear step towards
judicial protest of the Red Rock Pass, many people in our
community feel intimidated or confused regarding the legal
process, and therefore comply with the Fee Demo Program. I
strongly encourage these people to make their voice heard,
educate themselves about the program, and seek help from the
AZ NoFee Coalition," Songster said after her case was
It is clear that
the Forest Service is using compliance to gauge public acceptance
of their Fee Demo programs. Even if such compliance is based
on strong-arm tactics and deceiving the public, the Forest
Service still quotes compliance figures.
As the move to
expand Fee Demo mouses through Congress on padded feet, now
is the time to declare our united outrage loud and strong.
We must support both ourselves and those elected leaders who
value our public lands as we do. The time to actively fight
to preserve our birthright, one of the last remaining vestiges
of the public good and the American psyche, is now. And the
tactics are many.
There are a growing
number of people interested in returning their Red Rock Pass
to the Sedona Ranger District to voice their opposition to
this program. Many people are joining the AZ NoFee Coalition
to support in education and outreach efforts.
People are making
friends with old neighbors, as they speak with those they
meet on trail and in town about the program. We encourage
folks to write letters to the editors across the nation, again
and again if need be.
Write your friends
and family too, and let them know what could soon be in their
backyard, or waiting here for them should they happen to visit.
Furthermore, we must constantly remind our representatives
that we are watching them, and that we urge them to make the
right choice and dedicate appropriate public funding for responsible
public land recreation programs.
There is an Online
petition against Fee Demo (www.petitiononline.com/feedemo/petition.html).
Please take a moment to sign it and pass on the address. And
if one does get a ticket, please consider contacting us and
taking it to court. The state of Idaho refuses to hear more
Fee Demo cases because there were too many and they were a
waste of taxpayer time and money. We can do the same in Arizona.
both continue the Recreation Fee "Demonstration"
and terminate the Forest Services participation in such
programs is making its way through Washington D.C.. Now is
the time to tighten ones belt and get ready for a pitched
If we are to preserve
our shared natural heritage, if we are to protect that tiny
bit of wilder country, both in terms of geography and our
American heritage, we must do so now. Contact the AZ NoFee
Coalition at (520) 773-1064 in Flagstaff, (520) 204-2930 in
Sedona, or email@example.com for more information about what
you, your friends and your relatives can all do to help raise
awareness about this critical struggle.