Sedona, Arizona – The Sedona City Council has proposed a city ordinance that will prohibit the use of motor vehicles and decimate small business within city limits. Minute AB 2950 at the City Council’s May 23, 2023 meeting introduced discussion regarding an amendment to title 10 of the city code that adds chapter 10.30 Improper Motor Vehicle Equipment.
The proposed City Code will prohibit the use of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment that is not approved for highway use by the manufacturer. Under this new ordinance, it would be a crime to operate any vehicle with tires not approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The proposed rule includes prohibitions on vehicles equipped with aftermarket parts that render a vehicle in violation of federal motor vehicle safety standards, therefore prohibiting their use on Sedona roads. This could include common aftermarket suspension, steering, bumpers, and custom fabricated parts that are not required to meet DOT or NHTSA standards.
According to the ordinance, violators will be subject to a $500 fine that will include criminal misdemeanor charges for repeat offenders. The ordinance declares that both owners and operators will be legally responsible for violating the ordinance and allows the impoundment of motor vehicles for safety inspections. Most shocking of all, the proposed ordinance includes a provision granting police powers to “community service aids” to issue tickets for violations on behalf of the city.
Read the proposed city ordinance below.
The proposed ban comes after multiple failed attempts to change state law and pressure the Coconino National Forest to initiate a permit system for popular roads around Sedona. Their first attempt would have allowed conservation groups and private land owners to acquire funding from the Arizona Off Highway Vehicle Program to pay for damages to private land caused by motorized use of public lands. The second attempt, recently vetoed by Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs, would have increased the weight that defines an OHV in the state of Arizona. In addition, the city has also tried to pressure the Coconino National Forest to implement a permit system to reduce traffic on forest roads around Sedona.
City of Sedona residents have been complaining about motorized vehicle use of National Forest roads since the 1980s. Since that time, there has been an ongoing effort to close roads in the surrounding National Forest. As of 2023, the majority of forest roads around Sedona have been closed by Travel Management planning and forest orders signed by the forest supervisor two decades ago. At the same time, motorized use of forest roads around Sedona, and public lands in general, has increased tenfold.
We have been warning the 4×4 community about the prospective actions of the City of Sedona. Almost everything we said would happen has already been implemented or tried over the past two years. The City has taken a hostile anti-motorized access approach to OHV issues and has been vocal about completely closing access to the surrounding public lands.
Watch: Talor Joy, an employee of a Sedona OHV rental company, destroys and threatens to sue the Sedona City council over the proposed OHV ban.
Special interest groups
The city of Sedona, Yavapia County, Arizona Game and Fish, and Arizona Parks and Trails have employed Southwest Decision Resources to facilitate and organize planning efforts through front groups such as the Verde Front Collaborative and the Greater Sedona Recreation Collaborative. They operate as facilitators and coconveners between various front groups and state and federal governments.
Southwest Decision Resources is responsible for facilitating the Greater Sedona Recreation Collaborative, which “aims to develop viable strategies to better mitigate, manage and maintain sustainable recreation through a facilitated process that values knowledge sharing, partner engagement and consensus-driven problem solving.” The City of Sedona has spent $50,000 throughout the process. The collaborative also includes funding from the Coconino National Forest, Arizona State Parks and Trails, Arizona Game and Fish, and Yavapai County.
The group has worked closely with the Red Rock OHV Conservation Crew (RROCC), established by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce as co-conveners between RROCC and state and federal agencies. RROCC consists of multiple OHV and 4×4 rental and tour companies in Sedona in partnership with Treadlightly! and is part of Sedona’s Sustainable Tourism Plan.
Southwest Decision Resources is also involved in several other projects across the state, including a recent forest order prohibiting dispersed camping around Sedona, dispersed camping prohibitions in the Verde Valley, the Tonto National Forest Resource Management Plan, and climate listening sessions used for the City of Tuscon’s 15-minute city Climate Action Plan.
During the Sedona City council meeting, Southwest Decision Resources gave a presentation detailing their efforts through the Greater Sedona Recreation Collaborative. Multiple members of the workgroup were present and provided testimony relating to their efforts to reduce OHV use in the area. Some of the efforts mentioned include the installation of motion sensor surveillance cameras and vehicle counters on popular forest roads around Sedona.
“This work has been done in the Moab area and other red rock related areas,” said a representative for Southwest Decision Resources. “I also think it’s fair to say, we have heard this from national organizations, we are leading some of these efforts.”
Despite the theatrics, Sedona Mayor Scott Jablow and the Council were not thrilled with the performance of Southwest Decision Resources and scolded them for not meeting their expectations. “On your assessment, under potential solutions, you have ‘reduce OHV volume through regulation and change of the policy.’ Really?” said Mayor Jablow. “Sorry! That’s been tried.” The Mayor continued, mentioning the recent veto of SB1100 by Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs. “I know the Governor vetoed that bill, and it’s not going to happen anytime soon,” he said.
Watch: Southwest Decision Resources tries to convince the city to continue participating in the Greater Sedona Recreation Collaborative in the video below.
For your safety
The city’s proposal has already been met with opposition from the Goldwater Institute, who sent city officials a letter warning their proposed ordinance is invalid under Arizona law. Multiple individuals also spoke in opposition to the proposed ordinance, including many employees and owners of OHV and Jeep rental and tour companies. In response, Mayor Scott Jabow suggested local OHV companies “reorganize” their business model and start trailering OHVs to the trailhead.
City officials repeatedly asserted the ordinance is needed for our “safety,” arguing that OHV manufacturers do not recommend the use of OHVs on highways. They cited letters from the Recreational Off Highway Vehicle Association and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America denouncing the use of OHVs on highways.
Watch: The city faces backlash over proposed regulations governing the use of equipment that doesn’t meet federal motor vehicle safety standards.
Please take action!
Please send an email to the city of Sedona to voice your opinion on this proposed ordinance.
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