Sedona is considering a Safe Place to Park program for people living in their vehicles
SEDONA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — The high cost of living in Sedona is causing more people to live out of their cars and local businesses say this is impacting worker retention. Now, the city is looking for safe spaces for them to park overnight while they address the larger issue.
The lot at Sedona’s Culture Park is a popular trailhead. At night, when the park closes, the parking lot sits empty, but that could soon change as the city looks for creative solutions to the affordable housing problem. Nico Ponchev owns Rose Vortex Cafe and employs multiple people who live in their cars and vans. He said he understands the need to with the high cost of living but it often leads to more turnover. “There is (sic) a lot of work opportunities in Sedona but no affordable public housing,” Ponchev said. “70% of the employees that I hire (leave) in approximately three months and the reason for that is because there is no affordable housing.
According to Rocket Homes, the median home price in Sedona is more than $1.2 million, up more than 11% from last year. Housing coordinator Jeanne Frieder said they have heard from locals this is causing more people to live out of their cars. “The cost of housing and the lack of housing is really something that prevents many people from living here so they wind up living in their car,” Frieder said
So, the city of Sedona is considering designating an area at Culture Park where people living out of their cars can park and stay safely. Frieder said it would have security and amenities like showers and restrooms. “It would be a place where workers who live in their cars can have a safe place to sleep, park, take a shower and then go to work and they’re living locally,” Frieder said.
Arizona’s Family spoke with multiple local business owners who didn’t want to go on camera who said they don’t think a parking lot will fix the housing problem. Frieder said while the city acknowledges the larger affordability issue, this is one small fix that could help people sooner. “There are several projects in the works. They’re in various stages of getting that shovel in the ground but it does take time,” Frieder said. “So, in the meantime, this is a temporary solution to help address the issues that our workforce is facing.”
Ponchev supports this plan but said they need it now. “If they really want to help local small business in Sedona, that’s a great idea as long as they can implement it immediately,” he said.
There is still a while before this can be implemented. Right now, the housing department is asking for feedback from people and if they see there is a real need for it then they’ll take it to the City Council to vote on. To share feedback, you can contact Frieder at email@example.com or 928-203-5138.
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