U.S. Tourist Destination Opens Safe Parking Lots Instead Of Affordable Housing

Image: Media News Group/ Long Beach Press (Getty Images)
Image: Media News Group/ Long Beach Press (Getty Images)

There’s a serious lack of affordable housing in cities across the country. Not only are housing prices outpacing wage growth, but many areas haven’t built enough housing. Officials at local and state levels don’t seem to know how to solve the problem either, moving to solutions like letting people sleep in their cars instead of building affordable housing. Sedona, Arizona is one of these cities, as the Washington Post reported.

Like many cities, Sedona is experiencing a double smack of unaffordability in housing and a growing number of working-class people who don’t make enough to afford it. And things have only gotten worse in the last few years due to the popularity of buyers snapping up short-term rentals. Says the Post:

Home prices have shot up 50 percent since 2020, from an average of $645,000 in the first half of 2020 to $971,000 in the first half of 2023, according to the staff report. Rent for an average two-bedroom apartment is now $2,150 a month.

Short-term rentals have greatly increased since 2020, from 744 (12 percent of the city’s housing stock) to 1,089 units (16 percent) now. That has provided more space for tourists and created jobs while “decreasing housing availability for locals,” according to the agenda item.


Arizona state law prevents counties and cities from banning short-term rentals, and with high interest rates, affordable housing can’t be built. So Sedona city officials have created a solution: take six acres in the west part of the city and make a parking lot so homeless people who live in their cars can have a safe space to sleep.

Council members voted 6-1 on March 12 to provide 40 first-come, first-served spots for people experiencing vehicular homelessness to have a safe place to park. If the effort earns enough signatures, the project will land on November’s ballot.

Of course, NIMBYism always rears its ugly head with things like this. Some residents were against the site, saying things like it would attract homeless people from other parts of the country to come to sleep there. None of that is the case, though. These people just want a safe space to sleep at night, like one resident who pleaded with the council to vote for the site, saying they have been forced to sleep in their car after their rent shot up 35 percent in two years. Head on over to the Post to read more about this sad situation.

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