No Time to Waste: Emergency Plan for Our Red Rock Paradise

Villager President’s Report 
August 2021
Camille Cox, President

No Time to Waste: Emergency Plan for Our Red Rock Paradise

At the suggestion of the Sedona Village Partnership, your mission-driven Big Park Council accepted a hand-off to formulate an Emergency Plan committee.  (Details in the Highlights section of this article.)

In the aftermath of the Paradise, CA wildfire, it was learned that the town’s impressive emergency planning overlooked some critical points that resulted in horrific tragedy.  Our Village “paradise” shares many vulnerability characteristics to that Golden State community. The urgent need for a planning effort is enunciated in this investigative article from the Los Angeles Times: (

The recent wild fires demonstrated for many of us that “channeling through” the plethora of information sources to find what you need absorbs precious time which, in the case of a fast-moving situation, would be unacceptable.  In addition to fires (wild and otherwise), there are many kinds of unpredictable emergencies that are seldom planned for because “It Will Never Happen to Me”.  And, what contingencies do we have in the face of interrupted internet and/or mobile phone service?

The concept advanced by the Council is to create a standing committee that will assess our community needs, develop a plan to put tools in place, and provide ongoing stewardship.  By press time, the volunteer working group will have drafted a purpose and scope for a Emergency Preparedness Plan committee to present at the August 12th Council meeting.  Watch for ways to get involved with this important endeavor, particularly if you have experience in the public safety field.

Just as the Sedona Village Partnership and Big Park Council are collaborating on meaningful work, the Sedona Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau (SCC&TB) recently reached out to work with us on sustainable tourism measures.

We have been invited to participate in a SCC&TB event called Pulse, to be held August 25th, 8pm at the Mary Fisher Theatre.  The goal of the event is for the City of Sedona, Big Park/VOC, Oak Creek Canyon and the US Forest Service to share information on how we are (or could be) collaboratively addressing local issues to ensure a balance between a thriving visitor economy/experience with stewardship of the environment and quality of life for residents.  This is an auspicious beginning, and experience suggests that when leaders and citizens gather to listen, learn and discuss – good outcomes ensue.

At the event we will be presenting survey data on how Village residents feel about Quality of Life issues, including tourism-related pain points.  This opportunity for all of us to expand “what we think we know” about the challenges at hand, and we encourage you to attend.  We applaud the Chamber for reaching out to the Village, and APS for their sponsorship.

Register (its FREE) at


Broadband and Supervisor Forums  Public forums were recently hosted by the Council on the Regional Broadband Initiative and with County Supervisor Donna Michaels. Both attracted more than 50 attendees, split between in-person at the Sedona Arts Academy and Zoom.  As our volunteers experiment with the new format, problems with Zoom audio will be resolved.  In light of the positive feedback from the two forums, other topics such as regional water issues may be offered in coming months.  Donna Michaels, our District 3 supervisor, is agreeable to a quarterly schedule. Suggestions from the community are encouraged.

Call for A/V Volunteers  The Council is seeking volunteers to help with staging the live/virtual meetings. One to manage the microphones in the audience and assist with setup.  A second volunteer who is adept with the Zoom platform is also needed, ideally someone who is neither a Representative or Officer.

Nominating Committee Members and 2022 Officers  In August there will be a call for 3-4 volunteers to serve on the Nominating Committee.  The assignment for this committee is short (90-days) and a “how-to” guide for the committee is in production. Individuals interested in serving are encouraged to send an email to

The president read a letter of resignation from Mark Moorehead addressed to the Community Plan Committee, explaining that he is moving from the Village.  Mark was an inaugural member of the Community Plan Committee and served as P&Z chairman in 2018 and 2019.  She expressed the Council’s appreciation for his years of service.

Emergency Preparedness Plan for Big Park  Gwen Hanna, director of the Sedona Village Partnership, spoke on the need for an emergency preparedness plan.  She posed the questions: As a community, are we Ready-Set-Go; Are adequate plans in place to assist the elderly, deal with pets and large animals;  Is signage sufficient; Do we have a mechanism to alert absentee homeowners, short term renters, tourists; Is there a plan to coordinate with businesses and/or hotels in an emergency situation?

Emergencies could be natural disasters such as fire and flood, security issues or other man-made danger.  She emphasized that just having a plan isn’t enough.  She explained the need for a pro-active strategy with clear coordination and transmittal of information as well as known roles and responsibilities for effective emergency actions and coordination with public safety agencies.

Horse Mesa Ranch’s connection with equine evacuation was noted to be an available resource for animal evacuations of other areas as well as a staging location for local evacuation.  In the recent Backbone and Rafael fires they received horses, as well as smaller animals.

Other comments raised traffic control and evacuation signage issues as well as the potential for telephone chains to be sure all residents are informed and accounted for in a disaster.  There is great value in a centralized point of information distribution, with acknowledgement that our population is constantly churning, with new arrivals, part-time residents and tourists.

A plan and an active stewardship team is recommended to ensure community safety in the event of natural disasters such as fire and flood, or security issues such as a shooting, bomb or other man-made danger.

The creation of a BPRCC committee on Emergency Preparedness was discussed in depth.  It was approved for a working group to develop a concept of an Emergency Preparedness Committee under the guidance of Gwen Hanna and Dave Norton; permitting a small group to develop a draft Purpose and Scope for Council review, potentially creating a dedicated committee. The recommendations of the working group will be circulated as part of the Council meeting information, to allow Representatives to share and discuss it with their members prior to a BPRCC vote.

Volunteers for the initial group include Gwen Hanna, Dave Norton, Camille Cox, Lenore Hemingway, Mary Pope, Art Bertolina and Bert Tibbet. This group is open to community members interested in serving.

Planning & Zoning  Committee Chair Mary Morris presented the results of inquiries to Yavapai Development Services on three properties which may have near term developments.  The properties are Plaza Del Sol, (405-27-324, 6050 SR 179), La Plaza (405-40-020G, 6560 SR 179) and 1525 Lee Mountain Road (405-33-005M).  The rumored Change of Use for these properties are all allowed by current zoning, no public participation hearings would be required.  Mary explained the limitations to the proposed uses and clarified that building permits would be required.

Community Plan   Chair Camille Cox reported that eight of the committee’s ten topic drafts have been presented and in August the committee will begin formatting for presentation to the community.  Yavapai County has created two new surveys for the County Comprehensive Plan Update – Environmental Elements and Energy. The surveys will be distributed via email and she encouraged all to take them and share with others.  The next Community Plan committee meetings are Aug. 2nd and Aug. 16th at the Sedona Arts Academy.

Meetings: Monthly meeting of the Council – August 12th, 9am via ZOOM.; Executive Board – August 3rd, 2pm.  See website calendar for committee meeting dates.