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Arizona city to allow workers to sleep in their cars as it grapples with housing costs

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Arizona city to allow workers to sleep in their cars as it grapples with housing costs


An Arizona city has approved a program that would allow homeless workers to sleep in their cars amid skyrocketing housing prices, outraging residents, according to a report.

The Sedona City Council voted 6-1 to approve The Safe Place to Park program this week, which includes 40 designated parking spots for those employed full-time within the city limits with temporary bathrooms and showers on site, AZCentral reported.

Sedona, Arizona approved a program that will allow workers to sleep in their cars on city property. FiledIMAGE

“I don’t think there’s anybody up here or staff that are extremely proud of this. This is a last-ditch effort,” Mayor Scott Jablow said during a contentious, 7-hour meeting Tuesday where local residents spoke out against the program. “No one’s really proud because this isn’t really the answer. It’s one of many answers.”

Those enrolled in the program are required to be engaged with local social services with the ultimate goal of securing permanent housing, according to the outlet.

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Detractors say that the site will lead to pollution, drug use and other illegal activities, negatively impacting the park and local area.

Safe Place to Park is funded through a two-year grant from the Arizona Department of Housing. The site will be managed by the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition, who will be responsible for monitoring the lot from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. daily.

Vehicles must leave the premises during daytime hours.

The lot is located in a 6-acre parking lot in Sedona’s 41-acre Cultural Park on land the city purchased for $23 million last year, according to AZCentral. The area will not be visible to any residents in the area.

Sedona Mayor Scott Jablow called the program a “last ditch effort” to address affordable housing problems in the city. Scott Jablow for Mayor of Sedona/Facebook
Concerned Sedona residents say the program could lead to drug use and illegal activity in the area. benedek

City officials emphasized the program is only temporary and will conclude in 2026 when the two-year grant funding runs out. The land will also be rezoned in June 2026.

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The program comes after a year of planning as the city searched for a solution on how to house city workers while waiting for a number of affordable housing projects to be completed.

Supporters say the move will help those who would otherwise be illegally sleeping in their cars or city streets.

“If we don’t do this now, then there’s never going to be a time for us to do this,” said council member Melissa Dunn.

“We can wait two years until we have housing, but those people will be living on the street in their cars, will be living in the forest with unsafe conditions,” she added.

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Arizona

Donald Trump pushes the panic button on abortion in Arizona

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Donald Trump pushes the panic button on abortion in Arizona



Opinion: It’s not surprising that Trump would pivot on abortion. Now he’s demanding that his most loyal supporters do a U-turn on their principles, too.

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On Monday, Donald Trump said he wouldn’t support a federal abortion ban, that it should be up to each state to decide where to draw the line.

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On Wednesday, Trump said our particular state — Arizona — “went too far” in returning to a 19th century near-total ban on abortions.

And on Friday, Trump abandoned his states’ rights spiel altogether.

He hit the panic button and called for an immediate repeal of Arizona’s 1864 abortion ban — the one that our GOP-run Legislature intentionally left on the books in early 2022 in the hope that Roe v. Wade would be overturned.

“The Governor and the Arizona Legislature must use HEART, COMMON SENSE and ACT IMMEDIATELY to remedy what has happened … ,” Trump said on Friday in a post on Truth Social. “Arizona Legislature, please act as fast as possible!”

Trump wants abortion hard-liners to change

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It’s not surprising that Trump would pivot on the unborn. He’s been on most every side of the abortion issue since 1999 when he pronounced himself pro-choice.

Now, however, he’s calling on his most loyal supporters to do a U-turn on their principles, too. This, to ensure that Arizona, a vital battleground state, doesn’t slip through his — or their — fingers.

That may be an easy call for someone like Kari Lake.

She’s been one of the state’s most ardent pro-life crusaders, yet this week she was calling for abortion to be reinstated before the ink was even dry on the Arizona Supreme Court ruling that revived the 1864 ban.

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Several vulnerable Republican legislators — Sens. Shawnna Bolick and T.J. Shope and Rep. Matt Gress — have joined the call for a repeal.

But how do you convince the hard right Republicans who control the Arizona Legislature to abandon their beliefs on such a fundamental level?

That’s not so easy for the Arizona Legislature

Or do they simply hope that Democrats will bail them out by reinstituting abortion for them?

We all saw what happened on Wednesday when Gress tried to engineer a quick repeal of the 19th century ban on the House floor. 

Republicans ran like the wind, quickly adjourning so they wouldn’t have to take a position.

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In fact, though, they’ve already taken a position. Every Republican in the Legislature touts himself or herself as “100% pro life.”  

Abortion law could force: The GOP to fix itself

If they now repeal the 1864 law about to take effect, they make a mockery of their own belief that life begins at conception — that all abortion is murder.

If they put a competing measure on the November ballot, proposing that abortion be legal for up to 15 weeks, they send a message that “the ultimate sin,” as Lake calls it, is OK after all.

In 2022, 92% of abortions in Arizona occurred before 13 weeks, according to the state Department of Health Services. None occurred after 21 weeks.

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‘Unacceptable,’ Trump’s strongest supporters say

Now comes Trump — the president who takes credit for the demise of Roe v. Wade — asking pro-life Republicans to allow those abortions to continue. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Some of Trump’s strongest supporters are members of the Legislature’s hard right Arizona Freedom Caucus. They already were dismayed by the calls for repeal from Lake and other vulnerable Republicans.

“Sadly, it seems that some are choosing to reject the fundamental, core principle of protecting life,” the Freedom Caucus said on Tuesday. “Some have chosen instead to jump on the bandwagon to legalize unrestricted abortions for the first 15 weeks of pregnancy — a position that would permit 95% of all existing abortions to continue.

“This is unacceptable, morally wrong, and abrasively out of step with the central tenants of the Republican Party Platform and Republican voters. Murdering children is not a policy disagreement.”

Except, apparently, when it jeopardizes Trump’s reelection chances and their own control of the Legislature?

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Reach Roberts at laurie.roberts@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on X (formerly Twitter) at @LaurieRoberts.

Support local journalism: Subscribe to azcentral.com today.





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State Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s abortion ban. What does it mean for university admissions?

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State Supreme Court upheld Arizona’s abortion ban. What does it mean for university admissions?


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Sahara Sajjadi said this week’s decision from the state’s Supreme Court to uphold a Civil War-era abortion ban was a “letdown.”

“I feel like I’m never shocked when this news comes out, but always profoundly disappointed,” Sajjadi, 22, said.

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The graduate student studying at Arizona State University has had a few days to process the Arizona Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a 160-year-old law. The move bans nearly all abortions except in cases to save the life of the mother, and it could be a blow to Arizona’s universities as they seek to attract students from across the country.

The news has reverberated across state and national politics. While Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said women and doctors will not be prosecuted under the law, her commitments could still be disputed by a county attorney.

Still, a significant number of students say a state’s access — or lack thereof — to reproductive health care impacts their decision on where to go to college.

Kari Lake acknowledges ‘people are angry’ as abortion debate gets heated

How could the Arizona abortion ban affect higher education?

According to a study published last month by the Lumina Foundation and Gallup, around 71% of students polled said reproductive health care policies factor into their choice on where to go to college. Of them, eight in 10 say they prefer states with fewer restrictions.

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This opinion is consistent among a variety of groups regardless of age, gender and political affiliation, says lead researcher Courtney Brown. But women, and Black and Hispanic students polled stronger in favor of fewer restrictions.

“This isn’t just a young person or a female issue,” Brown said.

While there isn’t data that shows an impact in enrollment yet, Brown said it’s a strong possibility fewer students will look to attend universities in states with restrictive reproductive health care policies. A spokesperson with the Arizona Board of Regents, the presiding board over the state’s public university system, said the board doesn’t have available data on the topic.

If she was looking for a school under current circumstances, would the ban affect Sajjadi’s decision?

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“Absolutely,” she said. “What student in the modern day, a progressive young person, wants to be in a state that’s adhering to draconian laws?”

Rei Tedoco, 19, said she moved to Arizona from Ohio under the impression that the state had a different political climate. With a new ban coming down, Tedoco said she feels her quality of care is at risk.

“Just knowing that my safety is not number one in the legislature’s eyes is just really disappointing,” Tedoco said.

Arizona previously had a 15-week ban, passed in 2022 before Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court. The current law, which serves as a near-total ban, is one of the strictest in the country.

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Brown said these findings might affect out-of-state students more as they shop around for options. A drop in out-of-state enrollment would be significant as the state’s public colleges look to them for increased tuition revenue during a time when higher education budgets tighten.

“States are going to have a harder time recruiting students from out-of-state if those students say ‘You know, I’m not going to attend a school in a state that has policies that are counter to what I want,’” Brown said.

The trend extends to medical students as well. The majority of medical students said abortion access factored into their decision on where to accept a residency program, according to a 2023 study from the Journal of Medical Ethics.

Arizona is one of many states battling a shortage in health care professionals.

Recent estimates show more than 14,000 nurses and 3,000 physicians are needed by 2030 to satisfy shortages. The Board of Regents launched the recent campaign, AZ Healthy Tomorrow, to invest in the state’s health care workforce but the outcomes could be affected by where future professionals choose to practice.

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Helen Rummel covers higher education for The Arizona Republic. Reach her at hrummel@azcentral.com. Follow her on X, formerly Twitter: @helenrummel.





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A near-total ban on abortion has supercharged the political dynamics of Arizona, a key swing state

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A near-total ban on abortion has supercharged the political dynamics of Arizona, a key swing state


PHOENIX — Arizona was already expected to be one of the most closely contested states in November’s U.S. presidential election. But a ruling this week instituting a near-total abortion ban supercharged the state’s role, transforming it into perhaps the nation’s most critical battleground.

This Sunbelt state with a fierce independent streak has long been at the forefront of the nation’s immigration debate due to its 378-mile border with Mexico and its large Hispanic and immigrant populations. It now moves to the center of the national debate over reproductive rights after the U.S. Supreme Court ended a federally guaranteed right to abortion.

Abortion and immigration have been two of this year’s biggest political issues. No battleground state has been affected more directly by both than Arizona.

“Do not underestimate this,” Democratic pollster John Anzalone, who polls for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign, said of the Arizona abortion ruling. “It’s dynamic-changing.”

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Biden and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump are expected to fight hard to win Arizona after Biden carried the state four years ago by less than 11,000 votes.

In addition to the presidency, the U.S. Senate majority may be decided by the state’s high-profile contest between Republican Kari Lake and Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego in the race to replace retiring Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent who caucuses with Democrats.

The state Supreme Court’s ruling reviving an abortion ban passed in 1864 also added rocket fuel to Democrats’ push to add a question to the November ballot asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment protecting the right to abortion until viability, when a fetus could survive outside the womb. Later abortions would be allowed to save the woman’s life or protect her physical or mental health.

Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita, who also serves as chief of staff to the Republican National Committee, described Arizona as “a key part of the strategy.”

He declined to discuss any specifics on strategy but disagreed that the abortion ruling fundamentally changed Arizona’s dynamics.

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“Is abortion an issue that the campaign has to deal with in the battleground states — and more specifically in Arizona? Absolutely. We feel that we are doing that and we are exceeding what we need to do,” LaCivita said, even as he suggested other issues would be more salient for most Arizona voters this fall.

“The election is going to be determined really in large part based on the key issues that the vast majority of Arizonans have to deal with every single day, and that’s, ‘Can I afford to put food on the table and feed my family and get in the car to go to work?’” he said.

Democrats are quick to note that they have won virtually every major election in which abortion was on the ballot since the June 2022 reversal of Roe v. Wade.

The Biden campaign on Thursday launched a statewide abortion-related advertising campaign that it said would reach seven figures, although ad tracking firms had yet to confirm the new investment. The new ads come in addition to a $30 million nationwide advertising blitz that was already underway, according to Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz.

In the new ad, Biden links Arizona’s abortion restrictions directly to Trump.

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“Your body and your decisions belong to you, not the government, not Donald Trump,” Biden says. “I will fight like hell to get your freedom back.”

Beyond the ad campaign, Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to appear in Arizona on Friday to highlight the Democrats’ dedication to preserving abortion rights.

Even without this week’s abortion ruling, Democrats were already betting big on Arizona this fall.

Biden’s team is on track to spend more than $22 million on Arizona advertising between April 1 and Election Day, according to data collected by the ad tracking firm AdImpact. That’s millions more than other swing states like Wisconsin, Georgia and Nevada. Only Pennsylvania and Michigan are seeing more Democratic advertising dollars.

Trump’s team, meanwhile, isn’t spending anything on Arizona advertising this month and hasn’t yet reserved any general election advertising in the state, according to AdImpact.

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Yet Trump remains bullish on the state, which had backed a Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1996 before it narrowly supported Biden in 2020. They point to a modest shift among Hispanic voters, a core group in the Democratic coalition, which may be more open to Trump.

Meanwhile, Arizona Republicans are still bogged down by GOP infighting in a state where the party apparatus built and nurtured by the late Sen. John McCain has been usurped by Trump’s “Make America Great Again” loyalists.

The division came to a head in the 2022 primary for governor, when Trump and his allies lined up enthusiastically behind Kari Lake, while traditional conservatives and the business establishment backed her rival.

Lake won the primary. Rather than mend fences with the vanquished establishment, she gloated that she “drove a stake through the heart of the McCain machine.” She’s since made a more concerted effort behind the scenes to win over her GOP critics, with mixed results.

Lake, a major MAGA figure sometimes discussed as a potential Trump running mate, is now running in the state’s high-profile Senate race.

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Like Trump, she has come out against the latest abortion ruling, arguing it is too restrictive. But two years ago, Lake called the abortion ban “a great law,” said she was “incredibly thrilled” that it was on the books and predicted it would be “setting the course for other states to follow.”

The ruling played straight into the hands of Gallego, her Democratic rival, who had already put abortion rights at the center of his pitch to Arizona voters.

“I think we were on our way to winning this,” he said in an interview. “I think what it does is it focuses people’s attention on abortion rights that maybe weren’t thinking about it as the most important thing or one of the top issues.”

Meanwhile, Anzalone, the Biden pollster, warned his party against overconfidence.

“It’s not going to be easy. These are all close races. I’m not getting ahead of myself in any way,” he said of the fight for Arizona this fall. “But we like the advantage we have there.”

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