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Low Density Scottsdale Saves Native Plants by Ordinance – Citizens Oppose Arizona HB 2570 (April 9, 2015)

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Trailhead at Westworld, on East McDowell Mountain Ranch Road in North Scottsdale. Native plants in abundance.

Under Construction.  The 2015 Arizona Legislative session just ended, and citizens of Scottsdale were relieved that Arizona House Bill 2570 (HB-2570) did not pass.  This bill would have made it illegal for Arizona cities to require that developers salvage and replant native plants.

Like other cities in the metropolitan area, including Phoenix, developers in Scottsdale are required by city ordinance to salvage and replant native plants.  In Scottsdale, the original native plant ordinance was passed in 1981.

In 2015, The City of Scottsdale even encouraged its constituents to call their elected officials to vote against HB 2570.

For most areas of town, Scottsdale’s density is very low, with large lots, wide streets, greenbelts, and lots of open space with native vegetation.  Areas of higher residential density are limited to the traditional downtown (near Old Town), and the emerging Scottsdale Quarter in the north part of town.

Residents of Scottsdale wish to preserve the native desert environment, and started buying land for the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve, by raising sales taxes in 1995.  Indeed, the emerging McDowell Sonoran Preserve will be the largest natural preserve of any U.S. city, covering 33% of the city limits of Scottsdale, nearly tied with the 34% statistic in the demographically similar Los Angeles “edge city” of Thousand Oaks, California.

Indeed, Thousand Oaks, metro Phoenix, Scottsdale, and other cities in Maricopa County (AZ) and Ventura County (CA), have traditionally established large preserves with extensive urban trail systems. South Mountain Park in Phoenix is the largest preserve of any U.S. city (by acreage, at nearly 19,000 acres).

List of Protected Native Plants

Quoting from the City of Scottsdale Web Site:  http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/codes/nativeplant/plantlist

“Protected native plant shall mean cacti which are three (3) feet or greater in height and trees which are four (4) inches or greater in caliper of the following species.”

“If any of the following protected plants, in the indicated sizes, are being disturbed by your project you are required to submit a native plant program as outlined in the amended zoning ordinance section 7.500:”

TREES

Botanical Name
Acacia constricta
Acacia greggii
Berberis haematocarpato
Canotia holocantha
Celtis pallida
Cercidium floridum
Cercidium microphyllum
Chilopsis linearis
Juniperous species
Olneya tesota
Populus fremontii
Prosopis species
Quercus species
Rhus ovata
Vauquelinea CalifornicaCACTI   Botanical Name
Carnegiea gigantea
Ferocactus species
Fouquieria splendens
Peniocereus greggii
Yucca elata
Common Name
White Thorn Acacia
Cat Claw Acacia
Red Barberry
Crucifixion Thorn
Hackberry
Blue Palo Verde
FootHills Palo Verde
Desert Willow
Juniper
Ironwood
Cottonwood
Mesquite
Scrub Oak
Sugar Sumac
Arizona Rose WoodCommon Name

Saguaro
Barrel
Ocotillo
Night-Blooming Cereus
Soaptree Yucca

“Single family projects are required to submit a native plant program at the time of submittal for building plan reviews. Commercial projects are required to submit a native plant program no later than the time of application for Development Review Board. A native plant permit is required to remove, relocate, or destroy any plant protected by the ordinance. Permits will not be issued unless submitted in conjunction with an approved or proposed development project. A permit will be issued after the native plant program has been approved.”

Indigenous Plant List – for water conservation requirements, etc (with photos)

Arizona State Protected Native Plant List

Envrionmental Regulations in Scottsdale

In addition to the native plant ordinance, Scottsdale preserves the environment in many other ways. For example, The Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance (ESLO) protects 134 square miles of hilly and mountainous areas, located north and east of the Central Arizona Project canal. This area includes the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  There are many natural washes in this area that are subject to flash flooding.  The washes are filled with native plants and/or irrigated turfgrass, as shown by many photos on this web page.

Compared to Scottsdale, Smart Growth Cities Do Not Save Native Plants

Over the next few posts, I’ll show photos of very nice, low density neighborhoods and parks in Scottsdale covered with native plants, required by Scottsdale’s native plant ordinance. I’ll also point out that “smart growth cities” do not save native vegetation. Instead, they tend to clearcut desert vegetation and tall pine and douglas fir trees, to make room for “smart growth towers” arising from residential neighborhoods, at densities of up to 32dU/acre.

Overall, I’ll demonstrate that lower density, Republican adjudicated cities, such as Scottsdale, Bellevue, Thousand Oaks, Reno, and the suburbs of Salt Lake City, are actually “greener,” compared to Democrat run cities with “smart growth,” such as Seattle, Eugene, and Boulder.  Historically, this was not the case. Suburbs of blue collar, now post-industrial cities such as Seattle, were very green with large lots (i.e. Renton, Washington).  Today, Republicans are the “new environmentalists,” in terms of green neighborhood design in master planned communities, with native plants, bike trails, large lots, and open space. The Democrats are no longer green, they sold out to the international smart growth construction companies years ago, such as Port Blakely Holdings.

Randal O’Toole’s American Dream Coalition points out that smart growth cities do not protect open space, in this thoughtful essay.  The coalition, just like Scottsdale, encourages the development of walkable communities with large parcels of public open space.

Scottsdale Home Under Construction – Native Plants Preserved in Front Yard

Beautiful native plants have been preserved by ordinance in the front and side yards of this North Scottsdale home under construction, near Cactus and Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd.  The street is lined with native plants, with properties averaging about one acre each.

New home in North Scottsdale with native plants preserved.

New home in North Scottsdale with native plants preserved.

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The street with the home under construction features lush native plants, and properties average one acre each.

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A corner view of the house under construction.

Saguaro.

Saguaro for native plant salvage in new development near Pinnacle Peak in North Scottsdale.

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Native Plant Survey near Pinnacle Peak.

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The Development.

Greyhawk HOA in North Scottsdale

grey3The Greyhawk HOA in North Scottsdalefeatures low density housing, including single family homes, apartments, condominiums, and trendy shopping and dining areas, including a full size Frys Signature Grocery Store, within walking distance along wide streets and curved sidewalks and bike paths.

The area is quite popular with both families, retirees, and young singles.  Due to the area’s low density, crime is very low, compared to South Scottsdale, Tempe, and Central Phoenix.

Greyhawk provides wide streets with wide sidewalks and bike paths. The washes have been filled with irrigated turfgrass, where people walk their dogs.  Parks and the local Scottsdale Healthcare (dba Honor Health) medical center campus have been replanted with native plants.

greyhawklNote that the oversized discount Frys signature store would not be allowed by proponents of smart growth, who like to limit the square footage of big box stores, or even ban them all together..  The Greyhawk Frys Signature Store receives great reviews on Yelp, due to its selection of quality foods.

Below is a typical street view, demonstrating the abundance of natural vegetation, replanted by the developer. More photos, later.

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Typical street in Greyhawk with native plants replanted by the developer.

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Greyhawk residential streets with native vegetation all the way to the curbs, providing exceptional privacy for the residents.

This wash in Greyhawk has been planted with irrigated turfgrass, that is green most of the year. Smart growth cities do not replant their washes with grass or native plants. Instead, they divert water into fenced retention basins that collect mosquitos.

This wash in Greyhawk has been planted with irrigated turfgrass, that is green most of the year. Smart growth cities do not replant their washes with grass or native plants. Instead, they divert water into fenced retention basins that collect mosquitos.

WWgreyhawk

CLICK TO ENLARGE, and read instructions for Greyhawk contractors, so they do not damage native plants.

This Greyhawk retention basin has been beautifully turned into a sunken park, with irrigated turfgrass, native plants, and a private barbeque grill and shade pavilion (not shown, it's a secret location for HOA members only!).  Would you rather share a barbeque grill in a public playground, next to restrooms shared with thousands of potential neighbors living in smart growth towers, or, have a private grill shared only with your neighbors who pay modest HOA dues to keep it clean?

This Greyhawk retention basin has been beautifully turned into a sunken park, with irrigated turfgrass, native plants, and a private barbeque grill and shade pavilion (not shown, it’s a secret location for HOA members only!). Would you rather share a barbeque grill in a public playground, next to restrooms shared with thousands of potential neighbors living in smart growth towers, or, have a private grill shared only with your neighbors who pay modest HOA dues to keep it clean?

McDowell Mountain Ranch

No Overnight Parking on streets, similar to Sunriver, Oregon, and Thousand Oaks, California.  This makes conditions safe for pedestrians and cyclists at night. Smart Growth Cities do not ban parking on streets.

No Overnight Parking in the McDowell Mountain Ranch HOA.

The McDowell Mountain Ranch HOA is located near Greyhawk in North Scottsdale. This HOA is above much of the rest of Scottsdale, with sweeping views to South Mountain Park near Tempe, westward to the Cave Buttes west of Deer Valley, and northward to Black Mountain in Cave Creek.

In fact, it was just two miles from the McDowell Mountain Ranch that Frank Lloyd Wright bought property at Taliesin West, also in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains.

While a bit denser than Greyhawk, the HOA features native plants in abundance, and a few examples of mid century architecture that reminds me of Sunriver in Oregon, such as the Community Center, below.

In addition, the HOA is incredibly bike and pedestrian friendly, with bike lanes and sidewalks, even on four lane boulevards.  One can bicycle down to trails in Westworld, that lead further south into metro Scottsdale, and the central park leading to Old Town.

And, overnight parking is banned on residential streets, making conditions safe for pedestrians and cyclists at night.  In contrast, smart growth cities encourage street parking, creating very dangerous conditions at night.

mcdctr

McDowell Mountain Ranch HOA Community Center.

Typical street in McDowell Mountain Ranch.

Typical street in McDowell Mountain Ranch.

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Pedestrian and bike friendly road in McDowell Mountain Ranch, with plentiful native plants per Scottsdale Native Plants Ordinance.

From McDowell Mountain Ranch HOA, this is a view of the very green DC Ranch HOA. In the distance (NNW) you can see Black Mountain in the Townes of Carefree / Cave Creek, and the mountains north of Cave Creek, part of the Tonto National Forest.

From McDowell Mountain Ranch HOA, this is a view of the very green DC Ranch HOA. In the distance (NNW) you can see Black Mountain in the Townes of Carefree / Cave Creek, and the mountains north of Cave Creek, part of the Tonto National Forest.

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Westworld 

McDowell Mountain Ranch has an interesting history of development, and developers, including the Newhall Land and Farming Company, who developed Valencia in Santa Clarita, California, north of the San Fernando Valley.

The HOA terminates at federally owned property which is part of Westworld.  This is a 365 acre outdoor and indoor event center, on land owned by the Bureau of Reclamation (because it is a floodplain), and adjudicated by the City of Scottsdale.

Westworld contains at least three retention basins for flooding, that can also be used for outdoor events.  At least one of these, Horseman’s Park, is filled with irrigated turfgrass (below).

A smart growth city would never allow a retention basin to be used for other purposes. Instead, a smart growth city would fence off the basin, and allow it to accumulate water, attracting mosquitos that spread disease.

Horsemen’s Park:

xhorsemens

Horsemen’s Park with irrigated turfgrass in a retention basin at Westworld. In the far distance is the McDowell Mountains HOA.

From the horse trailer parking lot at Westworld, the rust colored, mid century modern building is the Arabian Library, within the McDowell Mountain Ranch HOA. To the right is one of the Scottsdale schools.   In the distance are homes within the McDowell Mountain HOA.

From the horse trailer parking lot at Westworld, the rust colored, mid century modern building is the Arabian Library, within the McDowell Mountain Ranch HOA. To the right is one of the Scottsdale schools. In the distance are homes within the McDowell Mountain HOA.

Map of several HOA's, Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, and trails within the McDowell Mountains Preserve. Sorry, photo is blurry since the camera has been dropped too many times in too many states. Time for the old clearance model of the newest model camera (sarcasm intended).

CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE TEXT.  Map of several HOA’s in North Scottsdale, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, and trails within the McDowell Mountains Preserve. Sorry, photo is blurry since the camera has been dropped too many times in too many states. Time for the old clearance model of the newest model camera (sarcasm intended).

wwtrail1 (2)

Parallel trails at Westworld. Note the Thompson Peak bridge.

DC Ranch HOA – One of the Richest in North Scottsdale

And, they have a high budget for native plants, here is a view out the driver’s seat stopped at a light on Thompson Peak Boulevard with wildflowers in April, 2015 –

dcranch

Beautiful intersection in DC Ranch HOA with native plants and wildflowers.

DC2

DC Ranch HOA.

Scottsdale North and South of Shea Blvd.

North of Shea are larger lots with beautiful native plants. Many HOA’s seem to prohibit or limit Palm Trees. Here’s a corner lot in a nice neighborhood North of Shea where extra native plants have been brought in, extending over the curb. Very nice and I wish I could take photos of individual homes, this was a very nice house. Can’t do it for legal reasons, same with people and license plates. Oh well ! Beautiful corner lot –

Beautiful corner lot in North Scottsdale.

Beautiful corner lot in North Scottsdale.

McDowell Sonoran Preserve

More, later, stay tuned.

zPRESERVE2

ZPRESERVE

The Gateway Entrance to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve.  A bizarre photo - looking east at sunset! Thunderstorms in March, 2015 from a low pressure system over New Mexico created unusual lighting conditions.

The Gateway Entrance to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. A bizarre photo – looking east at sunset! Thunderstorms in March, 2015 from a low pressure system over New Mexico created unusual lighting conditions.

zmcdpsve

Map of Southern part of McDowell Sonoran Preserve.

Native Plant Inventory – Plants Salvaged for the Scottsdale Appaloosa Library

The native plant salvage nursery (Desierto Verde) for the Scottsdale Appaloosa Library (opened, 2010) conducted an inventory of native plants before construction.  In the tables below, plants designated as salvageable are indicated by Y for Yes. Plants designated as not salvageable are indicated by N for No, with the reasons why.   Of 71 native plants found on the site, 24 were designated as non salvageable.  The remaining 47 plants were either left in place, or, replanted on the site after library construction.

The Apaloosa Library in North Scottsdale.

The Apaloosa Library in North Scottsdale.

zappa23

CLICK TO ENLARGE AND READ TEXT within your web browser. Native plant inventory from Desierto Verde.

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CLICK TO ENLARGE AND READ TEXT within your web browser.

Desierto Verde nursery is used by the Cities of Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, and Peoria, to salvage native plants before construction:

“In 1986, the City of Scottsdale, Arizona became the first municipality to adopt the Desierto Verde-pioneered method of native vegetation transplanting. Over the next two decades, many other communities followed Scottsdale’s lead, resulting in Desierto Verde techniques becoming the community standard for cities like Phoenix, Mesa and Peoria, Arizona.”

zappastr

Appaloosa Library entrance in North Scottsdale.

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Appaloosa Library features a gravel parking lot to absorb rainfall. In contrast, smart growth parking lots are usually paved, with water diverted into fenced retention basins that attract mosquitoes.

zappaOFF

The first class Scottsdale City Council, Library Board, et. al. The City, has a 95% citizen satisfaction rate, which is, ironically, about the same as the smart growth mecca of Boulder, Colorado. Actually, I like both cities, but Scottsdale is more to my liking because of the native plants and low density.

Native Plants in Scottsdale Public Parks

Public parks in Scottsdale feature everything from non native Eucalyptus and Palm Trees to an abundance of native species. Newer parks in North Scottsdale, generally considered to be north of Shea Boulevard, have a particular focus on native plants. Older parks in Central and South Scottsdale, such as those in the vicinity of McCormick Ranch, generally feature “tropical” species such as palm trees.

Northsight Park, near Costco, and the Scottsdale Airpark, features an abundance of native plants and perfectly irrigated turfgrass.

northsight

Northsight Park in North Scottsdale.

znorths znorths2

“Scottsdale Towers” – Against the Mountains – “Two Downtowns” in a Low Density Suburban City

The City of Scottsdale enforces strict standards for native plant preservation, although they essentially have planned “two downtowns” with tall buildings (Old Town in South Scottsdale, and, Scottsdale Quarter, in North Scottsdale).  The City approves, as I call them, “Scottsdale Towers” in these downtowns, set against the mountains. These smart growth towers are rising out of low density suburbs, blooming with native plants. Indeed, this is the same pattern is observed in Bellevue, Washington, near my “ex-hometown of Seattle.”

As Scottsdale continues to grow, it will be interesting to see how many additional smart growth towers are approved. Bellevue has taller buildings than Scottsdale, surrounded by a forest of 101 HOA’s, photos here.  Residents of Bellevue and Scottsdale towers can easily escape their respective downtown areas, and find hundreds of miles of running and cycling trails, in the trees and desert, respectively.  Seattle, on the other hand, clearcuts its native trees, and does not even have a tree preservation ordinance.  John Fox of Seattle’s Displacement Coalition, criticizes the Seattle Mayor, for failing to save native trees:

“And then there’s the [Seattle] Mayor’s Urban Forest Management Plan that emphasizes planting new trees, but fails to address the loss of mature trees.  Here again, his plan to accommodate runaway density in Seattle fuels the loss of our existing tree canopy – much of which is on private “developable” land.”

“But what makes Nickel’s Urban Forest Management Plan the worst sort of greenwashing is that his own policies aggravate the loss of tree cover in Seattle. Upzoning the city – trumpeted as a way of preventing urban sprawl – in reality creates irresistible pressures to cover every square foot of lots with buildings. Much of our urban forest exists in the back yards of single-family residential zones, which are coming increasingly under attack for occupying land that could go to denser development.”

In Scottsdale’s “north downtown,” these residential towers were under construction in April, 2015:

zsquarter

Residential towers under construction in the Crescent Scottsdale Quarter, in North Scottsdale, from http://crescentsq.com/ and Mark Taylor Residential: http://www.mark-taylor.com/  The McDowell Mountains in the background (looking ENE).

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New tower in North Scottsdale on Scottsdale Road. Owner / developer / management company unknown.

Desert Cities Without Scottsdale Native Plant Standards

In Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and Palm Desert, California, developers are allowed to bulldoze all native creosote bush and Encilia faranosa prior to development.  Exotic, nursery grown plants are brought in, along with gravel and sharp rocks:

Palm Springs, California home with sharp rocks, exotic nursery grown plants, and no native plants.  And no trees, not even a single palm tree!

Palm Springs, California home with sharp rocks, exotic nursery grown plants, and no native plants. And no trees, not even a single palm tree!

Palm Desert, California street with sharp rocks and nursery grown plants in the front yards.

Palm Desert, California street with sharp rocks and nursery grown plants in the front yards.

Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Albuquerque and nearby Rio Rancho, New Mexico have relatively small lot sizes on the west mesa.  Native vegetation includes pinyon pines, juniper, scrub oak, sagebrush, wild grasses, and cacti.  Unfortunately, native species are not planted after development. “Gravelscaping,” featuring large areas of sharp gravel and stone, along with non-native hardwood trees and succulents, are planted.

Ultimately, the neighborhoods will mature and look like yards in the Midwest, much like the older well established areas of Albuquerque and also Denver.  To enhance property values and aesthetic appeal, a native plant ordinance could be established.

A new neighborhood in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

A new neighborhood in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.

The New Mexico National Guard in Rio Rancho. Native vegetation is quite prolific in this high desert ecosystem. Note the native pinyon pines and junipers on the distant hill.

The New Mexico National Guard in Rio Rancho. Native vegetation is quite prolific in this high desert ecosystem. Note the native pinyon pines and junipers on the distant hill to the right.

New park in Albuquerque on the west mesa.  The wild grass on both sides of the street is bulldozed and replaced with gravel. This is unfortunate, since wildflowers bloom in this grass during the summer monsoons.

New park in Albuquerque on the west mesa. The wild grass on both sides of the street is bulldozed and replaced with gravel. This is unfortunate, since wildflowers bloom in this grass during the summer monsoons.

More native brush in Albuquerque that will produce wildflowers during the summer monsoons, if it isn't destroyed to make this a four lane boulevard on the west mesa.

More native brush in Albuquerque that will produce wildflowers during the summer monsoons, if it isn’t destroyed to make this a four lane boulevard on the west mesa.

Typical neighborhood with gravelscaping on Albuquerque's west mesa.

Typical neighborhood with gravelscaping on Albuquerque’s west mesa.

published draft  4-9-2015  / 4-11, 4-12, Tom Lane

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