> Home > Codes and Ordinances > ESLO Fact Sheet

ESLO Fact Sheet

Undeveloped lot with an ESL overlay?

The city has recently developed an instructional diagram that demonstrates how to determine the buildable lot area.


The Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance (ESLO) is a set of zoning regulations adopted by the City Council in 1991 (amended in 2001, 2003 and 2004) to guide development throughout the 134 square miles of desert and mountain areas of Scottsdale. These areas are located north and east of the Central Arizona Project canal.

Key Resources

The most recent City Council adopted changes to the ESL Ordinance became effective March 22, 2007.

Citizens Guide to ESL


ESL Overlay Textlinks to external site

ESLO History

Exemption Schedule

Design Standards & Policies Manual​

Wash Modifications

Hardship Exemptions

Indigenous Plant List for ESL

List of Protected Native Plants

What is NAOS?

NAOS Forms (Easements,
Modification, Enhancement, etc)

We're Here to Help

Don't know who to call, where to start... staff is available to personally answer your questions and respond to specific questions.

Call 480-312-7800 or email planninginfo@scottsdaleaz.gov


The intent and purpose of the ESLO is to identify and protect environmentally sensitive lands in the City and to promote public health and safety by controlling development on these lands. The ordinance requires that a percentage of each property be permanently preserved as natural area open space and that specific environmental feature, including vegetation, washes, mountain ridges and peaks, be protected from inappropriate development.

Community Benefit

The ESLO has a direct impact on the citizens of Scottsdale as its key provisions determine the location and design of residential, commercial, industrial and institutional development in two-thirds of the City. Application of the ESLO, and its predecessor the Hillside Ordinance, has resulted in the preservation of over 9,000 acres of Sonoran Desert open space while protecting our citizens from
potential flooding, erosion and visual blight.


Staff Contacts: