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Foothills Overlay

Key Resources 

Foothills Overlay Language
Overlay Location Map   


Development Standards



The Foothills Overlay (F-O) zoning district recognizes and preserves the rural desert character in the low density lands.  The district contains standards that define the area’s character with minimum visual impact.  The Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance (ESL) purpose of desert preservation and blending development to the desert, are supported by the F-O.


Specifically, these regulations are intended to:

  1. Conserve the character of the natural desert landscape.
  2. Minimize the impacts of development by controlling the location, intensity, pattern design, construction techniques, and materials of development and construction.
  3. Retain the visual character of the natural landscape to the greatest extent feasible by regulating building mass location, colors, and materials; grading location, design and treatment; and landscaping design and material.
  4. Maintain significant open spaces which provide view corridors and land use buffers, protect landmarks and prime wash habitats, and maintain the city’s unique desert setting.
  5. Protect environmentally sensitive lands, while also recognizing the reasonable expectations of property owners.
  6. Encourage innovative planning, design and construction techniques for development in environmentally sensitive areas.

Where is the Foothills area/How was it identified?

The Foothills area covers approximately eight square miles, generally between Dixileta Road to the north, Jomax Road to the south, 56th Street to the west and 96th Street to the east. 

A Character Area Plan for this area was approved by the City Council in July 1999. The Foothills area is distinguished from the surrounding area by several significant features:

  • An open, 'rural' character
  • The strong presence of the natural desert
  • Multiple property owners (approximately 1,115 in FO area) on one to five acre lots.

The Desert Foothills plan was the culmination of over two years of neighborhood and public involvement and input and reflects traditions that in many instances began before the area was annexed by the city in the early 1980's.


What is the community benefit of the overlay?

The overlay limits the perceived 'overbuilding' of properties in areas typically described as being rural and in doing so would limit to some degree what such properties could be used for. It would further support the purposes of the city's Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance (ESLO), which helps protect and preserve the natural land features north of the Central Arizona Project Canal.