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Glossary of Terms

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A measure of land containing 43,560 square feet. Zoning and General Plan land use categories are frequently measure in acres.

A volume of water one-foot deep covering an acre of land. This term is often used in defining storm or drinkable water storage capacity.

Active Recreation
Recreational activities that require the use of organized play areas, such as playing fields, swimming pools, and basketball courts. Contrasted to passive recreation, which does not require the use of such areas.

Activity Centers
Places (individually or collectively) such as schools, libraries and parks where individuals and organizations congregate for leisure, community affairs, attending cultural and educational programs or shopping. Also areas where future development is focused but smaller in area than the city's Growth Areas.

See "Americans with Disabilities Act"

Adaptive Reuse
Developing a new use for an older building or for a building originally designed for a special or specific purpose. This is particularly useful as a technique for preserving older buildings of historic or architectural significance. It also applies to the conversion of special use structures, such as gas stations, train stations, or school buildings that are no longer needed for their original purpose.

Elements in the natural or created environment (including artistic elements) that are pleasing to the eye.

Affordability (Housing)
Housing that can be rented or purchased by a household with entry level or "workforce" income.

A narrow service way, usually unpaved, that provides means of public access not intended for general traffic circulation typically located along rear property lines. Alleys are often used for utility access, garbage or trash pick-up, and maintenance.

Alternative Energy Source
Energy sources that do not rely on fossil fuels, including sunlight and wind.

The character or tone of an area, as determined by building scale and design, amount and type of activity, intensity of use, location and design of open space, and related factors that influence the perceived quality of the environment.

A natural or created feature that enhances the aesthetic quality, visual appeal, or makes a particular property, place, or area more attractive or satisfying.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
1990 Federal legislation specifying provisions to be made in the design or redesign of buildings, parking, and outdoor areas to remove barriers for persons with disabilities and guaranteeing equal opportunity in public accommodations, transportation and government services.

The incorporation of land area into an existing community with a resulting change in the boundaries of that community. Annexation may include newly incorporated land from County lands or land transferred from one municipality to another.

Archaeological Resource
Any material remains of past human life or activities which are at least fifty years old and of historic or pre-historic significance. These materials include petroglyphs, pictographs, paintings, ornaments, jewelry, textiles, ceremonial objects, armaments, rock art, pottery, basketry, bottles, weapons, tools, structures or portions of structures, carvings, graves, etc.

Archaeological Site
A concentration of archaeological resources inferred to be locations used for past human activities.

Arterial Street
A major road mainly serving through-traffic, not local neighborhood traffic. Arterials take traffic to and from freeways and other arterials and provide access to adjacent properties.

A form of land development that depends on exposure to auto traffic and presumes people will use cars to travel to and from the site.




A relatively short post used on or along a street or path for decoration, lighting, or traffic control.

Bicycle Lane
A separate lane on a roadway that is reserved for bicyclists and marked off by lane striping.

A corridor designated for bicyclists. Bikeways include bicycle paths not part of a vehicle roadway and bicycle routes.

United States Bureau of Land Management

Boulder Features (ESLO definition)
Exposed bedrock clusters produced by the weathering of granite or other bedrock in places, which have a least one dimension of 15 feet or more across, a height at one point above the surrounding terrain of 10 feet or more, and includes a minimum setback of 20 feet around the entire feature. The locations of boulder features are designated by the city on maps.

An area of land separating two distinct land uses that acts to soften or mitigate the effects of one land use on the other. Often the buffered area is undeveloped open space, landscaped areas, fences, walls, berms, or any combination of these things.

Buildable Area
The area of a lot remaining after the minimum yard and open space requirements of the Zoning Ordinance have been met.

Building Envelope Technique
A technique for building and construction, which disturbs a minimal area of the buildable part of a parcel.

Building Mass
The height, width and depth of a building or structure.

Building Scale
The relationship of a building, in terms of building mass, to other nearby and adjacent buildings.

The point at which land eligible for development under the General Plan has been developed to its maximum allowed level. Buildout does not preclude revitalization, infill, or redevelopment efforts.

Built Environment
Man-made elements such as buildings, structures, roadways, canals, paths, trails, etc., that together create the physical character of an area.

Business Retention
City programs aimed at supporting, retaining, and sustaining local businesses.





See "Central Arizona Project"

Capital Improvement
New or expanded public improvements that are relatively large size, expensive and permanent. Some common examples are streets, public libraries, water and sewer lines, and park and recreation facilities.

Capital Improvements Plan or Program (CIP)
A plan for the construction of capital improvements that includes their timing and cost.

Car Pool, Car Pooling
Two or more people commuting on a regular basis to and from work in a privately owned vehicle.

Cave Creek Unified School District
One of the five special districts that provides public education to residents of Scottsdale and some outlying areas. Owns and operates elementary and secondary schools throughout the city.

Commercial and mixed use areas (including municipal facilities) of the city that serve as the focus for community life. Centers may serve the region, the city, general neighborhoods, or a single neighborhood.

Central Arizona Project (CAP)
The 336 mile long system constructed to deliver Colorado River water from Lake Havasu into central and southern Arizona.

Central Business District (CBD)
Major commercial downtown center of a community. General guidelines for delineating a CBD are defined by the US Census of Retail Trade; specific boundaries are specified by the community. Usually containing major retail uses, governmental offices; service uses, professional, cultural, recreational, and entertainment establishments and uses; residences, hotels, and motels; appropriate industrial activities; and transportation facilities.

See "Cubic feet per second"

The straightening and/or enlarging or deepening of a watercourse for the purposes of storm runoff control.

Character Area Plan
Middle part of the three-level General Plan structure that provides specific planning and design proposals for a defined sub-area of the city, smaller than citywide general planning, but larger than Neighborhood Plans.

Character Area Study
The process of crafting a Character Area Plan involving research background information and reports, public involvement, and creating guidelines and implementation strategies.

An intensive workshop-like effort, usually over one or two days, by a variety of interested stakeholders to develop a design solution to a given problem.

See "Capital Improvements Plan or Program"

City Charter
The document which outlines the structure and processes of a city's government and identifies the powers and limitations. Serves as the city's "constitution".

A person who lives, works, or owns property in Scottsdale.

Citizen Participation
Public involvement in the city's policy formation and implementation.

City Council
A seven member elected body of Scottsdale residents responsible for governing the city and making decisions regarding the provision of city services and resolution of civic issues.

CityShape 2020
The public process conducted from 1994-1996 designed to be a comprehensive review of Scottsdale's General Plan to make sure it was consistent with the Shared Vision from Scottsdale Visioning. It established the three tiered General Plan structure (Citywide, Character, and Neighborhood) and the Six Guiding Principles to be used in guiding decisions on planning related issues.

Civic Use
Any building or property that serves a public function, including schools, libraries, City Hall, post offices, police and fire stations, and recreational and cultural facilities.

Clustering/Cluster Development
Essentially any development approach that locates buildings in limited areas on a site and results in a more compact arrangement of buildings on a property. This allows the remaining land to be used for open space and creates larger blocks of connected open space in lieu of smaller, individual portions.

Collector Street
Roadway that "collects" and "distributes" local traffic to and from arterial streets, and provides access to adjacent properties.

Community Center
Facility in which public services for residents are provided, including recreational and cultural services, and services for youth or seniors.

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
Grant program administered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Grants must primarily be used to benefit low-income households with emphasis on housing and public improvement projects.

Community Facilities District
A designated area of the city with specific boundaries that is assessed the costs of specific improvements, including: street paving, sidewalks, crosswalks, curbs, gutters, culverts, bridges, fire hydrants, sewers, power lines, water lines, and street lighting. The purposes for which community facilities may be formed rests with the County Board of Supervisors and Arizona State Law. Community Facilities Districts are developer driven and paid for by the homeowners through additional property taxes. A community facilities district usually has a 25-year term.

Capable of existing together without significant conflict or ill effects.

Construction Envelope
One or more specified areas on a lot or parcel within which all structures, driveways, parking, decks, walks, and improved facilities are located. Underground utilities may be located outside the construction envelope.

A linear pattern of similar land uses (like a commercial corridor); or a major transportation route, including freeways, expressways, arterials, or transit lines; or any major utility route, such as transmission lines, canals, or greenbelts.

Council/Manager Government
A type of municipal government in which the chief executive or administrative official is a manager selected by the elected City Council. Scottsdale uses the Council/Manager form of government.

Cubic Feet per Second (c.f.s.)
A measure of flowing water in a watercourse (a lake, river, creek, stream, wash, arroyo, or other channel over which water flows at least periodically). Also used to measure any liquid or gas.

Curb Lane
Portion of a street next to the curb that can be used for onstreet parking or auto or bicycle travel.

Customer Service
In the context of the General Plan, refers to courteous treatment of the public, and efficient, responsive delivery of services by city employees.




Decibel (dB)
A unit describing the loudness of sound.

Usually: the number of housing units per acre of land in residential districts. Gross density is defined as the total number of units divided by the total land area of the site, excluding nothing. Net density is the total number of units divided by the net area of the lot or site (excluding roads, public open space, utility rights-of-way, and community facilities).
Density is often used interchangeably with intensity. Intensity refers to the level or concentration of activity occurring on a site or in an area.

Density Bonus
A provision in development regulations that allows a development to include additional residential units or square footage beyond the maximum otherwise allowed by zoning, usually in exchange for the provision or preservation of an amenity at the same site or another location.

Density Transfer
The transfer of all or part of the permitted density on a parcel to another parcel, usually in a master planned development.

Design Guidelines
Provisions guiding the design of buildings that are not mandatory but may be used by staff, the city's advisory Boards and Commissions, and the City Council in evaluating projects. Design guidelines are usually applied in a particular area or to a particular use to protect investment and/or establish a unifying look for an area. Typical guidelines might focus on issues such as building orientation, architectural details and the streetscape.

Design Review
See "Development Review"

The temporary storage of stormwater overflow, usually in a basin or channel.

The legal owner of land who holds entitlement for the use, improvement or construction on that land. The developer may be an individual property owner, a partnership of individuals, or a company or corporation.

The physical extension and/or construction of land uses. Development activities include subdivision of land; construction or alteration of structures, roads, utilities, and other facilities; installation of water and sewer systems; grading; deposit of refuse, debris, or fill; and clearing of vegetative cover.

Development Project
Any development resulting from the approval of a building permit, lot split, preliminary or final plat, rezoning application, grading permit, public or private infrastructure improvement, variance request, development review, master plan, native plant removal, relocation or revegetation, or use permit.

Development Regulation
Scottsdale's Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances and other regulations like Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance (ESLO), which regulate factors such as the type of land use, densities, height and bulk, landscaping, parking requirements, some elements of design, and standards for street layout and design.

Development Review
A process to administer regulations and guidelines for the design of buildings to ensure that they are suitable, harmonious, and in keeping with the general appearance, historic character, and/or style of the building and/or surrounding area. The process considers site and architectural design character and features of development for all development except single-family homes which is not permitted by the City Charter. This process is intended to provide for a basic standard of design quality throughout the community, establish character themes, see durability in physical development and seek the desired identity of the community. The Scottsdale Development Review Board oversees the development review process.

Development Review Board
Board made up of a City Council member, a Planning Commission member, and citizens, that oversees the development review process.

Development Site
A specific area within a development project, which is proposed for a specified zone, use, or density.

The business center of a city or town. In Scottsdale the Downtown is generally between Earll Road and Chaparral Road and 68th Street and Miller Road.

Downtown Plan
The General Plan adopted in 1984 for the Downtown to guide development and revitalization, provide consistent architectural guidelines and themes, and focus appropriate development to the Downtown area of the city.

Downtown Urban Design and Architectural Guidelines
1986 City Council approved document intended to provide a framework for the design of buildings and public spaces in Downtown Scottsdale.

Surface water runoff or the removal of surface water or groundwater from land by drains, grading, or other means, which include runoff controls to minimize erosion and sedimentation during and after construction or development.

See "Dwelling Unit"

Dwelling Unit (DU)
A house or apartment that is a separate and independent housekeeping unit, occupied or intended for occupancy by one household.




Early Notification
A procedure established to allow neighborhood associations, business groups, and affected residents to review project applications before they are scheduled for public hearings.

The right to use property owned by another for specific purposes, such as access to another piece of property, conveyance of stormwater, or transmission of utilities.

Economic Sector
A specific industry or group of inter-connected industries.

See "Environmental Impact Report or Statement"

See "Environmental Impact Report or Statement"

A component of the General Plan dealing with specific topics like open space or land use. State law requires each Plan to include fifteen elements, although the elements may be organized in a number of ways. Scottsdale's General Plan contains twelve elements that cover all of the topic areas required by State Statute.

Employment District
Relatively large areas of the city dominated by low-rise office, high technology, light industrial, and other job-generating land uses but containing relatively few retail and service uses.

Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or Statement (EIS)
An informational document that provides decision makers and the public with information about the effects a proposed project or other major private or governmental action is likely to have on the environment, ways these effects may be minimized, and alternatives to the proposed project.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Federal agency charged with protecting the environment.

Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance (ESLO)
A set of zoning regulations adopted by the City of Scottsdale in 1991 and revised in 2001 to guide future development in the desert and mountain areas of north Scottsdale. The ordinance has a variety of standards that are applied to ensure that new construction will be compatible with the natural beauty of the area. The ESLO took effect on March 21, 1991 and applies to approximately 134 square miles of Scottsdale north of the Central Arizona Project.

See "Environmental Protection Agency"

See "Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance"

Exposed/Shallow Bedrock
Bedrock which is exposed or which has irregular patches of soil cover that may vary in depth or location over time.

Major roadway with limited access to adjacent properties, devoted almost exclusively to traffic movement, mainly serves traffic moving through the city.




See "Federal Aviation Administration"

See "Floor Area Ratio"

Capable of being done, executed, or managed successfully considering physical, financial, scheduling and other constraints.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Federal agency responsible for air safety and regulation of air traffic.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Federal agency responsible for disaster response and assistance in post-disaster recovery.

See "Federal Emergency Management Agency"

Flood Control
Any of a number of structural or non-structural measures designed to divert or contain floodwater and prevent flooding.

Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)
The official map on which the Federal Insurance Administration has delineated areas of special flood hazard and the risk premium zones applicable to the community.

Floor Area Ratio
A measure of development density expressed as the amount of building floor area divided by the development site land area.

Flood Plain
The channel and the relatively flat area adjoining the channel of a natural stream or river which has been or may be covered by floodwater.

Fountain Hills Unified School District
One of the five special districts that provides public education to residents of Scottsdale and some outlying areas. Owns and operates elementary and secondary schools throughout the city.

Major roadway with controlled access devoted exclusively to traffic movement, mainly of a through or regional nature. Local examples include the Pima Freeway (101) and the Red Mountain Freeway (202).

The part of a lot that touches a road, street, or watercourse; it is often described as a specific amount, such as "60 feet of frontage".




A point along a roadway at which a motorist or pedestrian gains a sense of having entered the city or a particular part of the city. This impression can be imparted through such things as signs, monuments, landscaping, a change in development character, or a natural feature.

General Fund
Component of city budget generated by sales tax, property tax, utility tax, and other miscellaneous sources, and used to fund general city services and debt service.

General Plan
A collection of policies and plans, which provide a guide for decisions regarding the physical growth and evolution of the city. The General Plan provides a comprehensive, coordinated set of intents and directions for the physical development of the city, including but not limited to, land use, transportation, economic conditions, environment, infrastructure, public facilities and physical character. Scottsdale's General Plan is divided into chapters based on Six Guiding Principles formed through the citizen-driven CityShape 2020 process. It contains twelve elements.

General Plan Amendment
A formal City Council change or revision to the text or maps of the General Plan.
Per State Statutes (February 2000) a change or revision to the General Plan is considered a Major Amendment if it is "a substantial alteration of the municipality's land use mixture or balance as established in the Land Use Element." A Major Amendment requires a 2/3 majority vote of the City Council for approval. Major amendments may be heard at one City Council hearing per calendar year in the same year which they are initiated. Major amendments require two Planning Commission public hearings.

Geographic Information System (GIS)
A collection of computerized information organized by some geographic identifier like property lines, subdivisions, insurance zones, etc. and stored in a database.

Geologic Hazard
Any public safety hazard associated with geologic forces, including landslides, mudslides, rock slides, erosion, and sedimentation.

See "Geographic Information System"

(Target) Golf Course
A golf course which minimizes the use of turf, usually to tee boxes, target fairways, and greens, maintaining the native desert landscaping throughout the course.

Green Building Program
The Green Building Program is a voluntary building initiative for home builders and prospective home buyers in Scottsdale that are interested in environmentally compatible homes. The program encourages the use of environmentally responsible building in the desert environment by incorporating healthy, resource and energy efficient materials and methods in the design and construction of homes. The Green Building Program rates homes in six environmental impact areas: site use, building materials, solid waste, energy, indoor air quality, and water.

Water under the earth's surface, often confined to aquifers, capable of supplying wells and springs.

Groundwater Recharge
The process of infiltration and percolation of rainwater, or treated wastewater, from land areas or streams through permeable soils into water holding aquifers that provide underground storage.

Growing Smarter Act
1998 State Legislation that affected how cities and counties within the state conduct and administer long-range planning activities. This legislation required four new elements and expanded other elements; required additional public notification and involvement; established the requirement of 2/3 majority vote by City Council for Major Amendments; created a deadline for completion of General Plan updates of December 2001; and required that General Plans be readopted every 10 years.

Growing Smarter Plus
2000 State Legislation that revised some of the considerations of the Growing Smarter Act. Growing Smarter Plus required an additional new element, redefined major amendments to the General Plan, and required that General Plan adoptions be ratified by a public vote after City Council approval.

Growth Areas
Areas of the community that best accommodate future growth allowing an increased focus on creating or enhancing transportation systems and infrastructure coordinated with development activity.

Growth Management

Techniques used by the government to control the rate, amount, location, timing, and type of development.




The physical location or type of environment in which an organism or biological population lives or occurs.

Hazardous Material
A substance that could be harmful to people, animals, plants, and the environment, including pesticides, herbicides, poisons, toxic metals and chemicals, liquefied natural gas, explosives, volatile chemicals, and nuclear fuels.

High Density
A relative term, usually used to describe development dominated by multi-family housing, or areas of more than seventeen (17) dwelling units to an acre of land.

High Technology
An economic sector composed of a broad range of activities, including development and production of computers and office machines, communications equipment, semi-conductors and electronic components, aerospace and military vehicles, computer services, research and development laboratories, and scientific instruments.

Historic Preservation
The purpose of the Historic Preservation program is to safeguard the city's historic, aesthetic and cultural heritage, and to protect, enhance, and preserve improvements and landscape features of historic resources which represent distinctive elements of the city's cultural, educational, social, economic, political, architectural and archaeological history. The program promotes preservation of historically, archaeologically, architecturally, or culturally significant structures, features, and neighborhoods, often with the intent of restoring or rehabilitating the structures to their former condition. Through the HP District retention of historic resources is encouraged by keeping them in active use in their original appearance, setting, and placement.

Historic Preservation Commission
Commission appointed by the City Council to establish a process for identifying Scottsdale's historical, archaeological, and cultural resources, promote an awareness of them for future generations, and recommend programs to achieve community goals for their preservation and conservation.

Historic Preservation Ordinance
City of Scottsdale legislation establishing the framework for a local historic preservation program that will identify and designate special resources in the community, recognize and promote awareness of Scottsdale's history, and define policies for the preservation of significant historical, archaeological and cultural resources.

Historic Preservation Plan
A plan for the preservation of Historic Resources and Landmarks on the Scottsdale Historic Register.

Historic Property or Historic Resource
Any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, object, or landmark included in, or eligible for inclusion on, the National Register of Historic Places, the Arizona Register of Historic Places, or the Scottsdale Historic Register, including artifacts, records, and material remains related to such property or resource. Historic Resources include archaeological resources.

Historic Property District (HP District)
A zoning overlay district that applies to certain Historic Resources.

(Scottsdale) Historic Register
City-maintained list of historic and archaeological resources within the city which are designated HP District.

Household Hazardous Waste
Waste that is generated in the home that is toxic or hazardous to humans and the environment when discarded, including paint, motor oil, batteries, and household cleaning products.

Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
A cabinet level department of the federal government that administers housing and community development programs.

Human Services Commission (HRC)
City Council appointed commission consisting of seven citizens responsible for addressing a broad range of human service issues in the city.




Impervious Surface
Surface through which water cannot easily penetrate, such as a roof, road, sidewalk, or paved parking lot.

In the context of the General Plan, implementation is an action, procedure, program or technique that is the way General Plan policies are carried out.

Improvement District
A designated area of the city with specific boundaries that is assessed the costs of specific improvements, including: street paving, sidewalks, crosswalks, curbs, gutters, culverts, bridges, fire hydrants, sewers, power lines, water lines, and street lighting. The purposes for which improvement districts may be formed rests with the City Council and Arizona State Law. Improvement districts use bond funding and all improvements financed with ID bonds must ultimately be owned by the city and located within public easements or rights-of-way. An improvement district usually has a ten-year term and the property owners make semi-annual payments on the interest, and annual payments on the principal (billed directly from the city). There is a prepayment penalty if the bond is paid off at any time during the duration of the improvement district.

In-lieu Fee
Cash payments that may be required of an owner or developer as a substitute for dedication of land or physical improvements (for example, parking in the Downtown).

Development of individual vacant lots or "leftover" vacant properties within areas that are already developed and have access to urban services and infrastructure.

The process through which water travels from the ground surface through soil to the aquifer.

Public services and facilities, such as sewage disposal systems, water supply systems, other utility systems, streets and roads, parks, schools, etc.

The level or concentration of activity occurring on a site or in an area. Intensity is often used interchangeably with density.

Involving more than one city or county.




Joint Use Parking
Use of the same parking spaces by adjacent uses that have staggered peak periods of demand, thereby reducing the amount of land consumed by parking. Also known as "shared parking".




Land Assembly
Consolidation of separate adjacent parcels under one ownership in order to facilitate larger-scale developments. The City has a Neighborhood Assemblage policy to help guide land assemblage.

(Conceptual) Land Use Map
The diagram in the General Plan illustrating the general distribution and intensity of allowable development, and the location of existing and planned roads, public facilities and open space.

Land Use Definitions
Descriptions of each category contained in the Land Use Element that correspond to the categories on the Conceptual Land Use map.

Land Use Plan
A plan that graphically depicts existing and future land uses and intensities. It visually discerns land use compatibility and spatial relationships, establishes the physical form of the community and identifies urban design opportunities. A land use plan serves as a guide in the preparation of zoning ordinances and zoning district maps.

Land Slope
The ratio of the vertical rise in the land elevation over the horizontal dimension of the rise.

Legislative Decision Making
City Council decisions that involve making or recommending new policies or laws.

The balance of elements of the physical environment that contribute to the physical, social, economic, political, and emotional well-being of residents.

Live/Work/Play relationship
Land use relationships where the places that people live, are employed, and recreate are in close proximity to each other to reduce travel distances.

Local-serving Economic Services
Economic activities with a primarily local market, such as retail stores and personal services; contrasted to "basic" economic activities such as manufacturing and wholesale trade.

Local Streets
Roadway that provides access to adjacent properties in a neighborhood. Not intended for through traffic or heavy traffic loads.




Market-rate Housing
Housing that is offered for rent or sale at fair market value without any consideration of standards for determining affordability.

The average of a series of figures computed by adding up all the figures and dividing by the number of figures.

1) The paved or landscaped area on a roadway that separates traffic moving in opposite directions.
2) The point at which one-half of a set is greater and one-half is less, such as median income or median rent.

Small neighborhood park of approximately one-half to two acres.

To reduce or lessen, but not necessarily to eliminate.

To lessen the impacts of, alleviate, or avoid to the extent reasonably feasible.

Methods used to alleviate or lessen the impact of something.

Mixed Use
A development type in which complementary and integrated uses, such as office, retail, and residential, are combined in the same building or within separate buildings on the same site or nearby sites.

The ability to move from one place to another, or to transport goods or information from one place to another.

Capable of accommodating a variety of transportation modes, such as buses, automobiles, rapid transit, rail, bicycles, and pedestrians. A multi-modal transportation hub is a facility for the transfer of passenger or goods between different modes of transportation.

Multi-modal Transit Center
A location that provides connections between bus and rail transit modes and includes pick-up, drop-off and parking areas for cars, as well as bicycle related facilities.

Multi-Neighborhood Center
Retail shopping centers or districts that serve more than one neighborhood with a diverse mix of uses, including retail, service, office, and residential.



National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA)
Non-profit public service organization that advocates quality recreation and parks. Its objectives revolve around public advocacy, public visibility, research, and professional development.

National Register of Historic Places
The federal government's list of properties that have been identified as worthy of preservation; properties may be listed on the Register or may be identified as being "eligible" or "potentially eligible;" properties are usually listed in the National Register through nominations by the State Office of Historic Preservation.

Native Plants
Plants indigenous to an area or from a similar climate and requiring little or no supplemental irrigation once established.

Natural Landmarks
Prominent, unique terrain features which due to their character and location are considered landmarks for the city or for a local region within the city, for example Pinnacle Peak or the McDowell Mountains. Such landmarks may or may not be named features.

A part of the city defined by distinct characteristics that may include distinct ethnic or economic characteristics, housing types, schools, or boundaries defined by physical barriers such as major highways and railroads, or natural features, such as rivers. Neighborhoods are often self-defined by the residents or by homeowner associations in a neighborhood.

Neighborhood Beautification
Refers to any of a number of efforts or programs aimed at improving the visual quality of a neighborhood, including improved landscaping, signs, streets, painting, and building facades, as well as community clean-ups.

Neighborhood Center
A small retail center with a primary trade area limited to the immediately surrounding area. These centers are often anchored by a grocery or drug store and may include a variety of smaller retail shops and offices oriented to the everyday needs of surrounding residents. Also called "Neighborhood Shopping Center."

Neighborhood Park
Park of roughly two to ten acres in size, intended to meet the recreation needs of people living or working within a one-half mile radius.

Neighborhood Plan
A neighborhood plan is a guide that provides a framework for future decision making. It contains broad statements about what residents would like to have happen and principles they would like to see followed. It also contains recommendations for strategies on how to reach goals and generally represents the consensus of the neighborhood

Net Density
The number of housing units per acre of land, excluding public roads, natural watercourse and drainage easements, and other dedicated rights of way.

Any undesired audible sound, especially one that is loud or disagreeable.

Noise Compatibility
The relationship between land uses and ambient noise levels; for example, residential uses are considered to be less compatible with high noise environments than industrial uses.

Non-automobile Mode
Any mode of transportation that does not use private automobiles; includes bicycling, walking, buses, and other types of transit.

Non-conforming Use
A use that does not conform to the regulations that apply to a property. Sometimes a use becomes non-conforming when subsequent regulation changes what is allowed on the property. A non-conforming use, under these conditions may be "grandfathered" in or permitted to continue for a designated period of time, subject to certain restrictions.

Non-indigenous Landscaping
Landscaping that is not native to an area and typically requires more water than naturally occurring vegetation. Also called "exotic" or "non-native" landscaping.

Non-point Source
Sources of air or water pollution that enter the environment from dispersed sources, such as pollution tainted stormwater runoff from streets and parking areas, rather than at a single point, such as an industrial facility discharge pipe.

Not conducted or maintained for the purpose of making a profit.

Any of a broad category of land uses that do not contain housing; includes commercial, industrial, public, and institutional uses, among others.

Non-renewable Resource
Natural resources, such as fossil fuels and natural gas, which once used cannot be replaced and used again.



Not being in the period of maximum use. For traffic, this generally refers to the weekday periods before and after the morning and evening commute hours, typically 9 AM to 3 PM and 7 PM to 6 AM.

Off-street Parking
Parking that is provided outside of the right-of-way of a public street, typically in a surface parking lot or parking structure.

On-street Parking
Parking that is provided within the right-of-way of a public street, typically in designated parallel or diagonally striped spaces adjacent to moving traffic lanes.

100-year Flood Plain
The area subject to flooding during a storm that is expected to occur on the average of once every 100 years, based on historical data.

Open Space
Any parcel or area of water or land that is essentially unimproved and devoted to an open space use for the purpose of (1) the preservation of natural resources; (2) the managed production of resources; (3) outdoor recreation; or (4) public health and safety.
Desert Preservation Task Force definitions:
Meaningful Open Space: Open space which due to its size, function, visibility, accessibility and/or strategic location is a community amenity or resource. Open space which can be accessed or can be viewed by the public. Open space which serves to protect a significant ecological area. Meaningful Open Space is divided into three categories: accessible desert open space consisting of public use areas and public access areas; visual desert open space consisting of mountain and desert conservation areas, wash corridors and street setbacks; and desert character open space consisting of restored areas such as detention basins and drainage channels and improved areas such as parks and golf courses that have a desert character.
Natural Area Open Space: Areas of undisturbed natural desert with no man-made improvements and approved revegetated areas.
Developed Open Space: landscape areas, turf areas, parks, golf courses and other recreational facilities excluding any associated buildings.

(Common) Open Space
Land within or related to a development that is designed and intended for the common use or enjoyment of the residents, not individually owned or dedicated for public use.

A city adopted law or regulation.

Overlay Zone or District
A method used to apply provisions in a specific area, which supplement the standards of the underlying or base zoning. An overlay zone might restrict certain uses or allow higher densities than would be permitted in the same zone in other parts of the city. The Environmentally Sensitive Lands district is an overlay zoning district.




Paradise Valley Unified School District
One of the five special districts that provides public education to residents of Scottsdale and some outlying areas. Owns and operates elementary and secondary schools throughout the city.

A legally defined lot, or contiguous group of lots in single ownership or under single control, and considered a unit for purposes of development and open space calculation.

A tract of land, designated and used by the public for active and passive recreation.

Park and Ride Facility
A parking lot designed for drivers to leave their cars and use mass transit facilities beginning, terminating, or stopping at the park and ride facility.

Passive Recreation
Leisure activities that involve relatively inactive or less energetic activities, such as walking, nature walks, sitting, picnicking, card games, chess, checkers, and similar table games or simply enjoying the natural environment.

A paved, shared-use, pedestrian, equestrian, cyclist route or system.

A form of development that makes the street environment inviting for pedestrians. Commercial areas may be characterized by special sidewalk pavement, zero front and side yard setbacks, buildings of varied architectural styles, street-facing window displays, an absence of front yard parking, benches and other amenities. Residential areas may be characterized by sidewalks, parkways, front porches, low fences, lighting and other amenities.

Phoenix Union/Baltz Elementary School District
One of the five special districts that provides public education to residents of Scottsdale and some outlying areas. Owns and operates elementary and secondary schools throughout the city.

Planning Commission
Seven member commission responsible for reviewing and making recommendations to the City Council on proposals for development, the subdivision of land, amendments to zoning, land use studies, the annual Capital Improvement Program, the General Plan, and other development regulations.

Potable Water
Water that is suitable for drinking or cooking purposes.

Preliminary Plat
A conceptual plan for a proposed layout of lots, tracts, rights-of-way and easements in a proposed development.

Protected Ridgeline
A ridge identified by the city as being visually significant and important to the city's image and economy. Protected ridges are designated in the ESLO.

Public Art
Sculpture, painting, murals, and other forms of artwork that are placed in public spaces or in public view to enrich and add visual interest to the built environment.

Public Art Committee (PAC)
Committee of the Scottsdale Cultural Council responsible for advising the city in matters pertaining to the quality, quantity, scope, and style of art in public places, and for acquiring and siting permanent works of art, specifically outdoor sculpture.

Public Hearing
A meeting of a Board, Commission, or the City Council that has been announced and advertised in advance and is open to the public, with the public given an opportunity to talk and participate.

Public Notice
The advertisement of a public hearing in a newspaper of general circulation, and through other media sources indicating time, place, and nature of the public hearing and where the application and documents may be inspected.

Public/Private Partnership
A merging of public and private resources to achieve an end result or product that would be difficult to achieve through public or private activity alone. May refer to the delivery of services, such as child care or to the construction of buildings, such as cultural facilities.



To change the existing development in an area or on a property, sometimes by demolishing existing buildings, or to increasing the overall floor area existing on a property, or both, or by using infill development to rebuild on a vacant parcel. Sometimes this also involves a change in land use.

Renewable Resource
Natural resources, such as water and air, that can be reused or replaced by natural ecological cycles or sound management practices.

Restoring new life or vigor to an area, sometimes through public improvements that spark private investment.

Regional Center
A commercial activity center of citywide and regional significance, with a mix of shopping, offices, and some housing.

The addition to, or replenishing of, water in an aquifer.

Recreation Facility
A place designed and equipped for the conduct of sports and leisure-time activities.

The process by which waste products are collected, separated and reused or reduced to raw materials and transformed into new and often different products.

The upgrading of a building previously in a dilapidated or substandard condition.

Replacing vegetation in an area where vegetation has been removed for construction, or due to natural causes. The effort is made to revegetate to surrounding plant densities and species.

To change the zoning classification of particular lots or parcels of land.

A relatively narrow elevation which is prominent because of the steep angle at which it rises; an elongated crest, or series of crests, with or without individual peaks, significantly higher than the adjoining ground.

Right of Way
The strip of land over which certain transportation and/or other public facilities are built, including roads, railroads, and utility lines.

The Recommended Study Boundary of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, indicative of the land area the city desires to ultimately acquire through the Preservation Program.




Scale of Development
The relationship of a particular project or development, in terms of size, height, bulk, intensity, and aesthetics, to its surroundings.

Scenic Corridor
A major roadway which has been designated on the General Plan to have additional open space buffer in order to minimize the visual intrusion of adjacent development and maximize the unique character of different areas of the city.

Scottsdale Visioning
1990-1992 citizen-driven process that established Four Dominate Themes and 24 VisionTasks that define Scottsdale's character and future.

Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD)
One of the five special districts that provides public education to residents of Scottsdale and some outlying areas. Owns and operates elementary and secondary schools throughout the city.

Sense of Place
The characteristics of a location that make it readily recognizable as being unique and different from its surroundings and that provides a feeling of belonging to or being identified with that particular place.

Sensitive Design Guidelines
Program and documents aimed at strengthening the focus on design in the city organization, promoting coordination of the city's design-related efforts and resources, and facilitating discussion of design-related issues.

The distance between two points such as a property line and structure.

Any pipe or conduit used to collect and carry away sewage or stormwater runoff from the generating source to treatment plants or receiving streams.

Severely Constrained Area
Any land within the ESLO Hillside landform, which contains land slopes over 25%, unstable slopes, or special features, including any land that is surrounded by one of these conditions.

Sign Ordinance
A section of the city's legislation regulating the location and design of signs.

General term referring to public and private signs and their design attributes.

Single Family
A house intended for occupancy by one family that is structurally independent from any other dwelling unit.

Solid Waste
General category that includes organic wastes, paper products, metals, glass, plastics, cloth, brick, rock, soil, leather, rubber, yard wastes, and wood. Trash or garbage.

Special Flood Hazard Areas
As defined by Section 37-17 of Chapter 37 of the Scottsdale Revised Code (Floodways and Floodplains): areas having flood and/or flood related erosion hazards as shown on a Flood Hazard Boundary Map or Flood Insurance Rate Map as zone A, AO, A1-30, AE, A99, AH or E, and those areas identified as such by the Floodplain Administrator, delineated in accordance with Section 37-18(b) and adopted by the Floodplain Board.

Uncontrolled growth, usually of a low-density nature, in previously rural areas and some distance from existing development and infrastructure.

Street Furniture
Those features associated with a street that are intended to enhance the street's physical character and be used by pedestrians, such as benches, trash receptacles, kiosks, lights, and newspaper racks.

Street Trees
Trees planted in medians or along sidewalks in the public right-of-way that are intended to enhance the visual quality of a street, provide shade, absorb pollutants and noise, and provide habitat for urban wildlife.

The combination of individual design elements that give character to the street frontages of the city. Some examples of these elements are landscaping, street furniture, lighting, and sidewalk design. Streetscape design plays a major role in setting a standard of quality and innovation for other design issues.

Federal Superfund law created to provide funding and regulatory authority for the study and cleanup of contaminated sites throughout the United States. The EPA directs the cleanup of these sites. Scottsdale has one Superfund site - the North Indian Bend Wash site - where trace amounts of industrial chemicals were found in two Scottsdale drinking water wells in 1981. The affected wells were immediately shut down. The EPA identified the companies as potentially causing the contamination and determined that a long-term cleanup effort would be required.




Target Golf Course
A golf course which minimizes the use of turf, usually to tee boxes, target fairways, and greens, maintaining the native desert landscaping throughout the course.

A work arrangement for performing work electronically, where employees work at a location other than the primary work location, such as at home or in a subordinate office.

Traffic Calming
Measures that make permanent, physical changes to streets to slow traffic and/or reduce volumes; also can include education and enforcement measures to promote changes in driver behavior.

Traffic Demand Management
Strategies aimed at reducing the number of vehicle trips, shortening trip lengths, and changing the timing of trips out of peak hours. These strategies encourage the use of mass transit, car pools, van pools, bicycling, and walking and typically focus on the home-to-work commute. They also include efforts to provide housing close to jobs to shorten trip lengths. These strategies usually require the joint cooperation of developers, employers, and local governments.

(Computerized) Traffic Management System
A system in which traffic signals are timed with the aid of a computer to provide coordination, thus minimizing delays and ensuring that traffic flows as smoothly as possible.

A shared-use pedestrian, equestrian, cyclist route or system which is not paved.

Transit-Oriented/Pedestrian Friendly Development
Development that includes compact, mixed use development patterns with facilities and design that enhance the environment for pedestrians in terms of safety, walking distances, comfort, and the visual appeal of the surroundings and are usually focused around a major transit access point. The elements that support transit and pedestrian activity are generally the same.

A change from one development density to another or from a preserved area to a developed area.




Underground Utilities
The placement of electric, telephone, cable and other utilities customarily carried on poles in underground vaults or trenches.

Underutilized land/parcel
Land or parcels that are not being used to their full potential and could be redeveloped with a more economically productive use.

Use Permits
A process with general criteria to consider uses which may be compatible within a district but which may need special limitations in order to be considered appropriate for the area.




The major segments of the natural terrain which are visible above the natural vegetation from designated scenic viewpoints which are shown on the ESLO Special Features maps.

A shared dream of the future characterized by long-term idealistic thinking. Provides the foundation for the development of the goals, policies and programs. A vision is not a binding goal and may not be achievable in the lifetime of those participating in the drafting of the General Plan.

Vista Corridor
A major open space corridor which follows major watercourses or other features as identified on the General Plan and which protect major wildlife habitat, protect distant views, separate land uses, and provide links for trails and paths.




Usually a watercourse that flows during flood events or intermittently. Washes are important as wildlife corridors and habitat.

Wastewater Recycling
The practice of using highly treated effluent from a wastewater treatment plant for landscape irrigation and other non-potable purposes.

Water Resources
Term used to collectively describe groundwater (aquifers), surface water (bays, rivers, creeks, oceans, etc.), precipitation, and water supply.

A lake, river, creek, stream, wash, arroyo, or other channel over which water flows at least periodically. "Watercourse" includes specifically designated areas in which substantial flood damage may occur.




The practice of conserving water and energy through landscaping design that limits lawn areas, irrigates efficiently, improves soils, uses mulches, chooses low water use plants, and employs other good maintenance practices.




Zoning / Zoning Ordinance
Land use regulations enacted by the city to create districts or zones that establish permitted and special uses within those zones. Land uses in each district are regulated according to type, density, height, lot size, placement, building bulk, and other development standards. The ordinances include procedures for changing the status of land use and the physical development standards too.