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Hardship Exemptions

On April 20, 2004, the Scottsdale City Council adopted the third set of revisions to the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Overlay District (ESL 2004), which became effective May 21, 2004. As a part of these revisions, a procedure was established that allows property owners to apply for a hardship exemption from the requirements of this newest version of ESL (refer to Section 6.1022.D).

D. Hardship/exemption provisions - Upon an application by a property owner claiming that the application of an ESL amendment causes hardship, City Council may allow a property to develop, under a previously adopted requirement of ESL, upon findings that:
  1. A substantial hardship is demonstrated that would significantly reduce the ability to use a parcel (s).
  2. The exemption will be consistent with the intent and purpose of the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance, and
  3. The application of the new ESL standards would not achieve significant benefit for the protection of the environment and the community.

Hardship Exemption

Approval Process

Hardship Exemption
Application Form 


Hardship Exemption Cases


ESLO Versions

ESL 2004
Effective 05-21-04 

ESL 2003
Effective 05-01-03 

ESL 2002
Effective 01-31-02 

ESL 1991
Adopted in 1991 

If an applicant can demonstrate to the City Council that a hardship is created by the requirement to comply with the new regulations and that relatively little impact will occur from the exemption, then they may be allowed to follow specific regulations of an earlier version of the ESL. Under no circumstances will an exemption be allowed where the property owner’s proposal does not comply with that standard in a previously adopted version of the ESL.  

For more information on the ESL Hardship Exemption process and procedures, call the Current Planning Department at 480-312-7000 or e-mail planninginfo@scottsdaleaz.gov .