Desert Foothills Character Area Plan

Desert FoothillsWhat Is It?

The Desert Foothills Character Area Plan sets forth the long-range vision for this area, including goals and strategies that seek to balance rural lifestyle with the unique and fragile upper Sonoran Desert. A separate companion document, the Desert Foothills Implementation Plan, includes methods that will illustrate how to attain this vision.

City Council adopted - June 1999

Where does it apply?

The Desert Foothills Character Area Plan includes approximately eight square miles, generally located between Dixileta Road to the north, Jomax Road to the south, the City's western boundary, and 96th Street to the east.

Desert Foothills Character Area Map (PDF)

Why was it developed? 

Desert Foothills Character Area Plan (PDF)

To promote or enhance the character of the Desert Foothills area by establishing development and design guidelines for maintaining the natural qualities of the upper desert, open space areas, and the rural lifestyle found in the area.

Key Points:

  1. Three Goals for the Desert Foothills area:
    • Preserve the natural, visual qualities of the lush upper desert by using desert-sensitive building techniques.
    • Promote connected areas of desert open spaces and trails.
    • Identify and celebrate the rural desert character of the Desert Foothills area.
  2. The Foothills Overlay zoning district was created as an implementation item from this Character Area Plan. In 2003, the zoning district was applied to the original Character Plan area as well as a half section of State Trust Lands.
  3. This area contains a fractured ownership pattern contributing to:
    • A rich assortment of custom and semi-custom homes.
    • A diversity in lifestyles from equestrian to those who moved here to enjoy a desert retreat, in a remote setting, within the city. 
    • Minimal infrastructure improvements due to the piecemeal development pattern.
  4. The area is approximately 60% built out, currently.
  5. A portion of the Desert Foothills Scenic Drive is located in this area.
  6. Site planning that minimizes the visual impact of development is encouraged. 
  7. There is a Local Area Infrastructure Plan (LAIP) for this area and the Trails Master Plan identifies neighborhood trails systems in accordance with the Character Area Plan.
  8. Open Space is critical to maintaining the rural desert character and should be provided as a visual, recreational, or character enhancing amenity.


Contact Information

City of Scottsdale – Long Range Planning
7447 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251 
P: 480-312-7000

Adam Yaron
Planning & Development Area Manager 
P: 480-312-2761

Taylor Reynolds
Principal Planner
P: 480-312-7924