Save Our Sonoran Preserve

Click here to sign the Save Our Sonoran Preserve petition 

UPDATE July 7, 2022:

On July 1st, the Phoenix City Council approved changes to the Desert Character Overlay District. However, Save Our Sonoran Preserve won several key concessions:

  • The number of housing units were reduced from 1460 to 1250.
  • Homes on the eastern and northern border (adjacent to the Preserve boundary) were limited to a single story to protect the views when of Preserve hikers and other visitors
  • The buffer along the eastern border was doubled from 25 feet to 50 feet.
  • Walls facing the Preserve were changed to a barrier style view-fencing to allow openings for regular passage of wildlife and reduced in height from 6 to 5 feet.
  • A total of 16 acres were donated to the Preserve.

Previously, the City had required the developer to contribute $12 – 16 million toward Sonoran Desert Drive improvements to accommodate the substantial increase in traffic volume due to their home development.

Thanks to the nearly 2,000 area residents who signed the petition, Councilman Waring has become more supportive of our efforts which we are immensely grateful for.

Save Our Sonoran Preserve chair Gary Kirkilas will be asking Councilman Waring to serve in an advisory capacity for the Sonoran Desert Drive build out. Among the measures we’ll be pushing for are 1.) safer bike lanes, such as those either physically separated from traffic flow or a double white line for extra space from vehicles 2.) Traffic slowing measures like round-a-bouts, speed bumps or slower speed limits.

If you would like to be involved in this regard, please contact Save Our Sonoran Preserve chair Gary Kirkilas at or (708) 369-4566 as we will be forming a Sonoran Desert Drive Advisory sub-committee.

The following aerial shows the location of all 1,198 voters who have signed the petition thus far. We anticipate that hundreds more will sign in the coming weeks.  

Nearly all of our petition signers explained why they felt keeping the Desert Character Overlay District intact was vital to safeguarding the Sonoran Preserve.  Their reasons can be viewed at:

Saving The Sonoran Desert Preserve

Our beloved Sonoran Desert Preserve is threatened by a massive development and a proposal to lift vital safeguards.  Pictured below is the Sonoran Desert Preserve.  The red area is the location of development proposed for the Verdin site adjoining the Sonoran Desert Preserve.

At issue is a proposal to double or triple the number of housing units that can be built on the Verdin site.  Development in this area is guided by the Desert Character Overlay District which allows growth but with a number of measures to safeguard those Sonoran Desert Preserve values we treasure.  The Overlay District covers the areas shown in the map below.  The Desert Character Overlay District regulations are available at:

The Verdin development company has asked the Phoenix City Council to ignore the Desert Character Overlay District.  If granted, Sonoran Desert Drive traffic volume could go from 8,300- to more than 20,000-trips/day from this one development.  Other potential growth along this corridor could raise Sonoran Desert Drive traffic to nearly 50,000 trips/day or more!

Sonoran Desert Drive traffic volume is already at a point where additional bike safety measures are needed.  While there are proposals to add these measures, there is a point where traffic volume becomes so great that cycling or just walking is no longer enjoyable.

Doubling to tripling the number of nearby homes would detract from the true wilderness essence of the Preserve.  Additionally, abandoning the Desert Character Overlay District is like turning our back on the beloved Sonoran Desert Preserve – eliminating the protections that were thoughtfully placed to maintain the uniqueness and beauty as well as ensure maximum conservation of the incredible ecosystems while allowing a reasonable amount of development.

It is for these reasons that we ask you to sign the Save Our Sonoran Preserve petition urging Jim Waring and other Phoenix City Council members to require that Verdin and other development fully comply with the Desert Character Overlay District safeguards.  

For further information contact Save Our Sonoran Preserve chair Dr. Gary Kirkilas at or (708) 369-4566.