Working with buyers in the North Scottsdale area, we often hear that a “must have” criterion for their new home is an adjacent wash or open desert space for the purpose of views, a feeling of space and lower density, and to simply enjoy the natural beauty of the Sonoran Desert.

So, imagine you have found the perfect home with views from most of the rooms, with one exception.  Trees in the open space behind your home are obstructing your views from the breakfast bar.  Your question before you buy is, “can I trim back the trees?

If the wash or open space is considered “Natural Area Open Space” (NAOS) the answer is a simple and resounding, “no.”

The City of Scottsdale has required developers to set aside a portion of a subdivision for providing open space for desert terrain and vegetation to remain in it’s natural state.  NAOS is an easement on the deed of the property and no grading, filling, clearing or excavation of any kind is permitted on the easement.  If the property has been designated NAOS, you cannot trim back the trees.

Typically the responsibility for maintenance of NAOS on neighborhood property is the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) itself. But even the HOA cannot trim back trees or remove plants; the maintenance is limited to the removal of man-made debris, wash obstructions, invasive plants, and the removal of parasitic plant growth only as it relates to the health of the host plant.

If a recent storm has downed a saguaro, it may not be removed, as it will serve as a future home for quail and other wildlife.  The only exception is if it is determined to be a public health or safety concern.

But you wouldn’t want to violate the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Ordinance (ESLO) because these open areas add value to your home and community.  A home that backs to NAOS is a sought after amenity in North Scottsdale creating privacy and personal enjoyment of the Sonoran Desert flora.  Homes that are adjacent to NAOS typically sell for a premium compared to homes that do not.

So share your expectations with your Realtor when it comes to the open space around the home that you are interested in. Your Scottsdale real estate experts can assist you in checking the subdivision plat or the Schedule B of the title report to see if the area is in fact Natural Area Open Space.

The Matheson Team is a group of experienced Scottsdale real estate agents who specialize in the North Scottsdale market. If you are moving to Scottsdale, contact us to learn more about the area.

Don Matheson
Realtor | Founder
The Matheson Team – RE/MAX Fine Properties
21000 N. Pima Rd., #100, Scottsdale, AZ 85255