In the 1880′s, the Rio Verde Canal Company devised a plan to develop the desert land west of Scottsdale into an agricultural region. According to Will Barnes, author of Arizona Place Names (University of Arizona Press, 1997), the area was named in 1899 by Frank Conkey, Manager of the Rio Verde Canal Company. When the promoters of the canal project first observed this extensive valley in the early spring, covered with flowers and Palo Verde trees in full blossom, they stated, “This is Paradise Valley.” Over time, small ranches and resorts were built in the area. In 1961, the Town of Paradise Valley was incorporated, in an effort to prevent annexation by Phoenix and Scottsdale. Today, Paradise Valley can be described as a town dotted with private acre-sized lots, upscale resorts, stunning vegetation, breathtaking landscapes, and relatively few businesses. Residents take pride in having an extremely high standard of living. To support Paradise Valley’s exemplary quality of life, the Town has instituted strict zoning restrictions preventing excessive development in the Town. As the rest of the Phoenix metropolitan area experiences issues with urban sprawl, Paradise Valley maintains its established prominence. In the General Plan, the Town Council has developed a Vision for the Future based on core values of its residents. Among these is development of a roadway network that serves community residents, without facilitating “through travel.” In addition, the Town will pursue continual upgrading of the infrastructure to serve residents and improve quality of life.
Paradise Valley is exclusively zoned for single-family residential utilization. A vast majority of the Town is zoned for one-acre minimum lots, allowing one house per lot. Because multiple housing units are not permitted, there are no patio homes, condominiums, or apartments within the city limits. As a result of Paradise Valley’s General Plan, any commercial development is required to be authorized by a Special Use Permit. This permit may only be approved after public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Town Council. Religious institutions, posh resorts, medical clinics, equestrian facilities, golf courses, and private schools are granted Special Use permits. The majority of new home projects are constructed by custom homebuilders. To retain the residential character of the Town, few businesses are granted licenses to operate within the city limits. Property values are consistently among the highest in the state and country.
The Town of Paradise Valley is located 9 miles northeast of downtown Phoenix. Paradise Valley lies between Phoenix and Scottsdale, with Camelback Mountain and Mummy Mountain towering above the Town. It covers approximately 16 square miles and sits at an elevation of 1,421 feet. The median household income in Paradise Valley is triple that of surrounding cities, and property values here reiterate this statistic. The Town also boasts the largest percentage of college graduates in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Top executives, physicians, and surgeons make up 25% of Paradise Valley’s employed adults. Population growth is apparent but increasing steadily. Children attend excelling public schools in the Scottsdale Unified School District. The Paradise Valley Unified School District actually encompasses an area north of the Town of Paradise Valley. Many children in Paradise Valley attend prestigious private schools located in the Town, such as Kachina Country Day School, Camelback Desert School, and Tesseract School. Crime is virtually nonexistent in Paradise Valley.
Due to the Town’s strict zoning policies, entertainment and shopping within the city limits are limited. However, the Town’s close proximity to Phoenix and Scottsdale allows for various entertainment and shopping venues nearby. Paradise Valley offers a range of community facilities for its residents. For its residents’ enjoyment, the Town offers two libraries, sixteen community parks, eight theaters, two swimming pools, eight golf courses, and numerous tennis courts and playing fields. Situated on the west side of Paradise Valley are the Phoenix Mountain Preserves, including Piestewa Peak (formerly “Squaw Peak”) and Dreamy Draw Recreational Area. Visitors enjoy moderate trails for hiking and mountain biking, picnic areas, and organized hikes guided by park rangers. Located in the southern area of Paradise Valley is Camelback Mountain and Echo Canyon Recreational Area. At the top of Echo Canyon, hikers and climbers enjoy spectacular views of the vast valley. As a caution, only skilled, experienced climbers should attempt this feat, as it comprises the most rugged climbing terrain in the area. For more guarded lovers of the outdoors, the Paradise Valley Scenic drive offers paralleled views in the comfort of an automobile.
Because Paradise Valley is primarily a residential municipality with few businesses, community activities are limited to small events held by private organizations and fundraising efforts conducted by individuals and groups. Some festivals in nearby cities include ‘Paradise Valley” in their names, although they do not actually take place in Paradise Valley. Local cultural attractions with small community events include Temple Beth Israel, and Cosanti Originals, Inc.
Paradise Valley is situated in the Sonoran Desert. It is in an “arid zone” and receives approximately 8 inches of precipitation annually. April, May, and June typically receive the least amount of rain. On average, the remaining months receive slightly less than one inch of rain per month. The desert sunny climate has an average summer high temperature of 106 degrees and a winter low temperature of 44 degrees.
Due in part to the Town’s strict zoning restrictions concerning commercial development; local businesses are comprised mainly of high-end hotel resorts and golf courses. The largest and most well known resorts include Marriott Mountain Shadows Resort, Hermosa Inn, Doubletree Hotel La Posada Resort, and Millennium Resort McCormick Ranch. Other notable commercial ventures consist of Paradise Valley Racquet Club, Paradise Valley Country Club, Camelback Country Club Golf Course, and Mummy Mountain Observatory.
Arizona’s elite society lives in Paradise Valley. From the multimillion-dollar estates to upscale resorts and country clubs, it is evident that residents here originate from the upper echelon of civilization. The Town’s populace enjoys a quality of life unmatched anywhere in the state. A drive through the Town’s neighborhoods and scenic drives elicits admiration at the serene beauty of the area. Stunning architecture and beautifully landscaped grounds accentuate the mountains and desert milieu found here. Neighborhoods are not cluttered with businesses and strip malls, and the Town has taken measures to prevent an influx of commerce into their beautiful town. There are few places on earth that are as appropriately named as “Paradise Valley.”