Green Valley, Arizona, is an unincorporated, census designated population (CDP) located 25 miles south of Tucson, Arizona, and 40 miles north of Nogales, Arizona. The major transportation corridor, Interstate-19, which joins Tucson and Nogales in Arizona and Mexico, is destined to become one of the focal points for a commercial corridor planned by Sun Corridor, Inc.
According to the US Census Bureau, the Green Valley CDP has a total area of 26.3 square miles. However, the majority of the residents are dispersed along a 10-mile-long ribbon, running parallel to I-19 and the Santa Cruz River Valley. It is flanked by the soaring Santa Rita Mountains on the East and the reclaimed talus slopes of the copper mines on the West.
The Land–The Santa Cruz River Valley is what puts the “Green” in Green Valley. Despite the fact that it is dry most of the year, the trees, shrubs, and plants going along the edges of this major are “green” most of the year. Towering over Green Valley is the tallest peak in the Santa Ritas, Mt. Wrightson at 9,453 feet (2,881 m). This peak is one of the tallest in southern Arizona and at such an elevation is often covered by snow in the winter months. The Coronado National Forest encompasses most of the mountain range, which contains Madera Canyon, an important birding area, and Smithsonian Institution’s Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins.
The Santa Rita Mountains run north-south for 26 miles and at the higher elevations pine-oak woodlands prevail. At the lower elevations diverse cacti grow in the Arizona Sonoran Desert, an arid area that is uniquely southwestern and found nowhere else in the world. The tall Saguaros are the icons of this environment. All kinds of animals flourish in this diverse setting, and hikers are apt to encounter many of them as they trek through Green Valley and its adjoining mountains.
Arizona is one of the most geologically interesting states in the country, and income from industrial mining is a major economic activity. For example, the Green Valley area is also the site of some of the most important copper deposits in southern Arizona. Mined since the late 1800s, commercial mining began in earnest in the 1960s. Since then billions of tons of copper ore has been extracted from the area. Because of the slump in copper prices, however, size of the operations have reduced significantly. The Green Valley Council’s Environmental Committee monitors the mining activities to keep the community informed about issues that affect the residents. The photograph shows the reclaimed talus slopes from mining, west of Green Valley.
The Culture–Mining ghost towns figure into the culture history of southern Arizona for a short period of time. For most of the time, the past 10,000 years and more, the area was inhabited by archaic hunters and gatherers for which the desert, surprisingly enough, furnished abundant resources. In order to harvest these resources, these people had to practice a nomadic way of life, moving from mountains to valleys and from water sources to arid lands. When the first explorers arrived, they found peoples along the river valleys in southern Arizona who were also engaged in horticulture and farming. Today these people are known as the Akimel O’odham (the river people, aka Pima) and the Tohono O’odham (the desert people aka Papago). Native Americans who moved up into southwestern Arizona, such as the Yaqui, did so at a later time, after the Spanish Entrada.
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The area of Green Valley is rich in archaeological and historical sites, and the literature on the culture of southern Arizona is vast. Archaeologists have written the prehistory of the area, and historians who study the writings of early chroniclers start with the Spanish military and religious explorers in the late 1400s and 1500s. The geopolitical boundaries of the US and Mexico did not attain their current status until 1912. So for about the first 500 years, the relations between US and Mexican peoples were not marked by politics but instead by lifestyles, which changed over time, from exploration to farming and mining, and finally to ranching and industry. Today, there are archaeological sites which tell the story of Native Americans; mission ruins and restored heritage sites that tell the story of the Jesuits and Franciscans; and ghost towns and ranches that tell the story of the miners and cowboys.
Because Green Valley is an unincorporated, geographically defined area of Pima County, Green Valley is governed by Pima County. We are safeguarded by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department. We are subject to Pima County’s Planning Department decisions on our growth and zoning as well as the decisions of Pima County Departments on other governmental actions. However, Green Valley’s fire protection is provided by the Green Valley Fire District.
Because Green Valley is not self governing, the early residents quickly realized that they, as individuals or individual HOAs, had no clout with Pima County. As a remedy, in 1973 they formed a unique organization The Green Valley Council, a nonprofit organization whose all-volunteer members include HOAs and local businesses. In 1989, Pima County recognized the Green Valley Council as the official Voice of the Community. The Council acts as the catalyst in bringing Green Valley’s issues to Pima County. The Council meets with various Pima County Departments on a regular basis and advocates for Green Valley’s concerns. The Council provides the “clout” that the early residents knew they needed!
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Pima County Government
The Green Valley Council has worked long and hard to provide health and transportation services to the community. The previous community plan had identified the need for health care in Green Valley. By 2014, Green Valley had opened a brand new Green Valley Hospital and several urgent care centers. The plan also cited the need for public transportation. The Green Valley Council and Green Valley Recreation identified free local services, public transportation, medical transportation providers and taxi/limo services in a brochure entitled “Need a Ride?” that is dated January 15, 2015. The Sun Shuttle provides local neighborhood transportation at designated stops and curb-to-cub services in certain areas of Green Valley and Sahuarita. It also connects with the larger Tucson Regional Transportation Plan Sun Tran bus system, augmented by Sun Link (the Tucson streetcar), Sun Express (express bus routes), Sun Van (van transport), Sun Connect (circulator routes) and Sun RideShare (ride share programs).
Preferred Vendors–The Green Valley Council has implemented a Preferred Vendor Program. This website database lists vendors in a number of business categories. These vendors have been vetted for licenses, insurance, BBB ratings, and references.
Living in the desert presents unique personal safety issues. High SPF sunscreen and your personal water bottle should become your best friends, especially in the hotter months. People not used to living in the desert underestimate how fast you can dehydrate in our dry heat. You should learn about our critters—we have poisonous snakes, large centipedes that bite, scorpions and venomous spiders, including the “big boys” —tarantulas. We also have javalinas which, with their big tusks, look like wild boars but are not part of the swine family. Javalinas are vegetarians and may well invade your flower beds and plantings at night for a meal. If cornered or if they fear for their young ones, the large javalinas might attack so be wary of nighttime walks. Javalinas also see dogs as their enemy and will attack them. If you are out walking your dog in the early hours of the morning or after twilight, be careful and retreat immediately to your house with your dog if you see, hear or smell the presence of a javalina (they stink). Our scorpions are nocturnal so watch where you put your feet. Most homeowners here use commercial pest prevention companies or spray their homes themselves to keep our critters outside where they belong.
Green Valley is part of the “dark skies zone” because of the many observatories nearby. We have few street lights and they must shed their lig
ht downwards. The outdoor lights on our homes are also down-lit. A strong pencil flashlight is handy if you go out in the evenings, even in a retail parking area.
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Personal and Home Safety
While our community has a very low crime rate, the best practice is to lock up your house and your vehicles. Also be careful about the vendors you hire to groom your garden, clean your house or provide other home based services. Check their BBB status and also check with the GVC Preferred Vendor Program which has credential and performance checked vendors of a
variety of services.
The Green Valley Fire District provides multiple services for Green Valley residents to help them be safe. In addition to fire suppression and the EMT’s who respond to emergencies, it employes Nurse Practitioners who can come to your home and provide care, such as stitches if needed, wound and burn care, hydration therapy, minor orthopedic injuries, infections and other nonemergency but urgent health issues. Your insurance may pay for these services. The Fire District, together with its Fire Corps of volunteers (named best Fire Corps in the U.S in 2012) also provide: smoke alarm battery changing; chirping smoke alarm replacement; residential lock boxes; and, snake/gila monster removal.
Our Sheriff’s Department and its Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers provide not only crime response but also: training and education on avoiding financial scams, something prevalent in Green Valley; education on how to protect your home and property; house checks for those out of town for more than a week; patrol of neighborhoods and businesses; Neighborhood Watch support; Fingerprinting for volunteers (required by many volunteer organizations), employment, or education; traffic control; the Citizen Care Program and welfare checks; and, free safety and security evaluations of your home. As your health changes, regular safety and security evaluations of your home become more important.
Green Valley is a community of volunteers. The Green Valley Council is composed entirely of volunteers. Many public service organizations in Green Valley are run by volunteers, for example the Sheriff’s Auxiliary Volunteers and Neighborhood Watch. If you wish to volunteer, the Green Valley | Sahuarita Volunteer Clearinghouse website lists many areas where you can make a difference.
Green Valley is also a community with over 300 local clubs and organization, including HOAs, fraternal orders, social and church groups, and many more. The Green Valley News and Sahuarita Sun publishes directory listing annually. Green Valley Recreation also sponsors a variety of special-interest clubs, as well as a number of entertainment venues.
Educational courses are available in Green Valley, offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, University of Arizona.
Whether you like dining, hiking, touring by bike or car, visiting natural or historic parks, or just being “on-the-go,” Green Valley and its southern surrounds offer a wealth of opportunities. A list of Chamber of Commerce sites for Green Valley and nearby towns will get you started on your way.
The latest census data for Green Valley, in 2010, estimated the population of Green Valley at a little over 21,000. The majority of the residents are retired and live in Homeowners Associations (HOAs), numbering around 100. Approximately seventy-five percent (75%) of these associations are members of the Green Valley Council.
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What is an HOA?
A homeowners’ association (HOA) is an organization to which all of the owners of lots or units in a planned community belong. The HOA is created by a declaration recorded in the public records of the appropriate governmental unit. The HOA’s purpose is to own, manage, maintain or improve the property within the planned community that does not belong to the individual homeowners. You are automatically a member of the HOA when you purchase a home, lot or unit in the planned community. You cannot “opt out” of the HOA and must pay the dues and assessments the HOA requires. The HOA has three critical documents: (a) the “Articles of Incorporation” for the HOA, which establishes the HOA as a legal entity; (b) the “Bylaws,” which are the governing documents of the HOA and set out the procedures for electing a Board of Directors and other internal operations of the HOA; and (c) the “Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions” (the CC&Rs), the enabling document which is recorded with the county recorder and empowers the HOA to control many aspects of how the property in the HOA is used and developed. When you buy a home in an HOA, you are agreeing to conform to the CC&Rs (whether you know it or not), and the HOA can enforce the terms of the CC&Rs in the same way as any other contractual agreement is enforced.
Buying a Home in an HOA
First, decide if an HOA is for you. If an HOA is not for you, firmly let your realtor know that viewing HOA homes is a waste of your time. Second, if you decide an HOA is for you, determine what kinds of limitations you don’t want and tell your realtor so she/he can determine in advance which HOAs aren’t for you. Third, while house hunting ask questions about the specific HOAs that have homes on your “might buy” list and, if that HOA has a website, review it to find out more about the neighborhood in which you might live. Get a copy of the Seller’s Notice of HOA Information and read it before you enter into a Purchase Contract. Also, make your purchase of the home contingent on your approval of the Bylaws and CC&RS. You are legally entitled to a copy of these documents after you have a Purchase Contract in place.
Read the Bylaws and CC&Rs carefully to see if there is some provision you cannot live with!
Don’t think that you will be able to either persuade the HOA Board to make any exception to its CC&RS just for you or that you will be able to do something the CC&RS prohibit without any consequences.
Selling a Home in an HOA
If your HOA has a website, make sure it is listed on your realtor’s description of your house so that prospective buyers can find out more about your HOA. If your HOA’s website is outdated, ask that your Board have it updated as a selling tool for your HOA. It is your duty to provide a prospective buyer with a Seller’s Notice of HOA Information before a Purchase Contract is entered into. Your realtor should have copies of this form available for your HOA. The Seller’s Notice includes information about the HOA’s dues, assessments, and management, including contact information. Even if your Realtor or your HOA’s Management Company prepares the Seller’s Notice, check it carefully because you are the one responsible if there are omissions or mistakes. It is also your duty to provide your buyer with copies of the HOA important documents, particularly the CC&Rs, before closing.