Oro Valley, Arizona
|Oro Valley, Arizona|
View of Pusch Ridge in the Santa Catalina Mountains from Oro Valley. September 2004.
|Nickname(s): The OV|
Location in Pima County and the state of Arizona
|• Mayor||Satish Hiremath|
|• Total||35.6 sq mi (92. km2)|
|• Land||35.5 sq mi (91.9 km2)|
|• Water||.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)|
|Elevation||2,620 ft (798.57 m)|
|• Estimate (2013)||41,627|
|• Density||1,025.0/sq mi (464.8/km2)|
|Time zone||MST (no DST) (UTC-7)|
|ZIP codes||85704, 85737, 85742, 85755|
Oro Valley, incorporated in 1974, is a suburban town located 6 miles (9.7 km) north of Tucson, Arizona, United States in Pima County. According to the 2010 census, the population of the town is 41,011, an increase from 29,700 in 2000 census. Dubbed the "Upscale Tech Mecca" of Southern Arizona by the Arizona Daily Star newspaper, Oro Valley is home to over 10 high tech firms and has a median household income nearly 50% higher than the U.S. median. The town is located approximately 110 miles (180 km) southeast of the state capital of Phoenix.
Oro Valley is situated in the western foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains at the base of Pusch Ridge. The Tortolita Mountains are located north of the town, and vistas of the Tucson valley are to the south. The town occupies the middle Cañada del Oro Valley. Oro Valley hosts a large number of residents from around the US who maintain second or winter homes in the town.
In March 2008, Fortune Small Business magazine named Oro Valley #44 on its list of "100 Best Places to Live and Launch" a business. The August 2008 issue of Family Circle magazine featured Oro Valley as one of the top ten best towns for families in America. Money magazine reported Oro Valley was one of the best places to live in 2007 and 2008. Nick Jr. Family Magazine rated Oro Valley as one of the "Ten Most Playful Towns in America" in 2004. The magazine used criteria such as schools performing in the top third of their states, favorable student-teacher ratios, general safety, library programs, and access to arts and recreation activities. In 2005, Oro Valley was named one of "America's Top-Rated Smaller Cities" in the publication by Grey House Publishing. The publication specifically noted the excellence of Oro Valley's schools, medical facilities, and golf courses. According to FBI statistics, in 2006 Oro Valley ranked #1 in the State of Arizona for the lowest levels of both violent crime and property crime, among cities with populations of 5,000+. It was also ranked #1 every year from 2001 through 2005 in either category or both.
The town hosted the 2006 Pac-10 Women's Golf Championships at the Oro Valley Country Club. Oro Valley Country Club was also the site for the 2006 Girl's Junior America's Cup, a major amateur golf tournament for the Western United States Annual events in Oro Valley include the Oro Valley Festival of the Arts, El Tour de Tucson bicycle race, the Tucson Marathon, the Cactus Speed Classic for inline skaters, and the Arizona Distance Classic.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Climate
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Economy
- 6 Law and government
- 7 Education
- 8 Sites of interest
- 9 Media
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Pre-U.S. annexation period
The area of Oro Valley has been inhabited discontinuously for nearly two thousand years by various groups of people. The Native American Hohokam tribe lived in the Honeybee Village in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains on Oro Valley's far north side around 500 AD. Hohokam artifacts continue to be discovered in the Honeybee Village that the Hohokam inhabited continuously for nearly 700 years, and studied by archaeologists around the globe.
Early in the 16th century, Native American tribes known as the Apache arrived in the southern Arizona area, including Oro Valley. These tribes inhabited the region only a few decades prior to the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors, including Francisco Coronado. The Spanish established forts in the area, including the Presidio at Tucson (1775) beginning in the late 16th century.
Arizona Territorial period
Beginning in the 19th century, Americans increasingly settled in the Arizona Territory, following the Mexican-American War and the subsequent Gadsden Purchase including Southern Arizona. George Pusch, a German immigrant, settled in the area of Oro Valley in 1874, establishing a cattle ranch. This ranch was unique because it utilized a steam pump to provide water, eventually popularizing Pusch's property as the Steam Pump Ranch on the Cañada del Oro. The steam pump was one of only two in the Arizona Territory.
Gold rushers into the American West also were attracted to southern Arizona, where gold was said to be in abundance in and around the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson. Fueled by the legend of the lost Iron Door Gold Mine in the mountains, those in search of gold trekked through the Oro Valley area focusing their attention along the Cañada del Oro washbed.
Post-World War II period
After World War II, the Tucson area experienced dramatic population growth, impacting Oro Valley as well. In the early 1950s the Oro Valley Country Club opened at the base of Pusch Ridge, affirming the area's future as an affluent community. Although one tract housing development was built in the area in the early 1950s, the majority of homes in the Oro Valley area were built by individual land owners on large lots in a low density residential style.
Founding of the town
The community continued to grow gradually, and area residents increasingly desired local control of the land in the area. In the late 1960s, incorporation became a greater focus in Oro Valley. Tucson Mayor James M. Corbett, Jr. expressed great interest in expanding the Tucson city limits to the far north side of Pima County. Corbett vowed to bring the Oro Valley area into Tucson "kicking and screaming," alluding to the reservations Oro Valley residents expressed in joining Tucson.
A petition to incorporate began circulation in Oro Valley in 1968. The Pima County Board of Supervisors officially refused to allow Oro Valley to incorporate, and litigation followed. Ultimately, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in favor of incorporation, and in 1974 the Town of Oro Valley was incorporated with only 2.4 square miles (6.2 km2). The original town limits included the Linda Vista Citrus Tracts, Campo Bello Estates, Shadow Mountain Estates, and Oro Valley Country Club Estates. Activity in Oro Valley centered primarily around the Oro Valley Country Club and Canyon del Oro High School. While originally referred to as Palo Verde, town founders proceeded with incorporation efforts with the official name of Oro Valley to garner support from influential residents of Oro Valley Country Club. The Town began with a population of nearly 1,200.
Through the 1980s and particularly in the 1990s Oro Valley experienced significant residential and commercial growth. In 1990 the town had a population of 6,670, and by 2000 that figure had increased to 29,700 residents. During that time, residential communities of all housing-unit densities were developed in the town, including several master-planned communities. For several years in the 1990s Oro Valley was the fastest growing municipality in Arizona.
Current state of the town
Formed by citizens of Oro Valley, the not-for-profit Oro Valley Historical Society has a mission in "preserving the Town's heritage for future generations." Additional information can be found on the Society's website.
Oro Valley is located at  Oro Valley sits at an average elevation of 2,620 feet (800 m) above sea level.(32.4212, -110.9760) in the middle Cañada del Oro Valley.
According to the United States Census Bureau (2000), the town has a total area of 31.9 square miles (83 km2), of which, 31.8 square miles (82 km2) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) of it (0.31%) is water.
The topography of Oro Valley is distinguished by the Cañada del Oro riverbed bisecting the town. The eastern banks of the Cañada del Oro rise dramatically to the Santa Catalina Mountains. The western banks of the Cañada del Oro rise more gradually to a plateau and the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains farther north.
Notable geographic features include:
- Pusch Ridge (peak elevation: 5,361 ft.) & Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area
- Santa Catalina Mountains (peak elevation: 9,157 ft.)
- Cañada del Oro
- Tortolita Mountains (peak elevation: 4,652 ft.)
Major parks in Oro Valley include the oldest, James D. Kriegh Park (formerly Dennis Weaver Park) with an Olympic-sized swimming pool, recreational fields, and racquetball courts. The Cañada del Oro Riverfront Park features tennis and basketball courts, recreational fields, walking trails, and connections to equestrian trails along the Cañada del Oro wash. West Lambert Lane Park in Cañada Hills is a nature park with a number of hiking trails.
The Naranja Town Site is also in the planning phase, and will ultimately be the largest recreational park in Southern Arizona. The site plans include a performing arts center, aquatics center, recreational fields, tennis, basketball, tether ball, and volleyball courts, canine center, BMX and skate park. However, plans for this park have been put on hold due to the defeat of the bond issue in the November 2008 election.
Linda Vista Trail, located east of Oracle Road on Linda Vista Drive, south of 1st Avenue, is a quiet, secluded, well-maintained nature trail that provides excellent views of Oro Valley, Pusch Ridge, and the surrounding vicinity.
La Cholla Airpark (FAA 57AZ), a private airport community, is also in northwestern Oro Valley. La Cholla Airpark was founded in 1972 and includes nearly 100 residential estates. A 4,500-foot (1,400 m) air strip is situated at the center of the community for member use.
Oro Valley has very similar weather conditions as Tucson, Arizona due to how close they are to one another. However, there are small differences. Oro Valley sees slightly less rain throughout the year due to being west of the Santa Catalina Mountains and most of Tucson being south or southwest. The general temperature of Oro Valley is slightly cooler than Tucson year round due to the higher elevation. Wind tends to flow in a north, northwest direction and the sun rises later than Tucson due to the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Oro Valley was the fifth fastest-growing place among all cities and towns in Arizona of any size from 1990 and 2000. Oro Valley is also one of 18 towns, cities, and census-designated places in Arizona with a per capita income over $30,000 USD, and one of 12 with a median household income over $60,000 USD.
As of the census of 2000, there were 29,700 people, 12,249 households, and 9,382 families residing in the town. The population density was 933.1 people per square mile (360.3/km²). There were 13,946 housing units at an average density of 438.2 per square mile (169.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 93.10% White, 1.06% Black or African American, 0.41% Native American, 1.92% Asian, 0.12% Pacific Islander, 1.83% from other races, and 1.56% from two or more races. 7.47% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 12,249 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.8% were married couples living together, 4.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.4% were non-families. 19.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.41 and the average family size was 2.76.
In the town the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 27.7% from 45 to 64, and 22.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.
According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the town was $74,015, and the median income for a family was $80,807. Males had a median income of $55,522 versus $31,517 for females. The per capita income for the town was $31,134. 3.1% of the population and 2.4% of families were below the poverty line. 2.0% of those under the age of 18 and 2.2% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
Oro Valley is emerging as a regional center for the biotech industry. Innovation Park is the high-tech center of Oro Valley, featuring a number of medical and biotech campuses. Primary employers in Oro Valley include:
- Sanofi-Aventis: The world’s third largest pharmaceutical company finished construction on a new 110,350-square-foot (10,252 m2) facility in Innovation Park in 2009.
- Ventana Medical Systems: The 182,000-square-foot (16,900 m2) international headquarters for the company are in Innovation Park. In 2008, Ventana was purchased by Roche Pharmaceuticals.
- Integrated Biomolecule Corporation: IBC is a drug development and analytical chemistry services company, which also engages in the research, development, and synthesis of organic compounds. Their facility is located in Innovation Park.
- Northwest Medical Center - Oro Valley: The 220,000-square-foot (20,000 m2) hospital, along with a 70,000-square-foot (6,500 m2) medical office building in Innovation Park opened in 2008.
- Honeywell: Honeywell is the producer of electronic control systems and automation equipment. (The Honeywell facility is actually in unincorporated Pima County, completely surrounded by the town of Oro Valley.)
Oro Valley does not levy a local property tax. Commercial property is assessed at 25% of fair market value, while residential property is assessed at 10% of fair market value.
Golf and resorts
The economy of Oro Valley is also fueled by the resort industry. Oro Valley features several resorts and country clubs, including:
Oro Valley supports an emerging arts scene and community.
Each winter, Musical Magic for Kids is held at the Oro Valley Town Hall, along with multiple string quartet and choral performances throughout the town.
Every April, the Oro Valley Festival of the Arts is held celebrating all forms of art and artistic expression. Live musical performances are held throughout the spring in the open-air amphitheater at Cañada del Oro Riverfront Park.
The annual Independence Day celebration is one of the largest events in Oro Valley. The Tucson Symphony Orchestra performs, along with several choirs. Fireworks shows and concerts are also provided by the Hilton El Conquistador Resort.
Public art is exhibited throughout the year at the Oro Valley Hospital in Rancho Vistoso. A number of sculptures, murals, and statues of public art are featured throughout Oro Valley.
Law and government
The Town of Oro Valley employs the council-manager form of municipal government. Oro Valley is administered by the seven-member Town Council. The Town Council oversees all issues pertaining to Oro Valley, including residential and commercial development and natural preservation.
Oro Valley residents elect all seven members of the Town Council, including a directly elected Mayor. The Vice Mayor is appointed by the Council from amongst its elected Councilmembers. The Mayor and Vice Mayor have no special powers and duties beyond chairing meetings, but rather serve as rank and file council members.
- Mayor: Mr. Satish I. Hiremath, D.D.S.(term expires June 2014)
- Vice Mayor: Mr. Lou Waters (term expires June 2014)
The remaining members of the Oro Valley Town Council include:
- Mr. Brendan Burns (term expires May 2016)
- Mr. William Garner (term expires May 2016)
- Mr. Joe Hornat (term expires June 2014)
- Mrs. Mary Snider (term expires June 2014)
- Mr. Mike Zinkin (term expires May 2016)
The Town Manager is Mr. Greg Caton, who is the third chief administrator of the town in less than four years. The Town Manager’s office provides executive-level leadership for the community by planning and directing Town services. Communications, including Constituent Services, and Economic Development, are under the Town Manager's Department.
The Interim Town Attorney, Mr. Tobin Sidles, is appointed by the Mayor and Council to act as the chief legal advisor to the Mayor and Council, Boards and Commissions, the Town Manager and all Town Departments.
The Town Magistrate is the Honorable George A. Dunscomb.
The primary law enforcement in the town is the Oro Valley Police Department, headed by Chief of Police Daniel G. Sharp. As of 2010, the OVPD employed 98 sworn police officers, or 2.30 officers per 1,000 citizens. The OVPD has a significant reputation in the greater Tucson area for strict enforcement of traffic laws, to the extent that many locals believe a vehicle will be stopped for going 1 mph over the speed limit. In 2006, Oro Valley ranked #1 in the State of Arizona for the lowest levels of both violent crime and property crime, among cities with populations of 5,000+. It was also ranked #1 every year from 2001 through 2006 in either category or both. The OVPD has received national recognition for being one of only a few communities in the country where police officers are present at every public school  The OVPD holds many community events on a monthly basis, such as the Dispose-A-Med program where citizens can dispose of unused or expired prescription medications, the Shred-A-Thon where citizens can securely dispose of sensitive documents and records, Digital Child Identification which provides parents with a "biographical docket" of their child's information, the Citizen's Police Academy to increase the public knowledge of the Oro Valley Police Department, and the Darkhouse program where homeowners can request that police members check their vacant residences while they are out of town.
The Oro Valley Citizen Corps Council, appointed by the Mayor, is also a task force involved in community public safety.
Public schools in Oro Valley are administered by Amphitheater Public Schools of Tucson. Oro Valley is served by four elementary schools, two K-8 schools, one middle school, and three high schools (Canyon del Oro High School, Ironwood Ridge High School) and the new BASIS Oro Valley. In 2007, Newsweek Magazine rated both Canyon del Oro and Ironwood Ridge in the top 5% of public schools in the U.S., two of only 12 schools in Arizona included on the list. Tucson’s BASIS Charter School made Newsweek's list of the top ten public high schools in the nation. BASIS, which ranked sixth on the 2010 list, also made the list in 2009, when it ranked fifth, and in 2008, when it was ranked first in the nation. BASIS was the top-ranked Arizona school this year.
Public schools serving Oro Valley include:
|Oro Valley Country Club||
|Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort||
|Hilton El Conquistador Country Club in Cañada Hills||
|The Golf Club at Vistoso||
|Sun City Vistoso Golf Club||
|The Stone Canyon Golf Club||
|New resort planned for Stone Canyon||
|Omni Tucson National Golf Resort & Spa (near Oro Valley)||
|Westward Look Resort (near Oro Valley)||
|The Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa (near Oro Valley)||
|Canyon del Oro High School||
|Ironwood Ridge High School||
|Richard B. Wilson K-8 School||
|Coronado K-8 School||
|L.W. Cross Middle School||
|Copper Creek Elementary School||
|Painted Sky Elementary School||
|Mesa Verde Elementary School||
|Winifred Harelson Elementary School||
Sites of interest
- Steam Pump Ranch: Located in the heart of Oro Valley, the Steam Pump Ranch dates back to the mid-1870s when George Pusch settled in the area. Pusch was an Arizona state legislator and delegate to the original Arizona Constitutional Convention in 1910. The ranch is in the process of being preserved by the town and includes several original buildings from the ranch itself. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in September 2009.
- Catalina State Park: Located on N. Oracle Road (AZ State Hwy. 77). Catalina State Park has a number of hiking and backpacking trails, including Romero Ruin Trail, Nature Trail, Romero Canyon Trail, Sutherland Trail, Canyon Loop Trail, 50-Year Trail, Birding Trail, and the Bridle Trail. Specific trails are also open to equestrians. Certain trails also connect with other trails in the Coronado National Forest, continuing to Mount Lemmon, the highest peak in the Santa Catalina Mountains at 9,157 feet (2,791 m). The park also features several campgrounds and an equestrian center.
- Immaculate Heart Preparatory School: The school is in the former mansion of Margaret Howard, the Countess of Suffolk from the United Kingdom. Built in 1937 as her winter residence, the estate is situated in the Suffolk Hills neighborhood of Oro Valley.
- Honey Bee Village: The Native American Hohokam people occupied a small community in the foothills of the Tortolita Mountains beginning around 500 AD, and the remaining ruins are preserved by the town at the original site on Oro Valley's far north side.
- Bell House: The private estate was completed in the early 1940s for the family of Alexander Graham Bell, widely recognized as the foremost inventor of the telephone. Located just south of Oro Valley, the estate affords expansive views of the Tucson valley to the south. Still privately owned by the Bell family, the estate is closed to the public.
- Romero Ranch: The ruins of the large Romero Ranch are in Catalina State Park east of Oro Valley. Established in 1844 by Francisco Romero, Romero Ranch was one of the first cattle ranches near the Santa Catalina Mountains.
- Canyon del Oro High School: Construction began on the school in the early 1960s before much of the area was developed. Located in south Oro Valley and directly adjacent to Pusch Ridge, CDO is an established community center for the town.
- Oro Valley Public Library: Located in the heart of Oro Valley, on the golf course, with views of Pusch Ridge.
Oro Valley is served by the following publications:
Tucson Citizen: was an afternoon daily paper. The Tucson Citizen was the oldest continuously published newspaper in Arizona, established in 1870 as the "Arizona Citizen". It was owned by Gannett but has since ceased publication as of late August 2009.
The Explorer: a free, weekly newspaper covering Northwest Tucson, Oro Valley, Marana and the communities of Catalina Foothills, Tortolita, Catalina and Oracle. The Explorer covers many aspects of suburban Tucson life, including high-school sports and performances, cultural events, features, and stories of political interest.
Tucson Weekly: an alternative publication that is distributed free at numerous locations around the greater Tucson area.
Oro Valley is also served by the following television networks: KVOA 4 (NBC), KGUN 9 (ABC), KOLD 13 (CBS), KMSB 11 (Fox), KTTU 18 (UPN), and KWBA 58 (WB). KUAT 6 is a PBS affiliate run by the University of Arizona.
- "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-07-06.
- "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2014-07-06.
- Quick Facts
- Weiss, Michael J. "10 Best Towns for Families: 2008"
- "Best Places to Live: Money's list of America's best small cities"
- "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
- Troop 294 in Oro Valley Arizona
- United States Census Bureau. "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved July 6, 2014.
- Home | Northwest Medical Center Oro Valley
- "KVOA Reports on the resignation of David Andrews: September 23, 2009". KVOA. 27 Sep 2009. Retrieved 6 Sep 2011.
- "Area high schools snag top honors" (broken link)
- "National Register of Historic Places Listings: September 18, 2009". National Park Service. 19 Sep 2009. Retrieved 1 Oct 2009.
- EXPLORER News