Scarp: Cooperation can help protect a visual spectacle - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Scarp: Cooperation can help protect a visual spectacle

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Posted: Sunday, April 27, 2008 4:26 am | Updated: 10:48 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Those of us who are transplanted residents of this state each have particular memories of the first time we saw a particular sight that told us that we were really in Arizona.

This is not to take away from the awe-inspiring grandeur of Arizona’s natural wonders,but it doesn’t take a natural wonder to qualify.

Some of the most memorable combine nature’s and man’s handiwork.

For many of us, including myself, the cover photo of our imaginary autobiographies, “This Is My Life in Arizona,” is of the panorama seen from a curvy street on the south face of Camelback Mountain whose Spanish name, Valle Vista, means exactly that: Valley view.

You’d know this if you’ve ever driven carefully up 56th Street, then left on Wonderview Drive and then a slight bearing to the right up onto Valle Vista Road to soon take in one huge gulp of the Valley of the Sun with no observation-deck glass separating you from it.

I can feel the mountain breeze as I recall each time I’ve traveled up there, often with visiting relatives and friends who came along for a precious few moments to gaze upon our inland empire created from desert dust.

Recently people who live along this road, who paid very good money to be able to have similar viewings simply by walking out their doors, petitioned Phoenix to close Valle Vista to public automobiles by erecting gates accessible only by them or their designees.

From descriptions in neighbors’ statements filed with the city, there are people who don’t merely get out, look for a few minutes and then safely drive down. Some litter and destroy, deface the rocks, trespass on private property, have sex in cars. It’s an insult to this special place and those who live there.

And it seems as though neighbors’ decades-long proliferation of oleanders along the road’s edges to try to block the view and discourage visitors hasn’t been working well enough.

A Phoenix city hearing officer turned down the neighbors’ plans last week. These homeowners have until next Wednesday to appeal the matter to the City Council. Much as their frustrations are real, they shouldn’t.

The neighbors’ proposal’s allowing access to those on foot or by bicycle were a shallow concession. It’s a steep hike to get up to Valle Vista Road, and thus whatever view the oleanders allow would be denied older or infirm folks whose access would only be vehicular.

No one should have to put up with the intrusions the neighbors have suffered. The city must better police this popular spot and arrest lawbreakers.

But just as it’s true that a property owner has no legal right to own or control a view, neither does a property owner have the right to deny access to a public street paid for by taxpayers.

All of us — neighbor and visitor — need to value this special place in our Valley more than we apparently have.

Contact Tribune columnist/editorial writer Mark J. Scarp at (480) 970-2351 or

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