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City of Apache Junction Partner Community 
2017-18

City of Apache Junction
Partner Community
2017-18

City of Apache Junction
Partner Community
2017-18

Apache Junction Logo

City of Apache Junction

Nestled at the foot of the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction is strategically positioned as the eastern gateway into the Greater Phoenix metro area (Valley of the Sun) and the western entry to the Tonto National Forest’s recreation venues. The surrounding geography and western atmosphere draw more than half a million visitors through the city annually. From the mysterious stories of hidden treasures to the people who follow them, Apache Junction is surrounded by legends.

Apache Junction Projects

Transitioning Mobile Home/RV Parks

Alamo CanyonAs a popular destination for winter visitors, Apache Junction has one-hundred twenty-five Mobile Home and Recreational Vehicle Parks and Subdivisions within the city limits. Construction on some of the parks dates back to the 1950s with park construction and design standards varying over the years. Therefore designs, amenities, and conditions vary from park to park. Many older parks are now run down or deteriorating and detrimental to Apache Junction’s image. However, many of the older parks are an affordable option for low-income residents. The city presently has limited regulatory tools that set minimum standards for park maintenance. The purpose of the project is to determine a future path for some of the more blighted parks in the city without reducing the affordable housing stock in the city.

Masters capstone students researched and proposed recommendations for strategies to improve living conditions and safety for residents of these parks. Solutions focus on defining minimum standards and enforceable codes, possible zoning code changes that would allow redevelopment options that include a variety of housing types, and the feasibility of redeveloping/converting a hypothetical pilot project(s) to an alternative affordable residential development.

Classes Involved:

View transitioning mobile home/RV parks student poster
View Spring 2019 project presentations

New Municipal Revenue Sources for Apache Junction

Revenue SourcesRetail sales taxes are the primary source of revenue for the City of Apache Junction. The city has seen a slow but steady increase in sales tax revenues but a decline in state transportation funds. Additionally, the potential incorporation of San Tan Valley could impact state-shared revenue. With the growth of online retail and the rapidly changing landscape of brick and mortar retail, the city wants to examine these implications on tax revenues in the city. The slow pace of economic growth, resident’s resistance to property taxes, and high current retail tax rate pose limits on existing and new revenue streams. While the city has little if any debt service, city expenses in the form of employee benefits, maintenance, and infrastructure costs have also been increasing more rapidly than revenues.

This project’s purpose is to examine existing revenue sources and seek out new revenue streams that do not depend on retail sales or property taxes to keep pace with increasing costs. Students will look at peer communities’ innovative revenue structures, fee schedules, and other opportunities for revenue generation and make recommendations for adoption by the city.

Classes Involved:


Sustainability Planning

Sustainability PlanningAs a fairly young city, Apache Junction has not had the staff time or resources to examine its future-especially through the lens of sustainability. The primary source of future thinking at the City of Apache Junction has been through General Plan updates, developed every 10 years as mandated by the State of Arizona. The city is interested in what it can do to promote a more sustainable future in the next general plan update. Apache Junction was particularly interested in exploring this topic through the STAR Communities framework.

For this project students conducted a sustainability assessment of the city to determine what assets and opportunities could be leveraged for a more sustainable future. Students then proposed specific sustainability recommendations and language for the city’s next General Plan Update.

Classes Involved:

  • PUP 548 Planning for Sustainable Communities with , Spring 2018:
    Students developed a report with multiple chapters covering various themes of sustainable communities. Where data were available, students also calculated the STAR Communities Leading Indicators related to each of the themes.


View sustainability planning student poster

Off-Leash Dog Park Site Analysis

Dog on leashIn 2008 the city approved the master plan for an off-leash facility as Phase Four to the city’s existing Prospector Park. A complete set of construction working drawings for the off-leash facility were completed and approved in 2009. Unfortunately, funding for the Phase One off-leash facility did not make it into the budget the following year. A master plan for Silly Mountain Park was also developed and approved by the City in 2008. A major component of that effort was a 4.5 acre dog park, which was included in response to citizen interest during public hearings related to the park. With both proposed dog parks are over 4 acres in size, projected costs for Prospector and Silly Mountain Park are in the millions. To stretch budgets, a 2015 effort by city staff was made to consider lower cost, alternative sites. As a result, a conceptual off-leash dog park plan was developed in an area that the city currently maintains for Pinal County. The estimated cost of a dog park on this site is around $650,000. Though initial discussions have been started with county and city leadership, ideas have not yet been presented to elected officials or the community, and the City is still searching for alternative off-leash sites.

  • LDE 361-590 Landscape Design with Kenneth Brooks and Kevin Kellogg, Fall 2017:
    Students created a land use map and recommendations for the City, with particular attention to the needs of each project.
  • PAF 509 Public Affairs Capstone with Malcom Goggin, Fall 2017:
    Students undertook policy research, assessments, and analysis related to each project.


Positively Apache Junction

Apache Junction PresentationIn years past, Apache Junction residents have seen and heard many stereotypes about their community. Stereotypes have confused and discouraged visitors from spending time and money in the city. In an effort to counteract negative perceptions and inform visitors about Apache Junction’s positive attributes, substantial tourism marketing efforts began in 2009 with the implementation of the Downtown Revitalization and Implementation Strategy (DRIS). One recommendation in the DRIS was to create original branding to identify the downtown area as unique within the city. Another part of the strategy was the development of the downtownaj.com website for updates on the progress of the DRIS, which is being transformed into visitaj.com. Though visitaj.com was originally envisioned as a tool to entice visitors to the burgeoning downtown it has not come to fruition. City staff received new directions and budget appropriations, to begin a partnership with the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT). The partnership allows the city to explore new advertising opportunities with AOT over the past four years. Through this partnership, a multi-channel approach has been taken that includes both print and digital platforms. Even so, work remains to be done on reversing negative perceptions.

This highly multi-faceted project was broken into several component parts, engaging multiple classes across both the Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 semesters. In Fall 2017, one group of students produced a Sustainable Tourism Plan, while another conducted a city website assessment and compiled recommendations. A third group of students developed a variety of land use plans and landscaping designs. Spring 2018 students focused on the community’s history and culture. One group of students uses online GIS mapping tools to locate physical and cultural assets inside, and adjacent to city limits. Another group of students engaged with city residents to expose historical cultural context through theatrical performances based on local history and resident’s stories.

Classes Involved:

  • LDE 361-590 Landscape Design and HAD 320 Design & Art Corps with Kenneth Brooks, Kevin Kellogg, and Stephani Etheridge Woodson, Fall 2017:
    Students created a land use map and recommendations for the City, with particular attention to the needs of each project.
  • TDM 372 Tourism Planning with Evan Jordan, Fall 2017:
    Students developed a Sustainable Tourism Plan for the City.
  • TWC 544 User Experience with Tatiana Batova, Fall 2017:
    Students reviewed the City’s website for ease of access, applicable information, and recommendations for improving content and layout.
  • HST 485 History in the Wild with Joshua MacFadyen, Fall 2017:
    Students produced a series of 8 local histories and published them in an online blog format.
    Read the original student content for HST 485
  • THP 514 Projects/Community Based Theatre with Stephani Etheridge Woodson, Fall 2017:
    Students worked with local residents to tell stories related to the history of Apache Junction; the students then used live performances as a laboratory to develop and present these place-based stories.
    Read the original student content for THP 514




View the Positively Apache Junction Part 2 student poster

Sustainability & Solid Waste

 Day of ServiceApache Junction is home to the Apache Junction Landfill Corporation’s landfill (a subsidiary of Allied Waste/Republic Services), which offers very low disposal fees to residents. Subscribing to solid waste collection or recycling is not mandated by the city in Apache Junction, and there is no official municipal waste management entity (rather, there are multiple private options). City residents are allowed to bring one pickup truck load of solid waste for free to the landfill, four times a year, and at all other times, the dump rate is only $8.00 per ton. This system creates numerous waste management issues, including high rates of illegal dumping and littering, as well as significant inefficiencies that result from multiple private services running the same routes.

Students researched other communities and waste management strategies, to develop several potential solutions for Apache Junction’s waste management systems. Students compiled recommendations for policies and management practices that could help resolve some of the city’s waste management challenges.

Classes Involved:

  • ERM 432/532 Sustainable Solid Waste Management with Albert Brown, Fall 2017:
    Students analyzed incoming complaints registered by residents related to the City’s solid waste services and proposed research-backed solutions.
  • LDE 361-590 Landscape Design with Kenneth Brooks and Kevin Kellogg, Fall 2017:
    Students created a land use map and recommendations for the City, with particular attention to the needs of each project.
  • PAF 509 Public Affairs Capstone with Malcom Goggin, Fall 2017:
    Students pursued a variety of research topics, assessments, and analyses related to each project.


Understanding Homelessness

Program MountainThe City of Apache Junction perceives the rapid increase in homelessness, and illegal activities by homeless people are a growing concern. The Chronic Homeless Committee was established to take a look at the homeless situation and create solutions. In March 2017, the committee held a brainstorming session on ideas for addressing the situation. The city struggles with identifying real concerns versus perceived issues, identifying best practices used by communities similar to Apache Junction, providing effective cross boundary services, and establishing a unified voice among elected officials, management, staff, law enforcement, the business community, and the public.

Classes Involved:

  • LDE 361-590 Landscape Design with Kenneth Brooks and Kevin Kellogg, Fall 2017:
    Students will create a land use map and recommendations for the City, with particular attention to the needs of each project.
  • PAF 509 Public Affairs Capstone with Malcom Goggin, Fall 2017:
    Students pursued a variety of research topics, assessments, and analyses related to each project.
  • PUP 571 Socio-Economic Planning with Deirdre Pfeiffer: Fall 2017
    Students will assess the homelessness situation in Apache Junction, relative to the services, boundaries, and scope compared with similar cities.


Land Use Planning

Land QuadrantsThe City of Apache Junction was very recently incorporated (1978), and is still in the process of forming its identity and long-term growth strategy. Landscape architecture can help with this, help to stimulate the economy, and improve the quality of life for residents. Apache Junction staff are interested in exploring how concepts such as biomimicry, urban forestry, and transportation oriented design can help.

For this project, students conducted field work to inventory the natural and human characteristics of Apache Junction. Using this information, students focused on how landscape architecture elements can help to stimulate the economy and improve quality of life for Apache Junction residents. Students provided design renderings for multiple sites across the community, and insights on how design elements can complement the city’s natural beauty and help build a sense of community.

Classes Involved:

Read the Fall 2017 Land Use Planning Final Report
View Fall 2017 Semester Project Presentations

Apache Junction in the News

ASU students, faculty recognized for outstanding work in planning | ASU Now, September 19, 2019 | ASU Project Cities student receives AZ Planning Association’s Outstanding Student Project Award for her work with Apache Junction

| The State Press, February 11, 2019 | Project Cities recognizes past community partners, while looking forward to new partnerships for 2019-20 academic year

| Arizona State University’s Sustainable Cities Network, August 29, 2017 |New Project Cities program launches with its first community partner, the City of Apache Junction