We had the good fortune of connecting with Gary Kirkilas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gary, how does your business help the community?
We are witnessing a huge housing boom here in Arizona. Over 200 people move to metro Phoenix every single day. While this is great for our economy we are slowly chipping out what makes Arizona unique, our beautiful deserts. For every new suburb that pops up means less desert for us to enjoy. Soon our major metropolitan areas like Phoenix and Tuscon will resemble the suburban sprawl of Los Angeles and less like the Arizona we know and love. This presents a real challenge; building homes for those that wish to live here but also retaining our unique desert charm.
The Save Our Sonoran Preserve (SOS-P) group has been standing up for smart and sustainable home development projects that respect and retain our unique desert charm since 2018. We serve as a knowledgeable, polite, and compassionate voice for our unique deserts and the Arizonans who enjoy them. SOS-P advocates at the local and state levels to maintain the protective zoning measures that guide home developments in a responsible way. Through our organized efforts we have already brought public attention to a large home development project seeking to remove environmental protective zoning laws. We sincerely believe that home developers can build AND respect the desert for a win-win!
What should our readers know about your business?
The Save Our Sonoran Preserve group is a collection of citizens who advocate for smart and sustainable development near the Sonoran Preserve. Arizonans really love our deserts, it’s what makes us so unique! Building up this group acutally occurred very rapidly. We intially had no idea so many people were passionate about keeping our unique desert character. We quickly went from a group of 20 or so members to now we are over 1,200 members! We know there is a challenge to create homes but maintan some public open space. We feel our approach is balanced and fair. Build homes but respect current zoning ordinances. Our biggest challange thus far has been dismissing the idea that we are anti-development. We understand and anticipate homes will be built (and are necessary). Our messaging has been to build homes in a sustainable way that respects our unique desert environment .
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would bring them to the Sonoran Preserve (obviously) in northwest Phoenix. There are a million places in the country to see cities but the Sonoran Desert only exists in a few states (Arizona and California). A dawn or dusk hike at the Apache Wash trailhead is great way to begin or end your day. Plus its a short distance from metro Phoenix so it can occur in combination with a night on the town.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I always loved the story of the city planner Daniel Burnham and how his vision of keeping the Chicago lakefront as public open land. People will always need homes but something truly great happens when developers set aside land in its natural state for public enjoyment. If you look at any major city, where is the biggest draw? Most often it’s public open places. New York City has Central Park, Chicago has the lake front. Phoenix has it’s mountain preserves. Daniel Burnham inspires me to continue to advocate for more public land as it benefits everyone!