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Did You Know – What unincorporated, Title 33 means for Sun City West     


by Marion Mosley, community relations chair

In my previous article, I described an overview of how Sun City West and the Recreation Centers work. In this article we will be able to see the particulars behind the operations and how they compare to a city. 

For those who recently graduated from the Recreation Centers’ latest TORCH class, this may seem redundant. However, let’s think of it as a refresher or reminder so that when people ask you the question, hopefully it will be easier to explain.

As I mentioned in the previous article, Sun City West is an unincorporated, non-profit, active adult community. The community follows all state and federal laws, but specifically operates under Arizona Revised Statutes Title 10 and Title 33. We’ll pass on these formal definitions for now, but keep in mind that they dictate what meetings and information can or cannot be public information. 

Sun City West was established as a community that is governed by Maricopa County.  It is not a city, but a community. Let’s review the differences.

We are an “unincorporated community”

  • A “census designated place”
  • No city/local government
  • Closest local government is Maricopa County
  • Typical municipal services are spread out through many organizations, some of which are non-profit


  • RCSCW ≠ Sun City West
  • PORA ≠ Sun City West
  • Maricopa County ≠ Sun City West
  • Sun City West = 29,000 residents + RCSCW + PORA + Prides + Posse + Community Fund + Foundation + …

What is a City?

A city is made up of many entities:

  • Public Safety
  • Roads & Traffic
  • Transportation
  • Social Services
  • Parks & Recreation
  • CC&Rs
  • Businesses

All of these functions are served by the city and city council. Compare these to Sun City West and we can see that each organization within our community is separately controlled. The most significant differences are that the Association is required to manage and operate all the recreation facilities and enforce CC&Rs within our community. PORA has the responsibility to serve as the community’s liaison for legislative activities, and to monitor and manage CC&R complaints up to a certain level before they go to the Rec Centers. By signing a facilities use agreement when they move here, homeowners living in Sun City West agree to pay annual dues that the Association deems necessary to operate and maintain facilities.

Because of the amount of information necessary to understand how our entire community works, it will be necessary to create part III to this series of articles.  Until that time, feel free to contact me with your questions and comments (, or wait until the next release is published. By then, all should be clear how our community works. Until next time, please stay tuned.

  1. It’s such great information. I know there were homeowners a few years ago wanted to get incorporated to their own city. The way that this management company PORA, manages this community, it’s astonishing!

  2. Having been a City Manager, I am aware of the differences. Being Unincorporated is better then being a City. Many more problems as a City, including taxes, having a City Council, having our own Police Dept. and the added exposure from an Insurance standpoint. Our General Manager and the Board are doing a great job. Pay your dues and be happy with one of the best Adult communities in the country.

  3. Jim Krause says:

    Thanks for the great articles informing us on our community being unincorporated instead of a city.

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