Sellwood Moreland Improvement League

June 2020 SMILE Newsletter

SMILE -- "The Neighbor"


No in-person meetings per “social distancing”; ZOOMing allowed


In accordance with the directives of the Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, SMILE cancelled all of its in-person public meetings, including its General Meeting on the first Wednesday evening of each month, and the Board Meeting on the third Wednesday evening of each month from March 16 until further notice, to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. When these restrictions eventually are relaxed, SMILE will restart these in-person meetings. In the meantime, Simon Fulford, current SMILE Vice President and now Acting President, began offering the Sellwood-Westmoreland community virtual “online” meetings, via “ZOOM”, beginning at the end of April, within the rules governing the operations of 501c3 nonprofit organizations. SMILE online meetings take place at the same time and on the same date as usual, are always open to all SMILE members – that is, everyone who lives in Sellwood or Westmoreland, or works there, or owns property there. To attend, simply e-mail your request to Simon Fulford at: He will reply with a link for you to click to enter the meeting at the listed time, on the scheduled date, using your computer. The SMILE General Meeting in June will take place 7:30-9 p.m. on Wednesday evening, June 3, and the SMILE Board Meeting, also always open to the public, will be 7:30-9 p.m. on Wednesday evening, June 17. Stay in touch with SMILE at its general website during this time –  – then contact Priyesh Krishnan at  for more details.



SMILE annual Board Election is still pending


The yearly SMILE Board Elections, always scheduled for the General Meeting in May on the first Wednesday evening of the month, were delayed by the lack of a May General Meeting, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. Now that SMILE meetings have resumed online, the SMILE Board on May 20 appointed an Elections Committee to recruit candidates, investigate safe voting options, and plan the delayed election.  We expect to hold the Board Election this summer, as soon as details are worked out. In the meantime, please consider throwing your hat in the ring. Interested? Check out the SMILE website for more details about the Board and plans for the election – – and then contact Simon Fulford, Acting SMILE President, at



Sellwood and Westmoreland adopt “Main Street Design Guidelines”

On May 20, in a public Board Meeting held online via ZOOM, new “Sellwood-Moreland Main Street Design Guidelines” were unanimously adopted by the Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) Board of Directors. These advisory guidelines are intended to clarify community goals for design in the core commercial main street areas of the neighborhood, including S.E. Milwaukie Avenue, and S.E. 17th and 13th Avenues, Bybee Boulevard, and Tacoma Street.


“Main streets are the lifeblood of Portland’s neighborhoods and local business districts,” said Heather Flint Chatto, Director of “PDX Main Streets”. “We find that with tools for neighborhoods to establish a vision, and develop their priorities for the future, communities are better able to communicate with designers and developers. When development fits local guidelines, there is often greater acceptance of growth, because it fosters sensitive infill that fits the area’s goals, and is respectful of their unique identity.”


The guidelines are not a mandate or a zoning change; they are an educational tool that highlight local design and building patterns, identify community design preferences, and document a vision for an evolving community with vibrant main streets and an enhanced streetscape. These advisory guidelines can help support more compatible, aesthetically harmonious growth while adding needed housing, services and streetscape improvements as the neighborhood evolves. Learn more about the design guidelines online –


The guidelines were developed by representatives from the SMILE Land Use Committee, the Sellwood-Moreland Business Alliance (SMBA), donated support from PDX Main Streets, and technical support from design consultants Forage Design, and Qamar Architecture & Town Planning. The year-and-a-half-long public process included public workshops and walking tours, community surveys, outreach at local markets, studying local design patterns, outreach on SMILE listserves, Facebook and Instagram, articles in THE BEE and elsewhere, and through SMBA outreach lists.


“It’s been a great process to partner with the Sellwood-Moreland community to raise awareness about the important role of design in making better density that fits in. This isn’t about style, nor traditionalism versus modernism, but about foundational patterns of our city that are notable across all our streetcar-era neighborhood main streets, and throughout our city. Timeless design patterns are often in fact much more affordable even in tall buildings,” said Laurence Qamar, local architect on the project. “Often design concerns are dismissed as a barrier to affordability, however this is generally a myth. Many new buildings are unnecessarily expensive due to arbitrary exaggerated elements on the street fronts. Using best practice approaches commonly found in traditional buildings save cost through stacking floor plates and aligning openings, avoiding cantilevers with expensive structural steel.”


“Everyone deserves good design,” observed Flint Chatto. “To foster more equitable and affordable housing and greater support for density in the city, we need to address both the practice and the product, and ensure robust and inclusive public engagement in these sweeping policy decisions, so that all voices are heard, and local planning is valued.”


“With new policy being reviewed now for updated citywide design standards and guidelines (the DOZA Project), it is a missed opportunity if we undervalue our most character-defining city places. Our streetcar main streets need a different approach to design, and more support for climate-responsive approaches that incentivize adaptive reuse over demolition, retain cultural resources, and maintain naturally occurring affordable housing and legacy businesses.”


In lieu of city policy, these local guidelines are significant tools to help educate and empower communities with resources both to see their local design patterns, and to know how to ask for what they want instead of what they don’t. This sets clearer expectations for developers, and can speed the process. “We are thrilled to have these new tools that document our vision, and give us the language we need to encourage better compatibility and livability when adding new growth,” said David Schoellhamer, Chair of the SMILE Land Use Committee.



“Sundae in the Park” – future uncertain

The largest neighborhood-sponsored event in Inner Southeast Portland each year has been SMILE’s “Sundae in the Park” on the first Sunday in August – the “ice cream sundae, live music, and entertainment” afternoon – in Sellwood Park, in the shade of the tall Douglas Firs. Last summer was its 40th consecutive year, drawing between 2,000 and 3,000 attendees, as usual. The problem has been that the event’s indefatigable Chair of recent years, Nancy Walsh, is no longer physically able to take that role, and no other potential coordinator has stepped up.

But, in a series of meetings in early March, hope arose that it could continue, when it appeared that two leaders at the Sellwood Community House might step forward to lead the event, and if they do, there should be sufficient volunteers available to pull it off. Volunteers from the community are solicited and important to keeping it going, of course, as well. In a meeting at SMILE Station on March 15 the way seemed to be becoming clear to keep this neighborhood family afternoon a mid-summer fixture in Sellwood Park – but the situation changed almost immediately.

Right after that March 15 meeting, public events in Oregon were banned by the Governor, in the fight to contain the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic. Even if the restrictions are lifted as early as sometime in June, it would still be uncertain whether there would then be time to plan Sundae in the Park this year – but reviving it next year would still remain a possibility. We’ll continue to post updates here. If you, yourself, are interested in being a part of this popular community celebration, contact Eric at 503/757-0014.


Rent SMILE Station – or the historic church!


SMILE is the renting agent for the historic and picturesque Oaks Pioneer Church, on S.E. Spokane Street at Grand, just north of the Sellwood Bridge – overlooking the Willamette River. The church, nondenominational and operated entirely as a venue, is available at very attractive rates for weddings, memorials, christenings, and other events. View more online at –

In addition, SMILE owns its own building – SMILE Station, S.E. 13th and Tenino, at 8210 S.E. 13th – which is also for rent at very attractive rates for business meetings, parties, wedding receptions, and other special events; it will seat up to 100, and has tables, chairs, and an industrial kitchen facility. For information on renting either building for your event, call 503/234-3570, and leave a message for Lori Fyre; she will return your call.


Community volunteers serve on SMILE committees, too!


SMILE is also looking for neighbors to serve on one or more of SMILE’s committees, including:

  • Transportation Committee
  • Land-Use Committee
  • Stewardship of Natural Amenities Committee (“SNAC”)
  • Sundae in the Park Committee
  • History Committee
  • Emergency Preparedness Committee
  • Crime Prevention Committee
  • Historic Pioneer Church Committee
  • SMILE Station Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Communications Committee
  • Various ad-hoc committees, as needed

Attend a SMILE meeting, and find out more about what we do!



Websites for Sellwood-Westmoreland


SMILE offers two complementary websites as a resource for the neighborhood. One is the neighborhood’s blog – – posting neighborhood news, and regularly updated. A second website contains SMILE’s agendas, minutes, announcements, documents, resources, and much ongoing and regularly-updated neighborhood reference information at – In addition, SMILE maintains an informational website for the Oaks Pioneer Church on Spokane Street at the east end of the Sellwood Bridge, for which it is the renting agent – For information on the Sellwood Community House on the corner of S.E. 15th and Spokane Street in Sellwood, now operated as its own separate community nonprofit, “Friends of Sellwood Community House”, go online to:



Who SMILE members are


SMILE members are EVERYONE living in, working in, or owning property in, Sellwood and/or Westmoreland – unless they specifically exempt themselves. All SMILE members are welcome to volunteer for any of the SMILE committees of particular interest to them.



SMILE is a 501c3 nonprofit


Of the 95 recognized neighborhood associations in Portland, SMILE is one of the few to be authorized by the IRS as a nonprofit “501c3” organization. This means that donations made to SMILE are tax-deductible – and are very welcome!





At-Large Board Seats (2-year terms):



Elaine O'Keefe

Elizabeth Milner

Julie Currin

Eriks Berzins  (elected in Feb 2020 to complete Justin Dick's term)


Bob Burkholder

Gail Hoffnagle

Priyesh Krishnan  (elected in Feb 2020 to complete Joel Leib's term)

Rhea Smith



Portland, Oregon 97202

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