What is Cedar Mill?

cedar mill cdp

By Virginia Bruce

cedar mill cdp
Our only official designation is Census Designated Place, or CDP

In some ways you could more easily approach this issue as, “What Cedar Mill isn’t.” It is not a city or town. It doesn’t have its own zip code. Its only official designation is “a census-designated place” on the census map. Generally speaking, our boundaries are Highway 26 (Sunset Highway) on the south, 153rd on the west, West Union/Thompson on the north, and west of the Willamette Stone. The community was named by JQA Young when he became the postmaster in 1874, for the sawmill that he owned.

The first white settlers arrived in 1847. Before that our foothills were a resource area for the Atfálati or Tualatin band of the Kalapuya native people, who maintained family camps that they visited during their summer food round, gathering food and materials that they took back to winter settlements in Beaverton and the Gaston area.

What Cedar Mill emphatically is—is a community. We have most of the shopping and services people need for everyday living. We have the Cedar Mill Community Library, which is the largest non-profit association library in the state. We have a rich environmental legacy of streams, forests, and a lovely waterfall.

It’s one segment of the urban unincorporated area (UUA) of Washington County, a designation that includes communities such as Cedar Mill, Bethany, Aloha, Cedar Hills, and Raleigh Hills/Garden Home. Approximately 220,000 people live in the UUAs of Washington County. If it was all one city, it would be the second largest in the state.

beaverton service area
The pink area is the part of Beaverton’s ‘ultimate service area’ that is Bethany and Cedar Mill

Beaverton sees Cedar Mill as part of their eventual expansion area, but there’s little urgency. The 2018 Urban Planning Area Agreement between the county and Beaverton (currently being updated) shows the area as part of Beaverton’s Urban Planning Area, but after a brief flurry of road annexation in the early 2000s, the city hasn’t done much aside from applying its zoning to a few annexed areas, such as Timberland.

Beaverton might need to improve a lot of urban infrastructure—sidewalks and roads, for example—to bring some areas up to city standards. Presumably they would replace our urban service providers, such as Clean Water Services, Tualatin Valley Water, and the Sheriff, with city services.

Previously Washington County pursued a policy that would get them out of the business of providing city services to unincorporated areas. Early analysis (circa 1983) for the Comprehensive Framework Plan for the Urban Area, noted that the County was “an appropriate unit of government to provide urban services in the unincorporated area in conjunction with special districts and municipal bodies.”

There’s not much interest currently in incorporating Cedar Mill as a city. “We looked into it several years ago, but found it involved a tremendous amount of work,” said Elissa Ryan, who used to be an attorney active in the Cedar Mill Business Association. “Aside from defining us as a city, there just aren’t many advantages.” Other efforts to create a new city never went anywhere. The last area to incorporate in Oregon, Damascus, encountered so many problems that they eventually voted to go back to being unincorporated Clackamas County!

So it remains up to us, the residents and business community of Cedar Mill, to continue to define the nature of our community. Whether we ever become part of Beaverton or not, let’s hope we’ll always be Cedar Mill.

More resources: 247WallSt has reasonably recent demographic information.