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Cedar Mill News
Volume 3, Issue 9


September 2005

Cedar Mill 2040

by Virginia Bruce, editor

In 1990, Metro, our regional government, began a study to provide a 50-year planning strategy for regional growth and development in our area. Metro’s 2040 Growth Concept was adopted in 1995. For more information about the 2040 plan, see the Metro website at metro-region.org/article.cfm?ArticleID=422.

According to our Metro Councilor, Susan McLain, “the next chapter of the 2040 Plan is to connect with the new people in our area.” The 2040 process involved extensive public discussion, including around 21,000 comments received during the study period. Yet many people either weren’t here or didn’t pay much attention to the process and its results. “We need to have a conversation on how we have done in the past decade and what is next for the plan,” McLain asserts.

Part of the point of this planning is to avert “sprawl,” the kind of development so common in cities around the nation. “If we have significant greenspaces,” McLain continues, “we should preserve them for the health of the environment and for our enjoyment rather than build on them, and increase density in the already-built areas.”

This article attempts to envision what Metro’s plans mean for our area. We’ll also take a look at plans from Washington County and Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District (THPRD).

To get an idea of where we’re going, it will help to see where we’re starting from. The population of Cedar Mill was approximately 20,000 in 2000 and this is projected to grow to nearly 40,000 people by 2020.* (For purposes of this article, we’re including the Cedar Mill “Census Designated Place” and the portion of the West Haven-Sylvan CDP that encompasses St. Vincent’s Hospital, the Sunset Transit Center and the Peterkort properties—see map).


To accommodate this increase in population, Washington County has zoned many areas of Cedar Mill at much higher densities than currently exist. Around the Sunset Transit Center and in some areas of the Town Center the zoning calls for 24-40 units per acre. This isn’t exactly high-rise density, but it’s more than we’re used to. Developers will be required to build out to this density or show why it’s not feasible in these areas.
Transportation will be a key issue in our future. The densest areas are all “Transit Oriented” (TO). From the County Community Development Code:

“The intent of the transit oriented districts is to direct and encourage development that is transit-supportive and pedestrian-oriented in areas within approximately one-half mile of light rail transit stations, within one-quarter mile of existing and planned primary bus routes and in town centers and regional centers.

“The purpose of the transit oriented districts is to limit development to that which (1) has a sufficient density of employees, residents or users to be supportive of the type of transit provided to the area; (2) generates a relatively high percentage of trips serviceable by transit; (3) contains a complementary mix of land uses; (4) is designed to encourage people to walk; ride a bicycle or use transit for a significant percentage of their trips.”


“The work of the county in this century is to build a transportation grid,” says Anne Madden, Senior Program Educator in Washington County’s Land Use and Transportation Department. “Our road system was built on farm-to-market roads that followed property lines and land contours,” she explains. Some of the existing routes even date back to native trails (see Elk Trails and Wapato Paths, Cedar Mill News, February ’05). “On the east side of the Willamette, they had primarily flat land and when the road system was built, they just put all the creeks into culverts and paved over them,” says Madden. We’re glad that wasn’t done so extensively here, but it has caused a somewhat confusing road system.
“The County will be working to provide better north-south connections in the Cedar Mill area,” Madden continues. These improvements will include a center turn lane on Saltzman from Cornell to Burton that is already in the works. Improvements will need to be made on 119th/McDaniel to serve the increased development in that area.

Improvements are also needed in connectivity in the Town Center area both north and south of Cornell. A proposed extension of Science Park Drive from Murray to Barnes has been scuttled due to strong objections from residents. This would have gone a long way toward alleviating Cornell congestion but the needs of the few won that time.

The county rarely condemns property for road construction. “We do buy land,” Madden notes, “and we pay a good price. To condemn property we would have to make a case that it was imperative, and that hasn’t happened,” she says. This approach, while it keeps people happy in the short run, can make transportation planning tricky. “Future development will depend a lot on private landowners. All we have been able to do is give good opportunities and work with property owners,” says Madden.

Other improvements in the works for our area include extending Baltic (the road that goes under Highway 26 between St. Vincent’s Hospital and Cedar Hills) northward to the West Haven neighborhood, and making a connection between 143rd and Science Park Drive at Cornell.

More Parks?

Although technically outside of Cedar Mill, there will be some new park facilities in the Bannister Creek area north of Laidlaw near Saltzman. The developer has donated a total of 15 acres to the park, according to Steve Gulgren, Superintendent of Planning and Development for Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District. Trails will connect small tracts among the homes, and playgrounds will serve families there.
It’s been difficult to find large enough parcels in our area that THPRD is willing to purchase. Developers often offer small parcels on unbuildable land. The district used to accept such pieces but no longer is interested in places that don’t make good parks. Desirable land carries such a high price tag in Cedar Mill that the District can’t compete with developers.

One area that has a lot of promise is the stretch of Cedar Mill Creek on the west side of the Teufel Nursery property combined with the land around the JQA Young house on Cornell. Polygon Homes will improve the streamside area before donating the land to the district when development is completed in a few years. This should finally give us a way to enjoy the exquisite little Cedar Mill Falls.
Some park land will likely be added to the district once the Peterkort developments are completed around the intersection of Cedar Hills Boulevard and Barnes. Beaverton’s Johnson Creek runs through the area, and several acres surrounding the stream will be improved and donated.
A parcel at the south end of 114th (just west of Cedar Hills Boulevard) is owned by THPRD and will eventually be added to Foege Park with an overlook for viewing the Cedar Mill Wetland.

Cedar Mill still needs a Community Center. The tiny Grange Hall that served the community in early days is hardly adequate. The district has indefinite plans for some kind of community center in the area but it’s yet unclear where we might find a location for this facility.
As developers adopt the “big house, small lot” strategy, the need for open space and recreation facilities grows. Few developers make room for these facilities within their neighborhoods, so without the district aggressively finding more parkland, people are left without places to walk, play and relax outside.

*Population numbers from Washington County and Metro


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The Cedar Mill News
Published monthly by the Cedar Mill Business Association, Inc.,
P.O. Box 91177
Portland, OR 97291-0177

Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
12110 NW West Rd
Portland, OR 97229