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Where do the SMILE Design Guidelines apply? 

The focus of the guidelines are SE Milwaukie and 17th Avenues, SE 13th Avenue, Tacoma Street, and SE Bybee Boulevard. 

How were the guidelines developed? Over the past year, the Sellwood-Moreland Land Use Committee has been reaching out to the community with surveys, public workshops and design walks to identify our design priorities and goals. The purpose has been to create a document that could help guide new development along our main streets to better fit with the existing context of the area. 


These guidelines are informed by policy precedents and technical experts, community surveys and approximately 150 participants at community workshops and events and more than 80 vision surveys received. (see page 27 of the guidelines to learn more). These guidelines were published publicly in mid-February, and widely distributed to the community through SMILE and partner mailing lists, sent to all participants who attended project workshops, posted via Nextdoor, and shared in the the local paper. The SMILE Neighborhood Association Land Use Committee Meeting reviewed these on March 4th as well with strong support. 


Thank you to the many community members for their involvement in the process!


SMILE Neighborhood Association Board Review - Discussion & Adoption  | May 20, 2020 7:30 pm

Online meeting info to be announced. SAVE THE DATE!·


Send comments, edits, ideas, testimonials, or other feedback to: 



Deadline for Written Comments: May 15, 2020.





Why Should Communities Use Design Guidelines? Recent development has more frequently created significant contrasts in compatibility and context. A long-standing neighborhood identity can be easily overwhelmed and erased in these small areas when new development is both larger and a sharp contrast to local design patterns. Large and small development can fit together when they relate. Working with these local design patterns and helping communities and developers use these tools can create better development and help engender greater support for density when done well.

Is this trying to making all new buildings look old? Or only about preservation? NO. The guidelines are style neutral. It's not about style. Its about relating to form and local design patterns. The guidelines may help with preservation efforts if desired but also work well when encouraging creative new design that fits local goals.


Having the List of Special Buildings in the appendix can help teach local architects your local patterns and also may help inform future efforts to update the City of Portland's long out-of-date 1980's Historic Resource Inventory (HRI)  as only a few of the local buildings on our historic main streets are included, yet are certainly deserving.

Image from "Building Blocks for Outer Southeast Neighborhoods"

How are these guidelines different from what the City is doing with the current DOZA Design Standards & Guidelines Process (currently under review by the Planning Commission)? 

The Sellwood-Moreland Design Guidelines were initiated at the grassroots level to empower communities with a greater voice in how we grow to better fit local identity. These are different from the standards and guidelines being created by the City through the "DOZA" Design Overlay Zoning Amendments policy process. The PDX Main Street Guidelines are more community based and specific to main street areas of special character. 

The Main Street Design Guidelines are Voluntary, how can they have more teeth? 


Most development will go through development standards so we need Main Street Design Standards as part of new DOZA citywide design policy underway. Learn more below and on our Policy Page.

Why is this is important locally and citywide? 


Main street-specific design standards are missing for many of Portland's narrow, street-car era historic commercial areas and very few have historic district status e.g. Sellwood-Moreland, Hawthorne, Alberta, Montavilla, etc.


Notably, these are absent from the proposed DOZA citywide design standards policy updates in progress now (a first major update in 30 years) despite many community-wide concerns about incompatibility and design.


Recent discussions at the Planning Commission on DOZA Standards are considering no Design Commission Review unless above 75 feet, overlooking impacts to these vulnerable un-designated historic areas.

Without a set of common Main Street design standards in DOZA to help guide growth with sensitivity for these older historic areas, these guidelines  can somewhat help fill this gap in policy and serve as a proactive, voluntary local tool for communities to have a local voice and to encourage better compatibility as we add needed housing and infill. 

What can the community do to be involved in making a difference on the larger scale? 


Advocate for Main St. Standards | Donate | Volunteer | Contact Us to Learn More.

What should community members do next on the Guidelines? 

  1. Review the Draft Design Guidelines and share feedback. Not sure how?
    Ideas: write a testimonial in support if you like them. Tell us to change something if you don't, and ideally in what way if you have ideas.


  2. Save the date for the adoption meeting on May 20th - details posted soon. We'll email you if you're on the notice list. If you're not on the list, email us.

  3. Learn how to use the guidelines and how to advocate for what you want to encourage (see pages 5-7 as a quick reference). It's your neighborhood - you love it, and so do we. Find out how these guidelines can be a starting point to make your vision happen.


Reminder to submit your comments and feedback by May 15, 2020 to 

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