From The Editor

What the heck is “Moreland”?
Google Maps, Westmoreland, Sellwood, Moreland, Southeast Portland, Oregon

Several months ago we attempted here to respond to persistent questions about “Moreland”. As in “Sellwood-Moreland”. There isn’t actually a “Moreland”, you see.

That explanation doesn’t seem to have cleared things up, so here goes another try – inspired by the discovery that no less an authority than “Google Maps” seems to be quite confused about it too, as you’ll see in the above screenshot from a local nonprofit website.

To start with, Sellwood was briefly a city in the later 1800’s, after which it was absorbed into the City of Portland. The original northern boundary of the City of Sellwood was Nehalem Street, as BEE historian Eileen G. Fitzsimons informed us. If you are south of the middle of S.E. Nehalem Street, there is no doubt that you live in Sellwood. Of course, now that Sellwood is just a neighborhood, there is no specific and official northern boundary for it.

However, Sellwood definitely ends a bit south of Bybee Boulevard. In the second decade of the Twentieth Century, what is today Westmoreland was carved from the Ladd Estate, was platted, and opened for development.

But at that time there were four “Morelands” created from that estate: Southmoreland, which extended a ways south of Bybee Boulevard; Westmoreland, which was marked near Bybee with a formal street arch with that name on it (you can see the photo of it in the lobby of the Sellwood-Westmoreland Post Office); Northmoreland, which went as far the north as the informally-known as Midway community before there was much between Midway and Sellwood – and Eastmoreland, which is still there, and was the eastern part of the Ladd Estate.  Originally, cows grazed on much of it.

The first three are now known simply as Westmoreland, the western twin of Eastmoreland.

There is no firm consensus as to how far north of Nehalem Street that Sellwood extends today, nor how far south of Bybee that Westmoreland extends, because in the eyes of the city the two communities are part of a single neighborhood – “Sellwood-Moreland”.

And it is in that name that the mischief resides.

It seems fair to say that if there were no SMILE, there would be no thought of a “Moreland”.

SMILE, the acronym that stands for “Sellwood Moreland Improvement League”, is today a unique neighborhood association. It is the oldest of Portland’s 95 neighborhood associations, since it existed under that name before the “neighborhood system” was adopted by Portland – originally, it was a “business booster club”. And, the Moreland in the name did not represent any thought that Westmoreland should be called “Moreland” – it was because there were TWO Morelands in the club, since Eastmoreland was a member of this business booster group too. “Moreland” was simply a shorthand way of expressing both Eastmoreland and Westmoreland.

Of course, when the neighborhood system began in Portland, and SMILE became the official nonprofit neighborhood association for Sellwood and Westmoreland – and Eastmoreland went its own way with ENA, its own neighborhood association – SMILE should have renamed itself “Sellwood Westmoreland Improvement League”, but that would have made its acronym SWIL, and that found very little favor!

So, SMILE choosing to stick with “Moreland” as a way of retaining its pleasant acronym, has led to much confusion. We have found that some people in Westmoreland think they live in Sellwood. (In fact we have seen merchants as far north as the Brooklyn neighborhood say they are in Sellwood!) And a large number of people mistakenly think that “Moreland” is the correct name for Westmoreland.

But, this map from Google takes the confusion a level higher, with entirely different take on the matter – since it shows Sellwood as actually being “Sellwood-Moreland”, and Westmoreland being a separate entity just north of both.

What more can we say! There really is no Moreland. But businesses using the name, such as the Moreland Theater, may intend to welcome both Eastmoreland and Westmoreland residents, of course.

If it’s west of McLoughlin, it’s Westmoreland; and if it’s east of the highway it’s Eastmoreland.

Does that help…?

Letters to the Editor

What happened to the planned barrier…?


As a Woodstock resident and father of two young kids I find it ridiculous that there is an off-leash dog area with no barriers right next to a playground in Woodstock Park. Packs of dogs run though, as my kids play...sometimes contacting kids. A couple of years ago, $30k was allocated for a barrier – then it was suddenly cancelled. It’s to the point that we avoid the park and often go elsewhere.

A. Silkey
via e-mail

Tennis in Sellwood Park


About the Sellwood tennis courts being turned into pickleball and futsal courts: I heard that the pickleball players wanted to turn the northern court (the one under the trees) into some pickleball courts, and I just wanted to let you know that I am against that. I am 100% okay if they take the southern court, but as a tennis player in the neighborhood I have always loved that northern court, and I’ve played on it a ton with my friends, which is why I would appreciate it a lot if it stayed as a tennis court.

Also, from a logical perspective, the pickleball players can put 4 courts in the space of 1 tennis court, so they are already getting a huge benefit. I think that we need to balance that benefit out by giving the tennis players some benefit as well (keeping northern court as tennis court).

Anyway, I totally understand why the pickleball players want to change that northern court into pickleball courts, but I would be soooo grateful if it were decided to give them the southern court instead of the northern court. Like I said, that north court is such a nice court to play on; also, it makes sense logically to give them the southern court.

William Adriance
via e-mail

EDITOR’S NOTE: To catch readers up, if they have not been following this matter in the SMILE newsletter that appears lower on this page – a regional group of pickleball players wants to divide one of the four tennis courts in upper Sellwood Park into four pickleball courts, for which they say there is considerable demand – especially since there are no public pickleball courts in the entire City of Portland so far. They want to take one of the two “better-condition” courts for the purpose, but would “fix up” the adjacent tennis court to make it a better tennis facility. Meantime, another group wants to take the other two courts near the Sellwood Pool, which are regarded as being in very poor condition, and convert them into futsal fields – thus making these playing surfaces into resources for three sports, instead of one. The pickleball and fustal groups are cooperating to this end, and both believe they have secured outside funding to help Portland Parks achieve this plan. Now, Mr. Adrance is hoping to influence which of the “better two” tennis courts should remain as a tennis facility. SMILE has been hearing testimony from these groups, who are hoping for endorsement of the idea by the neighborhood association, prior to approaching PP&R with the idea.


Objects to letter concerning Residential Infill Project


The recent letter to the editor speaking in defense of single family zoning was very frustrating to read. Understanding the origin and history of zoning is critical in understanding why I am frustrated.

The origin of zoning is from New York City in the early 1900’s. There was a combination of factors going on at once, but primarily it was developers building office space faster than the market could absorb [it]. Landlords were losing money so they participated in the economic term “rent seeking”, that is using government to protect and increase their investment. The tools New York created were then adapted and modified to create Euclidean zoning, which is what we have now with separation of uses. . .  This also coincided with a period in our history where factories were dirty and located in our central cities. Zoning was a way to cement into law what people wanted anyway, distance from pollution. . . 

Over time our factories were cleaned up and/or moved to other states and countries. Our cities have cleaned up significantly. Unfortunately we still have pollution. This time however it is locked into our city DNA via the zoning code. Anyone who studies density and transportation knows that cars and single family homes go hand in hand. Despite our progressive environmental leaning in Portland, our significant single family housing stock means we are stuck with cars. Cars and trucks are the leading cause of both air and noise pollution in our city. One can hope for electric cars to save the planet but I remain highly skeptical, and still see reduction in vehicle miles traveled to be better than changing how we power them. . .

If single family homes are so perfect and the best way to live, as if God bestowed them upon us right after ice cream and pizza, then regulations should not be needed to protect them. Housing should be a right. When something is a right we try and reduce barriers to it. Zoning is a huge barrier to housing. If the thing you love so much can only exist by stopping others from having something different, then maybe the thing you love is not worth having in the first place.

Tim DuBois


Clear your sidewalk of overgrowth


I would like to remind everyone in THE BEE’s circulation area to take care of their street trees and sidewalk plants. In particular, I’m referring to your trees and shrubs above or on the edges of the sidewalks.  My wife and I REALLY enjoy walking through our neighborhood – hand in hand, soaking in all the wonderful things about. It is however becoming increasingly difficult to do so. Constant ducking to avoid low hanging branches and breaking stride to go single file because of the arborvitae or rosemary shrubs is really harshing our walks.

We have lived in the neighborhood for several years. I have street trees and I know firsthand it is a pain to keep them trimmed to the correct height above the sidewalk, BUT – it is worth it to avoid the potential litigation of poking a pedestrian’s eye out with an errant twig jutting out at eyeball level.

Seriously, at twilight with low visibility, a branch in the eye is not speculation – it’s a reality. I know because I have the scar on my forehead to prove it – thankfully I’m not too tall or else I would be writing this while wearing an eye patch. If you are vertically challenged, count your blessings – it is dangerous at the 6-feet-plus eyeball level.

Check out the City of Portland Ordinances regarding trees and sidewalks at:

Years ago, I recall reading a letter in THE BEE about a controversial person who trimmed trees [overhanging the sidewalks] without the owners’ consent. I would ask that he or she pick up their loppers and come back to Sellwood/Westmoreland. We need you back here, Midnight Pruner!

Burvin Douglas


New crossing signals in Sellwood-Westmoreland


The new pedestrian and bike crossing signals recently installed by PBOT as part of the 19th Avenue Greenway Project, at Bybee and 19th and at Milwaukie and Mitchell, might not be familiar to some residents. The Rapid Flash Beacons, also called RFB's, have been in Portland for several years, but they still take some getting used to by both pedestrian/cyclists and vehicle drivers, if you haven't seen them before.

Rapid-Flashing Beacons are placed on both sides of a crosswalk below a pedestrian crossing sign, and above an arrow pointing at the crossing. The irregular flashing pattern, similar to the flash pattern used on police and other emergency vehicles, is activated with pushbuttons by a pedestrian or cyclist at the curb. The signal at S.E. Milwaukie and Mitchell has two pushbuttons – one for pedestrians, and also one for bikes.

The flashing starts as soon as the button is pushed. As with any marked or unmarked crosswalk, cars are required to stop for pedestrians or bicyclists who move into the roadway in a crosswalk with the intent to proceed. A key point is to show intent to cross; waiting back on the sidewalk might not clearly let car drivers know that a pedestrian wants to cross.

Once the pedestrian/cyclist crosses the road, motorists may proceed through the crosswalk, even if the lights are still flashing.

As a pedestrian or cyclist, I like to think of these RFBs as “supplemental notification” to drivers. It’s still critical to make yourself visible and show intent to cross, and to make sure drivers see you and stop, before stepping in front of a vehicle!

Hopefully these new crossings will improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists crossing these intersections.

Scott Kelly, Chairman
SMILE Transportation Committee

Letters to the Editor may be submitted via e-mail by clicking HERE.

All letters to the editor are subject to editing for clarity and available space, and all letters become property of THE BEE.


Comments? News tips?

Click here to e-mail us!

Note to readers: At some point, this, our original Internet website, will be replaced at this web address by our new website, as part of the Community Newspapers group. At that time, you will still be able to access this, our original -- and smartphone-friendly -- website, if you save this address: You'll still have your choice of which one to visit!