Southwest Hills Residential League


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NOTE: SWHRL Emails: or

Southwest Hills Residential League (SWHRL)

c/o Southwest Neighborhoods Inc.

7688 SW Capitol Hwy

Portland, OR 97219

General Membership Meetings are held the 3rd Wednesday of January, May, and October, 6:30-8:30pm at Ainsworth School. Annual Board elections are held at the May meeting. SWHRL Board meetings are the 3rd Wednesday of the other months, 7-8:30pm at Ascension Chapel.

SWHRL annual Picnic in the Park - Sunday, 5 August 2018, 4-6pm
Portland Heights Park (adjacent to Strohecker's)
Potluck, Kid's Market, Family Games, Public Safety Officers

Next SWHRL Board Meeting:
Wednesday, 18 July 2018, 7:00-8:30pm
Ascension Episcopal Parish
1823 SW Spring St.
Meetings are open to the public. Let us know if there are any items you'd like on the agenda.


Land use review timeline:

-April 16, 2018: Submit public comments to be considered prior to BDS staff response
-April 20, 2018: BDS staff report & recommendations
-Wednesday, May 2, 2018, 1:30pm: Public Hearing before Hearings Officer
-May 30, 2018, 9am: 2nd Public Hearing before Hearings Officer, 1900 SW 4th Ave, Room 3000
-May 30, 2018: Public comments accepted until end of public hearing
-June 21, 2018: Hearings Officer findings/recommendation to City Council 
-Hearing before City Council: Wednesday, August 8, 2018, 2pm, City Hall

Strohecker's - stay involved and informed! On August 8th at 2pm, Portland City Council will consider an application by the current owner to remove a series of development conditions that restrict the use and redevelopment options for the old Stroh's grocery store property. We want to gather updated neighborhood feedback.

Could you please take a short survey for us?

You may review the file on this case by appointment at the BDS office at 1900 SW Fourth Ave., Suite 5000, Portland, OR 97201. Please call the file review line at 503-823-7617 to schedule an appointment. Your comments to the Hearings Office should be mailed c/o Land Use Hearings Officer, 1900 SW Fourth Ave., Suite 3100 Portland, OR 97201 or FAX your comments to (503) 823-4347.

The Hearings Officer findings and recommendation to City Council was published June 21, 2018. The Council will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, August 8, 2018, 2pm at City Hall, where they will hear testimony, and then will make the final decision. The more neighbors at the City Council Hearing, the better. Even if you don't want to give oral testimony, you can show your support for protecting our retail amenities by being there in person. And don't forget, you can just submit written comments up to the end of the hearing. If you have questions about testifying, email The most effective testimony is focused on the "approval criteria" - repetitive emotional diatribes can be counterproductive. To learn more about the approval criteria, see the BDS staff report, and/or the SWHRL response (link below).


As you know, the Strohecker's property owner filed an application with the City to remove conditions of the 1984 Ordinance requiring a grocery only, to allow the property to revert to the underlying Neighborhood Commercial zoning CN2. (Under the new Comp Plan effective 24 May 2018, the zone would be CM1).

Here is the SWHRL Board response to the proposal submitted 27 March 2018 to the Bureau of Development Services.

This response was used as a basis for our testimony at the public hearing on the proposal before the Hearings Officer, May 2, 2018. Other documents:
Applicant additional response to opponents' arguments at 30 May 2018 Hearing

NEW-18 May 2018: Revised Staff Report
Staff Report and Recommendations to the Hearings Officer
earings Officer Schedule

Since the Hearings Officer was looking for arguments which speak to the relevant approval criteria the City is applying to the case, our response focused on those, namely the "2035 Comprehensive Plan policies and goals." One of our main arguments is that the CM1 Commercial zoning alone would not guarantee continuing retail use of the site, and would allow it to become residential/multi-dwelling only. 

BDS posted the land use notice dd April 11, 2018. It explains the land use review procedure and timeline. Here is some of the narrative in the notice:
The Bureau of Development Services Staff report posted on the BDS website. Look at On the left side of the page use the search box to find Development Services, then click on the Zoning/Land Use section select Notices and Hearings. Land use review notices are listed by the District Coalition shown at the beginning of this document. The file and all evidence on this case are available for your review by appointment only. Please call the Request Line at our office, 1900 SW Fourth Avenue, Suite 5000, phone 503-823-7617, to schedule an appointment.

Here are additional documents related to the application.

Main Narrative

Exhibits 1-4

Exhibit 3 Traffic Study

The owner claims that after 2 years of unsuccessful efforts to lease the site to another grocery, or to sell the property, he maintains that the restrictive, outdated Ordinance must be removed, or the property will become derelict. He and others say that the large footprint grocery is no longer the viable model that it might have been in Strohecker's heyday. We would point out that he doesn't mention two key factors in the equation: declining quality + high prices at the market and inflated purchase price & presumably too-high a rent or asking price.

The owner's application requests removal of the Ordinance's restrictions so the property can revert to the underlying CM1 Neighborhood Commercial zoning. Unfortunately, there is no development proposal on the table at this point that we could react to. The owner is not a developer. 

Some background:

The CM1 Commercial/Mixed Use zoning would allow either all commercial; mixed use (generally retail on ground floor with condos or apartments above); or all residential multi-dwelling. Regulations on height, setbacks, property coverage, etc. for this zone would apply if the Ordinance is removed. Below are the descriptions of these zones.

Current Underlying Zoning for 2855 SW Patton Rd per

Under new Comprehensive Plan, effective 24 May 2018, CM1 – Commercial/Mixed Use

Commercial/Mixed Use 1 zone. The Commercial/Mixed Use 1 (CM1) zone is a small-scale zone intended for sites in dispersed mixed use nodes within lower density residential areas, as well as on neighborhood corridors and at the edges of neighborhood centers, town centers and regional centers. The zone is also appropriate in core commercial areas of centers in locations where older commercial storefront buildings of 1 to 2 stories are predominant. This zone allows a mix of commercial and residential uses. The size of commercial uses is limited to minimize impacts on surrounding residential areas. Buildings in this zone will generally be up to three stories tall. Development is intended to be pedestrian-oriented and compatible with the scale and characteristics of adjacent residentially zoned areas or low-rise commercial areas.

Maximum height: 35'

To see Nancy Seton's notes from the August 22, 2017, Pre-Application Conference on Strohecker's, click here.

Land Use Case # LU 17-162196 CUMS - St Thomas More Catholic Church
10-year Conditional Use Master Plan for renovations. Request for Response notice. Public hearing before Hearings Officer held July 11, 2018. SWHRL testified in support, with plea for PBOT to help us work on traffic congestion at nearby intersections. Next steps: Determine our priorities for which problem sites to focus on, motivate neighborhood to lobby for fixes. Please let us know if you can help!

NOTE: Zoo concerts have started up again. If you have noise concerns, call the Zoo at 503-226-1561 or the Noise Control Officer Paul van Orden, 503-823-5829. The zoo is required to log noise complaints.

New SWHRL Board for 2018-19 elected at the May 16, 2018 annual SWHRL Membership Meeting: 

Thank you to all who participated! A special thanks to new SWHRL Board members Lisa Caballero and Chris Kopca, and continuing Board members Aesha Lorenz, Bill Failing, Ryan Fedie, Sarah Flanagan, John Neumann, Nancy Seton, Kim Silverman and Scott Young. NOTE: It's never too late to volunteer to join the Board - we can vote you in at any Board meeting. Feel free to come to Board meetings to see how you might fit in. 
We still have openings for Board members, Communications Director (website, newsletter, Facebook, Nextdoor), those interested in working on Land Use, Transportation, Public Safety issues, Neighborhood Historian...

Your SWHRL Neighborhood Association does important work:

  • Monitors plans & decisions from the City, from developers & others that affect livability
  • Advocates for neighborhood interests & priorities
  • Encourages & facilitates neighbors input
  • Informs neighbors of issues/events via SWHRL E-newsletter, website, Facebook,
  • Responds to land use proposals for development, short term rentals, demolitions
  • Deals with traffic issues, trails, ped/cyclist infrastructure & safety
  • Monitors & follows up on crime/public safety*
  • Tracks schools issues & informs neighbors
  • Builds community/organizes events – picnic, movies, neighborhood walks
  • Initiates projects such as the Vista-Spring Restoration, creating a small pocket park
  • Documents neighborhood history


Public Safety/Crime

Our neighborhood coalition SWNI’s Public Safety Committee hosts quarterly meetings with police reps on crime and public safety for residents in SW Portland. Anyone is welcome to attend to discuss their concerns. Kim Silverman and Nancy Seton attended the meeting on Jan 4, 2018, and shared what they learned at the Jan. 17 SWHRL member meeting. Check SWHRL’s website for a summary. Watch for dates of these special quarterly meetings and other events on the SWNI Public Safety site:

Also on this SWNI Public Safety site watch for announcements on emergency preparedness:  NOTE: New Neighborhood Emergency Team (NET) class in March 2018. Portland (and SWHRL!) need more trained volunteers to respond in emergencies. The next Basic NET class has been scheduled for March 3, 10, and 17.


Ongoing meetings of Westside Neighbors for [Property] Tax Reform:

The initial December meeting of the group featured an overview of how our property taxes work, how they got that way, and how we might exert influence to make them more rational and equitable. At the January meeting the group heard about strategies for change with guest speaker - tax attorney - and SW neighbor Michael Mangan of Tonkon Torp. If you need copies of the background materials, and/or want to get on the group's email notification list for upcoming meetings, contact:


Ainsworth ReaderBoard coming soon...

Ainsworth Elementary School's new ReaderBoard will be approx. 20 SF, 2'6"x8'-0" and be located just above an offset to the right, the existing Ainsworth sign on Vista. 

The expectation is that the reader board will be illuminated from 7am-7pm. The school's main audience will be dropping off and picking up their little one, as well as passing the school on the way to and from work. These hours will accommodate aftercare children and parents. 

SWHRL Bylaws Revision

The new, amended SWHRL Bylaws were adopted on October 18, 2017.  They are now in sync with the city's Bylaws template, with a few tweaks. Bylaws 


Continuing Need for SWHRL Board Members, Other Volunteers:

SWHRL can only carry out its mission to look out for the interests of our community if we have help from all corners of the neighborhood. Are you retired, and willing to take on some rewarding activities? Or not retired, but care greatly about the quality of life in your neighborhood? It’s time to let new volunteers to take their turns. Please join the SWHRL Board or any of its committees to make an impact on the future of your neighborhood.

Please step up now and volunteer for: 

  • The SWHRL Board (at large members representing different areas of the neighborhood)
  • Transportation Committee (especially those with an interest in bike, pedestrian and transit issues):
    • Tracks transportation issues relevant to SWHRL & formulates SWHRL positions & responses;
    • Meets with representatives of other neighborhoods on issues of mutual interest
  • Land Use Committee:
    • Responds to the City’ Land Use notices of proposed development in the neighborhood;
    • Tracks land use issues relevant to SWHRL and formulates SWHRL positions & responses;
    • Crafts SWHRL Neighborhood Plan
    • Meets with representatives of other neighborhoods on issues of mutual interest.
  • Schools Committee
  • Outreach Communications:
  • SWHRL History:
    • Help with documentation and archiving of SWHRL history – oral and written
    • Do you have a family or Portland Heights story to share? Let us know!
  • Reps to SWNI Committees, e.g. Land Use, Transportation, etc.)

We are so pleased to have John Neumann sharing the SWHRL President duties with Nancy Seton this year. John and Nancy will also manage SWHRL communications, including the newsletter and website, but they would be happy for help collecting news, if you're so inclined. Kim Silverman is our new Treasurer, and Aesha Lorenz Al-Saeed will try out the Secretary role. 

Interested in getting together with neighbors to discuss issues, such as the future of Strohecker's? Schools? Trails? Emergency Preparedness? Let us know your email address so we can contact you.  

Please attend our general membership meetings to let us know your views and concerns, and even sit in on our monthly SWHRL Board meetings – they are open to the public.

Sign up for our E-Viewpoints newsletter via our email below or our website: on the main SWHRL web page click on the words “Join Our List.”

Contact us by email at


Volunteers Welcome: SWHRL "Invasives to Natives" Restoration Project to Beautify Corner at SW Vista Ave. at SW Spring Street

We’ve been made great progress during the winter and spring, removing invasive, non-native species from the City’s right of way at the corner of SW Vista and Spring Street. With the help of dedicated volunteers, we've weeded, added a seating area with boulders, and paths (courtesy of Boy Scouts).  There will be ongoing weeding and replanting with native and hardy plants. We're exploring ideas to add a little public art - a book kiosk/little free lending library and ceramic art from Ainsworth students. Any ideas?

To join future work parties, contact SWHRL: or Nancy Seton at 503-224-3840 to get on the email notification list. All ages - students, parents, Boy/Girl Scouts, and any others welcome. This will be a beautiful spot we can be proud of!


SWHRL Action Plan

View the SWHRL Action Plan 2017-18.


Join Southwest Hills for neighborhood news:

Join the discussion on what's happening at the Strohecker's site. See announcements for upcoming SWHRL meetings. Find recommendations for contractors, babysitters, piano teachers. Read about the latest coyote sightings. Look for the Southwest Hills Moms Group and women's biking group on social networking site NextDoor. NextDoor is a great way to find out what is happening in our area and connect with neighbors. The more of us who use it, the better tool it becomes.