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on July 30, 2014 at 11:10 AM, updated July 30, 2014 at 7:04 PM
- Portland legalizes Airbnb-style short-term rentals
- Airbnb says Portland hosts could provide emergency housing in a disaster
- Airbnb, acting as Portland’s lodging tax collector, won’t hand over users’ names or addresses
- Portland City Council again open to Airbnb-style rentals in apartments, condos
- Legalized Airbnb-style rentals, if approved in Portland, won’t include apartments and condos
Portland will start issuing permits for its first legal short-term rental operations in private homes as soon as September.
The Portland City Council on Wednesday gave its OK for Portlanders to rent out one or two bedrooms in their home over-the-counter, $180 permit after an inspection and notifying neighbors.
The city Bureau of Development Services, which will oversee the permitting and inspection program, said it’s expecting to start issuing permits Sept. 2. More information on how to apply for a permit would likely be posted online before then, said enforcement manager Mike Liefeld.
“We have to strike a balance between inn how we accommodate commerce, including this new kind, and our great neighborhoods,” said Mayor Charlie Hales, adding, “I think we got it right this time.”
Some neighborhood groups had opposed the measure, saying it would bring traffic, noise and a rotating cast of strangers into residential areas.
“We now are mixing commercial and residential,” said Robert McCullough, president of the Eastmoreland Neighborhood Association and the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition, which advocated delaying the decision for more study. “Most people who sign up will be very responsible … but it obviously is going to be a bit of a shock when people discover there is a rooming house next door.”
Users of services like Airbnb turned out in favor of the proposal, saying the ability to rent out rooms provides helpful supplemental income.
In a blog post, a lobbyist for Airbnb hailed the “sensible legislation,” but said the company would continue to rally its users in an effort to expand on what’s allowed.
Many of the short-term rental operations in the city remain illegal, including those in multifamily apartment and condo buildings and rentals of entire homes, where the owner doesn’t live at least 9 months of the year.
The multifamily structures were left out because, under the city’s interpretation of the state building code, most would have to meet similar safety requirements as commercial hotels. Few apartment and condo buildings would live up to that standard.
Whole-house vacation rentals were left out because of concerns they would replace long-term rental housing and contribute to rising housing costs.
But the city council has said it intends to revisit both issues later this year.
The legalization also clears the way for more operators of short-term rentals to start paying required lodging taxes also paid by traditional hotels. Airbnb, one of the most popular online facilitators of short-term rentals, has started collecting those taxes on behalf of its users.
Commissioner Dan Saltzman plans to introduce legislation next week that would put that lodging tax revenue — expected to amount to $500,000 in 2015 — toward an affordable rental housing fund.
Saltzman, who oversees the housing bureau, said diverting the lodging tax revenue would be a small step toward shoring up diminishing resources from urban renewal and the federal government.
“There’s a clear nexus between this shared economy and displacing (long-term) renters,” he said. “Within that is a good opportunity for the council to start establishing ways to invest in affordable rental housing.”
The vote was unanimous, with Commissioner Nick Fish absent.