Business | Economy | News

Commissioners Concerned, But Vote To Make Airbnb Legal

OPB | July 30, 2014 12:44 p.m. | Updated: Sept. 4, 2014 2:44 p.m. | Portland

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Posting your spare bedroom for rent on Airbnb is now legal in Portland.

Cottage in Portland on Airbnb website.

Cottage in Portland on Airbnb website.


The City Council voted unanimously to approve short-term rentals Wednesday, but pledged to track the impact of the code changes on affordable housing.

Even as they voted aye, several council members expressed ambivalence, including Commissioner Steve Novick.

“I’m probably just an old-fashioned, stodgy guy, but I find this development of short-term rentals somewhat nervous making,” he said.

Novick said he believed taxing and regulating the previously illegal business was preferable to an attempt to crack down on it.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz pointed out that while Airbnb has agreed to collect a lodging tax from its users and pay it to the city, other home sharing sites have not.

“So pay your taxes please,” she said.

Housing commissioner Dan Saltzman called Airbnb a great corporate citizen, and said it had helped some Portland residents afford their property taxes. But he said he’s worried about the effect of rentals on the city’s poor.

“The double edged effect of this is, it will allow people to rent out their rooms on a short term basis and that will diminish the supply of affordable housing,” he said.

Saltzman said next week he will propose dedicating some of the lodging tax to Portland’s affordable housing fund.

The council has asked city staff to report back in 2016 on the impact of short-term rentals.


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