Portland City Council Questions airbnb Lobbyist — Will airbnb Step Up to the Plate?

David Owen of airbnb Testifies Before Portland City Council

December 18, 2014

portland city councilNote: Click on the link above and move ahead to 126 minutes to hear David Owen’s testimony and questioning by City Council members. The earlier portion of the video includes testimony from Portland’s Revenue Department regarding tax collection and the Bureau of Development Services regarding zoning compliance. 

Background: After having passed new legislation to license airbnb rentals in single family homes, the sign up rate for airbnb hosts has only been 7% – 8% in three months. The new ordinance requires airbnb hosts to display their permit number in their listing. As City Council considers expanding the licensing procedure to airbnb hosts in apartments and condos City Council is considering asking airbnb to supply basic contact information for hosts who do not display permit numbers in their listings.

Issues: While much of the discussion focuses on whether or not airbnb will share host contact information with The City (the same issue as in New York City) an alternative approach (not considered) would be to require airbnb and other listing services to only display listings with permit numbers and remove any listings that The City identified as fraudulent. This approach would not require airbnb to reveal host data or actively “police” its hosts and could meet The City’s objective of ensuring public safety through the permit process.