Portland Successfully Pursues $52,000 Fine for an Airbnb Host

For the first time since legalizing short-term rentals in 2014, Portland City Hall has cracked down on a property listed on the websites Airbnb and VRBO with the full force of city code. The owner of a house in North Portland's Humboldt neighborhood faces a possible $52,750.91 fine for charging up to $549 a night to rent six bedrooms. (City rules generally prohibit renting out more than two bedrooms a night and require a permit.) On Jan. 5, Portland hearings officer Adelia Hwang found "egregious" violations of city code by Dozer Construction, which owns the house on North Gantenbein Avenue. Hwang ordered the company to pay a $10,000 fine and surrender all rent collected from Aug. 1 through Dec. 1, 2016. The city and Dozer have until Jan. 19 to comment before the ruling becomes final. Dozer's attorney, Andrew Seher, declined to comment. City officials declined to comment until the ruling becomes final.

Four People Die of Hypothermia in New Year

Four people have died of hypothermia on the streets of Portland in less than two weeks. David B. Guyot, 68, was found at a bus stop downtown Jan. 1, and died at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. Mark Elliot Johnson, 51, died Jan. 2 on a sidewalk along East Burnside Street. Karen Lee Batts, 52, died Jan. 7 in a parking garage on Southwest 10th Avenue. An unidentified 29-year-old man was found dead Jan. 10 in the woods below Southwest Barbur Boulevard.
Batts' death came three months after she was evicted from her downtown apartment after failing to pay $338 in rent. Building managers said they evicted her after she damaged property and refused offers for help. "The harsh reality is that dozens of people are dying on our streets in Multnomah County every year," says Israel Bayer, executive director of Street Roots. "And the cold weather has created a nightmare scenario for people sleeping outside."

Lawyer Faces Disbarment on Foreclosure Scam

On Jan. 9, the Oregon State Bar formally recommended that family lawyer Kathleen Rinks be disbarred. That's a rare sanction: In each of the past five years, an average of 11 of the state's more than 12,000 lawyers were disbarred or resigned in lieu of disbarment. The bar's actions came in response to WW's story about how Rinks sold the right to redeem her home from foreclosure to at least five buyers ("Redemption for Sale," WW, Oct. 21, 2015). The bar alleges that Rinks is guilty of dishonest and criminal behavior. Her only response to proceedings in the past year was an attempt to resign, which the bar rejected because she failed to provide sufficient information about her existing cases. "The charges are serious, and we clearly believe the only appropriate sanction is disbarment," says bar spokeswoman Kateri Walsh. A bar disciplinary panel now has 28 days to rule on the disbarment recommendation. Rinks could not be reached for comment.