August 6th, 2014 | by Sami Edge and Aaron Mesh News | Posted In: City Hall, Housing

Airbnb Has Spent $24,000 Lobbying Portland City Council

Its new hotel taxes won't be earmarked for affordable housing.

news1_4036ILLUSTRATION: Allison Kerek

Airbnb's visit to Portland City Hall was very successful—but it wasn't cheap.

As reported in this morning's Murmurs, Airbnb spent $19,782 from April through June lobbying City Hall to grant the city’s unprecedented seal of approval on the San Francisco startup’s short-term rental operations.

That brings Airbnb's year-to-date lobbying expenses to $24,282—and that's not counting what it spent in July, when it laid out a City Hall buffet of muffins and sandwiches for its clients.

Meanwhile, city records show Airbnb’s fiercest opponent, apartment management group Multifamily NW, spent $1,016 in the same span. Multifamily NW wants to make sure the city doesn't approve short-term rentals in apartments and condos—though Mayor Charlie Hales says that change is coming.

The code changes approved by the City Council put limits on the online rentals, making legit some of the otherwise no-tell motels of about 1,600 Portlanders already advertising through Airbnb. 

What's remarkable about the deal Airbnb struck in Portland, however, is that while the city legalized some of the company's rentals, it's accepting the lodging taxes from all of them. City officials are expecting nearly $500,000 a year in new taxes.

Today, the City Council has rejected Commissioner Dan Saltzman's plan to dedicate that money to an affordable housing fund. (The Portland Mercury has detailed coverage of that squabble.)

Homeowners who want to turn bedrooms in their homes into hotel rooms can do so starting Sept. 2 by purchasing a $180 permit and scheduling a city safety inspection.

 
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