Airbnb Recruits Its Portland Hosts to Lobby Against New Lodging Taxes

City Hall will hold a hearing June 13 on the new taxes, projected to raise upwards of $1.8 million.

(Walker Stockly)

Short-term rental website Airbnb has organized its hosts to lobby Portland City Hall against new taxes on the company and its clients.

Emails sent by the company to hosts ask for "passionate members of the home sharing community" to "tell PDX policymakers to oppose the new Airbnb taxes."

City officials confirm they've received pushback, but aren't changing course. A first hearing on the lodging taxes will go forward on June 13.

"Over the past two weeks we have received nearly 100 emails with near-identical language (though they are not branded as coming from any particular organization)," says Mayor Ted Wheeler's spokesman Michael Cox.

The new tax would charge Airbnb and other short-term rental companies $4 per room per night, with an additional charge on hosts to fund tourism promotion.

The two taxes would yield upward of $1.82 million, according to city projections.

Airbnb says the taxes aren't fair.

"It's important to ensure any new taxes do not unfairly penalize hosts who depend on home sharing in order to afford staying in their homes," says Airbnb spokeswoman Laura Rillos. "We urge the City Council to send these proposals back to the drawing board and work with the short-term rental community to craft more equitable proposals."

Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Nick Fish are co-sponsoring the proposal. Their offices tell WW they plan to proceed with the ordinance.

"We have been getting a lot of feedback on both sides, which shows it's a good policy conversation," says Fish chief of staff Sonia Schmanski. "I don't think it's unreasonable to ask tourists to contribute a few bucks a night to help us address a housing crisis, because this industry has a very real impact on our housing market."

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