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Hales: Portland Getting Airbnb Headquarters in Old Town

And other big announcements from the State of the City speech

Portland has landed a deal with short-term home rental startup Airbnb for its North American operational headquarters, Mayor Charlie Hales announced in today's State of the City speech.

The Old Town location for the San Francisco-based company will bring Portland 160 jobs, Hales said. The news was first reported this morning by the Portland Business Journal.

Airbnb provides an online marketplace where people can rent apartments, houses and rooms in people's homes as an alternatives to hotels. The company was valued last year at $2.5 billion.

The Portland location, in a building on Southwest 2nd Avenue currently home to data mappers Thetus Corporation, will handle rental logistics in North America, while Airbnb's corporate headquarters will remain in San Francisco.

Here are a few other policy announcements from the mayor's annual speech to Portland City Club at the Sentinel Hotel: 

  1. Hales confirmed his new tack on approving new taxes or fees for the Portland Bureau of Transportation—he'll try to pass it through City Council this year, and take it to voters only if legally required. "We will put a revenue measure before City Council and, if necessary, the voters," Hales said. He argued that the new money is urgent for pedestrian safety. "We had 16 homicides last year. We lost 35 people to cars. This is a crisis. And we need to attend to it. It's the number-one priority."
  1. The mayor described the Public Water District ballot initiative as a "costly and sinister scheme." He described a nightmare scenario of a new, corporate-controlled board wrecking chaos. "Really, do we need yet another layer of government in Multnomah County?" Hales asked. "Really? Elections every year in Portland? I like politics, but there's a limit."
  1. Hales pledged to put $1 billion back on the tax rolls by cutting back urban renewal areas run by the Portland Development Commission. "We have, as a city, sometimes used URAs as an ATM," he said. He also discussed his effort to revive a deal for a Trader Joe's on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. "I'm not sure we can pull this off," Hales said. "But we should try."