Portland voters to decide on new short-term rental restrictions

The debate over whether more restrictions should be placed on short-term rentals, like Airbnb, will go before Portland voters in November.Question E is one of five referendums on the ballot, and supporters and opponents of the measure made their pitch to voters on Friday.People First Portland gathered 11,000 signatures in the middle of a pandemic to put the question on the ballot.If approved, it would restrict short-term rentals to only those that are owner-occupied and increase annual fees to $1,000 per unit.”We need to be upholding the intention of residential zoning that was intended to make sure that long-term housing was preserved, not that individual homeowners could essentially become hoteliers,” Kate Sykes, of People First Portland said.The opposition group, Building a Better Portland, launched its campaign online during a Zoom call on Friday. The group said Portland already has limited the number of short-term rentals to 400 in a city where there are 18,000 rental units.The group said just 2% of rental stock is being used for short-term rentals.Proponents of Airbnb, Vrbo and other house-share websites said short-term rentals foster investment and promote tourism.”It’s been so robustly discussed on the council level, so thoroughly reviewed and it’s an ongoing matter, something we continue to monitor. So for one small group to try to dream up the answer to this problem around a kitchen table and push it through by referendum is just the wrong way to do this,” Ethan Boxer-Macomber, of Building a Better Portland, said.Supporters of the proposed restrictions said other cities have implemented them and Portland should join them, while supporters of short-term rentals said more restrictions are not necessary.

The debate over whether more restrictions should be placed on short-term rentals, like Airbnb, will go before Portland voters in November.

Question E is one of five referendums on the ballot, and supporters and opponents of the measure made their pitch to voters on Friday.

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People First Portland gathered 11,000 signatures in the middle of a pandemic to put the question on the ballot.

If approved, it would restrict short-term rentals to only those that are owner-occupied and increase annual fees to $1,000 per unit.

“We need to be upholding the intention of residential zoning that was intended to make sure that long-term housing was preserved, not that individual homeowners could essentially become hoteliers,” Kate Sykes, of People First Portland said.

The opposition group, Building a Better Portland, launched its campaign online during a Zoom call on Friday. The group said Portland already has limited the number of short-term rentals to 400 in a city where there are 18,000 rental units.

The group said just 2% of rental stock is being used for short-term rentals.

Proponents of Airbnb, Vrbo and other house-share websites said short-term rentals foster investment and promote tourism.

“It’s been so robustly discussed on the council level, so thoroughly reviewed and it’s an ongoing matter, something we continue to monitor. So for one small group to try to dream up the answer to this problem around a kitchen table and push it through by referendum is just the wrong way to do this,” Ethan Boxer-Macomber, of Building a Better Portland, said.

Supporters of the proposed restrictions said other cities have implemented them and Portland should join them, while supporters of short-term rentals said more restrictions are not necessary.