1600 Airbnb hosts, only 73 permit applicants

Enforcement is complaint-driven, city says

A city application for an Airbnb location, Nov. 7, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
A city application for an Airbnb location, Nov. 7, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Marine Layer on NW 23rd in Portland, Nov. 6, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Marine Layer on NW 23rd in Portland, Nov. 6, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Airbnb said they have about 1600 hosts in the Portland area, but less than 100 have applied for permits.

Portland city code had to be changed so homes in residential areas could operate commercially as hosts of Airbnb.

But a retailer on NW 23rd has a room for rent and they don’t have a permit.

On the lower level of Marine Layer, you’ll find clothing for a casual laidback lifestyle. But upstairs, above the business, “it’s like a crash pad, it’s like a glorified crash pad for us,” said Nish Nadaraja.

It’s actually a nicely decorated, well-kept, cozy loft that rents for $150 per night on Airbnb.

Nish Nadaraja of Marine Layer on NW 23rd in Portland, Nov. 6, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Nish Nadaraja of Marine Layer on NW 23rd in Portland, Nov. 6, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

“To my knowledge,” Nadaraja said, “we’re doing everything by the book.”

They are, said the city’s enforcement program manager Mike Liefeld.

“What you have here is a mixed-use building,” he said.

The building is in a commercial zone and retail uses are allowed, and those uses include short-term rentals.

“They’re not subject to the type of permit requirements that the city just adopted,” Liefeld said. “They would just need to make sure that they have the right occupancy permit for the building.”

Portland enforcement program manager Mike Liefeld, Nov. 7, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Portland enforcement program manager Mike Liefeld, Nov. 7, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

There are 17 other listings on Airbnb within several blocks of the Marine Layer store. Most of them are apartments and condos, which are currently illegal to rent under city code.

But they don’t have a lot to worry about.

Liefeld said the city does “not have resources” to actively go out and look for violators. Enforcement, he said, is complaint-driven.

That bodes well for the hundreds of homes and rooms in residential neighborhoods that are already listing on Airbnb — and currently operating illegally.

As of now, only 73 applications were filled out since the process began August 30. Asked why he thinks so few people have applied for permits, Liefeld said, “That’s the million dollar question.”

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