In a move that could both improve the livelihood of cities and appease lawmakers that frown upon the company’s business practices, Airbnb announced today a new long-term initiative called “Shared City,” and has picked Portland, Ore., as its first destination.
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky outlined the goals of the amibitious program in this post on Medium today.
“Shared City is our initiative to help civic leaders and our community create more shareable, more livable cities through relevant, concrete actions and partnerships,” he wrote.
“Shared City,” is about helping local businesses thrive, creating more micro-entrepreneurs and strengthening communities — all by way of Airbnb’s business model, which epitomizes the sharing economy and allows people to rent out unused rooms in their home to anyone looking for a place to crash.
The company notes it was “not a coincidence” that Portland, where Airbnb is opening up a large operational headquarters, was picked its “Shared City” launch location.
“Portland has a history of being a leader when it comes to urban innovation,” Chesky wrote. “Portland has long been a great home for entrepreneurs and has led the way in promoting green tech, conservation, and co-working spaces.”
The most notable commitment of “Shared City,” is the idea for Airbnb to collect taxes from hosts. That’s been an issue for the company as many public officials have criticized Airbnb for violating local regulations by not paying occupancy taxes.
“This is new for us, and if it works well for our community and cities, we may replicate this project in other U.S. cities,” Chesky said.
Airbnb has been working with Portland Mayor Charlie Hales on its “Shared City” initiative, which include other commitments that meet Portland’s needs like donating money earned from Airbnb to local causes, establishing emergency training programs and making free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors available to hosts.
Airbnb, which may be worth more than Expedia, also plans to work with Portland’s tourism office to “promote the city as a destination to our global community, highlighting its unique characteristics and diverse neighborhoods; and sending visitors to local small businesses throughout the city.”
“We are committed to enriching cities and designing the kind of world we want to live in,” wrote Chesky. “Together, let’s build that shared world city by city.”