Airbnb picks Portland as first ‘Shared City’ in effort to address tax issues, encourage livability

techtownportland

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-PortlandAirbnb 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.”

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky.

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.

Fortune notes that it would be up to hosts in Portland to pay Airbnb the 11.5 percent occupancy tax that other hotels and vacation rentals are required by law in Portland to shell out.

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.”

  • Guest

    Love this quote from Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky: “Following the law is new for us, and if it works well for our community and cities, we may follow the law in other cities.” Are they planning to follow all the laws in Portland, or just the ones that are convenient?

    What is it with rich Silicon Valley startups that they think they are above the law?

    • Please Quote Correctly

      You do realize we can just scroll up, and see how blatantly you misquoted him, right? He said “THIS is new for us…” Not in reference to following the law, but in reference to the “shared city initiative.”

      I’m not defending people who don’t pay taxes, but you will make a better case if you don’t manipulate the quote to your liking. Isn’t that type of “above the law” behaviour you are criticizing?

  • Jeff McDonald

    Looking forward to seeing rents rise for people who actually want to live in Portland. Maybe I can start spending $70 a night for my 240 sq studio in downtown Portland. This company talks about sharing, but really is just about greed.

  • ClaimsAdjuster

    It will be up to hosts to pay the occupancy tax? That means it won’t get paid.