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City code still lacks funds for B&B rules

Three weeks ago, the Tribune detailed how hundreds of Portland homeowners were illegally renting extra rooms and entire homes as short-term vacation rentals (“House rentals hide in the shadows,” Jan. 3).

The short-term rentals are illegal because Portland city code doesn’t allow for vacation rentals in residential zones, despite the proliferation of websites, such as airbnb.com and vrbo.com, intended to match out-of-town travelers with places to stay.

To solve the problem, the city would have to amend its code that allows homeowners to obtain a license or permit to rent rooms or homes short term. That would allow safety and health inspections of the rentals, and it would produce tax revenue for the city and Multnomah County in the form of uncollected nightly hotel taxes.

None of that is likely to happen anytime soon, says Eden Dabbs, spokeswoman for the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

In the past, a regulatory improvement team annually updated the zoning code, but the planning bureau budget no longer includes money for code updates. Dabbs says the bureau is seeking funds in the next budget to restart the regulatory improvement program next year.