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  • 27 May 2015

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Lodging taxes won't go to affordable housing

The Portland City Council rejected a bid by Commissioner Dan Saltzman on Wednesday to dedicate all taxes collected from the city’s new short-term rental ordinance to affordable housing projects.

Saltzman and Commissioner Nick Fish proposed directing the 5% city lodging tax now being collected from Airbnb hosts into the Housing Investment Fund, starting with the next budget cycle.

Fish said there is a logical reason to support affordable housing with the tax money, because encouraging Airbnb-style short-term rentals in Portland will inevitably lead to the loss of affordable housing.

But Mayor Charlie Hales and commissioners Amanda Fritz and Steve Novick turned down the proposed ordinance.

Hales said he supports putting more money into low-income housing, doesn’t want to tie the hands of city budget writers by dedicating a new revenue source to housing.

“I don’t want this council to be tied down like Gulliver with this string and this little string,” Hales said, evoking an image from “Gulliver’s Travels.”

Dana Haynes, Hales’ spokesman, said the issue will surely come up again in some form. “I think this will be part of the conversation for the next budget,” Haynes said after the council vote.

Steve Law can reached at 503-546-5139 or stevelaw@portlandtribune.com.

Twitter: @SteveLawTrib

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