Airbnb launches Shared City initiative in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Barely two weeks after announcing it will open a large office in Portland, room sharing startup Airbnb is working with the city on a new corporate program.

Portland is the first city for Airbnb’s Shared Cities initiative, which was unveiled by company CEO Brian Chesky on a post on medium.com. If the program is successful in Portland, it might be rolled out elsewhere.

Chesky outlines the importance of community and how the company wants to be a part of the places where it operates, but perhaps the most interesting piece of the post is this: “We’re offering to cut red tape and to collect and remit taxes to the city of Portland on behalf of our hosts. 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.”

One of the criticisms of Airbnb and the broader sharing economy is that it acts like established businesses, in this case hotels, but doesn’t operate under the same rules, such as collecting visitor taxes.

When asked for more details on this issue, a company spokeswoman noted figures highlighted in a Fortune story “are accurate as to what we are discussing with the city.”

According to Fortune, these taxes would total 11.5 percent based on what the host charges. The company would collect the tax, then pass it on to the city quarterly.

Also in the Medium post, Chesky said the company would work with the city on training hosts on how to help with disaster relief, it would offer free smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to hosts, and it would make it easier for hosts to donate earnings to local charities.

The Portland Business Journal is a KATU.com news partner.

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