Most popular example of short-term renting is via Airbnb, of which there are 40 participants in Gresham

Gresham City Council is mulling how to deal with the short-term rental market, popularized by services like Airbnb, after its meeting Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 13.

Considerations include the best way to implement and collect taxes on the private rental options and how to regulate the system.

"I want to engage the community on this issue and make sure we take our time," said Councilor David Widmark.

Widmark understands the system, as he has a short-term rental property in Gearhart on the Oregon coast. That city took two years to come up with its practices, and while most councilors agreed on a quicker process, Widmark stressed the importance of looping the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce and Neighborhood Associations into any discussions.

So far there has been a limited demand of short-term rentals in Gresham, though staff said that number could grow in the future. More than 90 percent of the market is owned by Airbnb, Expedia and Trip Advisor.

According to Airbnb, from October 2016 to October 2017, there were 40 hosts serving about 2,100 guests. About 23 percent of the hosts in Gresham are older than 60, and the average stay is for three nights with a group of 2.4 people.

The average amount brought in yearly by a Gresham Airbnb host is about $6,600. By not having a tax system on short-term rentals in place, the city missed out on about $18,000 last year. During their discussions the councilors agreed collecting that revenue was a step in the right direction, and could be done via the state, hosting platforms or city staff.

"If we are going to do this, we need to have a tax and codes in place," said Council President Kirk French.

As for regulation, the discussion was whether to continue treating short-term rentals like bed and breakfasts or developing new specific code. The focus would be on protecting housing availability, neighborhood preservation, economic development and safety.

"We need to ask, 'What does it mean to our community to have more of this?'" said Councilor Karylinn Echols.

With input from the council, city staff will now work on developing a new system for short-term rentals.

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