Assessing and Responding to Short-Term Rentals in Oregon: Enabling the Benefits of the Sharing Economy
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Assessing and Responding to Short-Term Rentals in Oregon: Enabling the Benefits of the Sharing Economy Local, regional, and state governments across the country struggle to manage the impacts of short-term rentals (STRs), and the sharing economy more generally. Often referred to as vacation rentals, STRs are not new to the housing market yet, in the last decade, technology has greatly influenced their prevalence. Private, web-based businesses such as Airbnb, VRBO, HomeToGo, LUXbnb, CouchSurfing, HomeAway, FlipKey, and VaCasa, have given people access to a user-friendly, global marketplace for home sharing. As the sharing economy proliferates, STRs have often flown under the radar of government taxation and regulation. Accordingly, many perceived negative impacts of STRs exist including the loss of tax revenue and impacts on traditional lodging businesses, neighborhoods, housing affordability, and housing availability. Still, the widespread use of these platforms show evidence of many localized benefits. Some of these benefits include allowing property owners to earn income by renting out their unused space, offering tourists an experience that is more unique, and among others, driving visitors to places not conventionally accessible for tourists (spurring economic activity in new areas and communities). Because this economic activity, as it used today, is a relatively new phenomenon, existing research is sparse and tends to focus on large/mega cities. Thus, this research fills an important gap by focusing on small, tourism-oriented towns in Oregon. We address the following research questions in this paper: 1) What is the prevalence and characteristics of short-term rentals in Oregon? 2) What is the revenue potential of short-term rentals in Oregon? 3) What are the existing perceptions around short-term rentals in Oregon? 4) How are short-term rentals currently being regulated in Oregon? 5) To what extent do short-term rentals compete with long-term rentals? To examine the prevalence of short-term rentals, we rely on city-level data from AirBnB and property-specific data from AirDnA, for cities under 100,000 in population. We also use American Community Survey data to examine the share of total housing units and vacant units with short-term rentals. To understand the positive and negative impacts and the regulatory environment, we rely on a survey administered to city managers and city planners. This work provides timely and valuable information to small and mid-sized cities regarding a recent trend affecting housing. Planners and city staff need to understand how short-term rentals are affecting their communities and respond with appropriate regulatory controls.