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Cities Use Airbnb City Portal to Build Short-Term Rental Rules

Local governments, including Sacramento, Calif., and Kauai County, Hawaii, have turned to City Portal by Airbnb to develop and manage short-term rental policies and gain short-term rental market insights.

One year ago, Airbnb launched City Portal, a platform for city and local governments to provide data, tools and resources to take action on short-term rentals in their jurisdictions. Since then, 100 city partners, including Sacramento, Calif.; Miami-Dade County, Fla.; New Orleans, La.; and other cities, have started using the platform.

The way it works is cities can access the City Portal dashboard to receive data insights into short-term rental market characteristics and remitted tourist tax revenue where tax agreements have been established.

From that information, city governments can see where guests are coming from, adjust tourism marketing and develop and manage short-term rental policies and regulations.

Governments with applicable short-term rental laws can also utilize City Portal to view Airbnb listings within their registration systems.

“Since November 2020, we have fielded more than 1,000 enforcement requests from City Portal compliance tools partners,” Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy and communications, said via email.

For example, in Sacramento, City Portal has been used in implementing the city’s short-term rental registration requirement. Additionally, city officials have been able to enforce laws by taking action against listings violating the city’s regulations through the platform.

“Airbnb worked with us to integrate its City Portal into our short-term rental registration requirement,” said mayor of Sacramento, Darrell Steinberg, in a statement. “I wish other platforms would go to the lengths that Airbnb has to ensure that we have what we need to enforce our short-term rental laws.”

Kauai County, Hawaii, also similarly used the platform. “City Portal works much like a backdoor pass to Airbnb’s platform with which our enforcement team can utilize to query listings and directly access advertisements and other pertinent data,” according to Kauai County Planning Department Director Kaaina Hull.

As for the changes the platform has experienced in the past year, Lehane said that after starting with 18 pilot partners last September, the platform has grown to include 100 city partners globally.

“The City Portal was born at the height of the pandemic last September, but the product was built based on years of feedback from working with local governments,” he said. “Since 2015, Airbnb has sought to work to develop and support regulatory frameworks.”

Over that time, he added, Airbnb has helped advance more than 1,000 regulatory frameworks for short-term rentals, including in 70 percent of their top 200 geographies, and has collected and remitted over $3.4 billion in tourism taxes.

As for what comes next, Lehane said, the goal is to have more than 250 global City Portal partners by September 2022.
Katya Maruri is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.
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