Airbnb and other short term commercial homesharing websites are operating in Salem. Airbnb’s Salem website claims that 148 rooms are available in its system for the Salem area.  In light of this activity the city is drafting code changes to allow small-scale short-term commercial lodging in residential zones subject to a licensing program that is designed to preserve existing neighborhood amenities. The code revisions will be presented in a public hearing to the Salem Planning Commission at its regular meeting on March 7th at 5:30 pm in the City Council Chambers in City Hall, 555 Liberty St. SE.

Current Salem law only allows a bed and breakfast as a short-term rental in a single-family residential zone pursuant to a conditional use permit. This is a cumbersome and expensive procedure that does not provide the flexible authorization generally preferred by homeshare programs like Airbnb. As a result many current homeshare operations are not in compliance with city law. According to Bryce Bishop, the city planner heading the code revision project, the new system will allow a broader and clearer setting for commercial homesharing operations as part of a licensing program which includes other regulations designed to protect neighborhood standards and fairness with other commercial operators.

The proposed system, based on those used in other cities such as Eugene and Portland, will include annual licensing, limits on the number of rooms and guests, ownership requirements, safety standards and inspections, liability insurance, parking requirements and payment of transportation and occupancy taxes.  If accepted by the Planning commission the code revisions will go to the City Council for approval and adoption. The program could be in place by late May or June.

Further information is available on the city’s website at: City of Salem Home > Departments > Community Development > Planning > Short-term Rentals Code Amendment. Bryce Bishop can be reached at Ph: 503 540 2399, and email: bbishop@cityofsalem.net.