Thanks in large part to the success of online platforms like Airbnb, the market for short-term housing rentals (STRs) has grown rapidly in recent years. While the market has grown, however, so too has the concern that STRs are altering communities, impacting housing values, and making it more challenging for long-term renters to find housing options they can afford. As a result, local governments have sought to establish sensible short-term rental ordinances and provide solutions that simplify digital permitting, automate compliance monitoring, and collect critical tax revenue. Hood River, Oregon, was able to navigate the complex issues associated with the sharing economy through the implementation of Host Compliance by Granicus.
Great outdoors vs. great indoors: Hood River’s housing crunch
With its picturesque views and numerous local attractions, Hood River, Oregon, has long been a destination for outdoor enthusiasts as well as couples seeking to get married within the beauty of its scenic landscape. While a boon to the city’s economy, increased tourism has yielded a growth in demand for STRs, which was inadvertently creating a housing shortage and frustrating community residents.
While the city government strove to address constituents’ concerns and accommodate visitors, limited resources and a time-consuming manual process hamstrung its efforts. City employees relied on residents to report disruptive party houses, and regulation was inconsistent. In addition, as STRs proliferated, available housing stock began to dwindle, pricing many long-term residents out of the area. Hood River officials began seeking a technology solution that would enable them to rein in the STR listings and prevent housing costs from skyrocketing, while continuing to accommodate tourists and STR operators and preserving the unique character of the city. In addition, they sought to improve neighborhood comfort and safety by establishing enforceable STR guidelines.
Automation Treats All STR Operators Equally
Hood River discovered that Host Compliance provided a solution to their community’s needs that was not only regulatory and technical in nature, but social as well. It equipped the city with a more impersonal means for addresses to be easily identified, when in the past it would be impractical to commit the necessary resources to find and notify non-compliant properties without an initial complaint being filed.
“With Host Compliance, I love that there’s no undertone of snooping or neighbors tattling on each other for code enforcement issues. It’s just an automated system that finds listings via search, so it’s not personal or invasive. The system treats all STR operators equally.”
Will Norris, Finance Director/Interim City Manager, City of Hood River
No More Flying Under the Radar
In a community where tension regarding STRs was on the rise, Host Compliance was able to put an end to the ingrained suspicion that arose by residents associating code enforcement violations as being the result of one another’s complaints.
“It makes it feel less personal and invasive…when they feel like it was just a computer that found them rather than some individual searching them out.”
Furthermore, the objective nature of Host Compliance may have eliminated any reluctance by residents to comply with regulations that were originally enacted to be a solution to the similar concerns they shared. In fact, Hood River says that their first series of warning letters saw resident complaints seemingly vanish overnight. No longer could residents believe they could take a chance by flying under the radar. In turn, Hood River saw a significant rise in taxes being paid by those seeking a STR license.