AIRBNB ’N’ BUSINESS
RE: Last week’s Letters to the Editor [Nov 22], in which readers responded to our story “Uber’s Bitterest City Council Foes Finally Have the Votes for a Crackdown” [News, Nov 15]. News Editor Dirk VanderHart’s piece reported that Portland City Council is taking a “harder line” against companies like Lyft and Uber—the latter of which has illegally operated in Portland and denied rides to passengers the company suspected of being city regulators. Also discussed: Airbnb, another “sharing economy” company, and one frequently criticized for depleting housing stock in Portland—a city with little housing stock to spare.
If all of Airbnb were good or all of Airbnb were bad, it would be easy to deal with this issue. But the truth is that part of Airbnb is good and part is not. Airbnb’s “private room” rentals (where the host is resident during the guest’s stay) should be encouraged and supported. These are really micro-B&Bs and do not create traffic, noise, or parking problems. At worst, they only limit the number of long-term roommate rentals. They usually offer a great value to the traveling public including friends and visiting local residents and hospitals. This is where Airbnb started and shines.
However, Airbnb’s “entire place” rentals (where the host is absent) should be treated as “vacation rentals.” These rentals create the Airbnb horror stories and irritated neighbors. These rentals convert month-to-month rentals for locals to short-term rentals for tourists so the property owner can make more money. In Portland, there are over 2,000 “entire place” listings, most of them unlicensed. Vacation rentals are not new, but have previously existed mostly in resort areas and have been heavily regulated.
There is also a grey area in between. These include accessory dwelling units, mother-in-law apartments, and vacation homes. Each city needs to decide how to regulate these based on their housing priorities.
RE: Matt Bors’ weekly editorial cartoon, which recently featured a joke about Roy Moore, the former Alabama state judge currently running for United States Senate who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault, including when several victims were underage.
I realize you hate Roy Moore’s ideology, but your latest editorial cartoon is beyond the pale of commentary. Roy Moore’s accusers are highly suspicious, considering it is only a short time until the election an—
The Mercury responds: We’re going to stop you right there, dipshit. Oh, and if anyone else wants to send us creepy, handwritten, anonymous letters defending an alleged pedophile? Don’t. Thanks in advance!
THE PUN POLICE
RE: “Around and Around (A Vinyl Column)” [Music, Nov 22], in which Senior Editor Ned Lannamann highlighted various vinyl releases available on Black Friday—including a re-release of Willie Nelson’s 1996 album Spirit, which Lannamann wrote was a “spiritual (no pun intended) sequel to his classic Red Headed Stranger.”
A pun is a JOKE that involves DIFFERENT MEANINGS of a word. Just reusing the word, or a form of it, is not funny or punny, whether intended or not. “Excuse my lazy writing”—is that what you meant to say instead of “no pun intended”?
Steven Unger, your keen analysis of Airbnb wins you the Mercury’s letter of the week—and two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater, where renting a seat for a few hours doesn’t hurt anybody! (Oh, and before we close out these letters—if anyone else wants to send us pedantic emails about puns? Don’t. Thanks in advance!)