Portland’s housing committee will ask the City Council to order a six-month moratorium on new short-term rentals in non-owner-occupied homes.

The committee proposed the moratorium during a meeting and public hearing Thursday regarding a raft of proposed amendments to tighten Portland’s short-term rental rules.

Committee members were poised to debate and vote on changes Thursday, but Chairwoman Jill Duson delayed deliberations because Councilor Pious Ali, a committee member, was unable to attend the meeting.

A moratorium was needed, members agreed, because city staff believes the number of non-owner-occupied rentals advertised on online home-sharing sites such as Airbnb may exceed the 300-unit cap on mainland Portland that was established by the 2017 short-term rental ordinance.

Landlords in multi-unit buildings have been allowed to register more than one apartment in their building as owner-occupied and not breach the limit. City staff thought there were only 125 non-owner-occupied units, but now believe there may be as many as 320 units.

New amendments to the short-term rental ordinance proposed by Mayor Ethan Strimling, councilors Kim Cook and Belinda Ray, and city staff are aimed at preventing the spread of non-owner-occupied rentals that have been blamed for taking long-term housing off the market and adding to Portland’s affordable housing crisis. Proposals also included stricter registration requirements.

More than a dozen short-term rental owners and advocates criticized the proposed changes during the public hearing Thursday. Some said they felt like short-term rentals were a scapegoat for Portland’s broader affordability issues driven by rising living standards and other factors.

Others, like Scott Lindsay, the owner of four short-term rentals in the Old Port, said they felt betrayed by elected officials. He was registering his units and following the rules to the letter and now felt like he had to come out and fight for his position all over again, Lindsay said.

“I am so frustrated and shocked,” he told the committee. “It seems to be everything is on the table again. It is awful.”

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

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Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire