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The City of Portland, Oregon

Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

Promoting open and accountable government

Effect of short-term rentals on housing crisis unknown

 Despite concerns about the effect of short-term rentals on housing availability and affordability, the City of Portland does not collect data needed to regulate these rentals and monitor the housing market.

Since the City began regulating short-term rentals in 2014, the number has more than doubled. The intent of regulations was that homes should be used primarily for residential rather than commercial purposes, but the City’s current approach cannot assure this. Most hosts do not obtain the required permits: only an estimated 22 percent of properties are permitted, and the City rarely enforces its regulations.

City bureaus’ ability to enforce the regulations is limited by the lack of data about short-term rental activity, including listings and their hosts, and how often and for how long listings are rented. Of approximately 15 booking agents active in Portland, none regularly provide data to the City. The Auditor’s Office used information gathered by a third party to provide an overview of Portland’s short-term rental market. Visual representations of this data can be found on the City Auditor’s website.

To effectively regulate the short-term rental market, the audit recommends the Bureau of Development Services and Revenue Division obtain data on hosts, listings, and occupancy from booking agents or from other publicly available sources. The Housing Bureau should use this data to monitor the effect of short-term rentals on the housing market.

Responses to the audit from Mayor Wheeler, Commissioner Eudaly, Bureau of Development Services, Housing Bureau and the Office of Management and Finance are included in the report. 

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We're hiring! Apply by July 16

We're hiring! graphicThe City Auditor's Office is recruiting applicants for two positions: Business Operations Manager and Management Analyst. The deadline to apply is July 16, 2018.

The Business Operations Manager will be instrumental in implementing recent Charter changes that made the Auditor administratively independent of the Mayor, City Council, and City bureaus. The Business Operations Manager will oversee the Auditor’s newly authorized powers that pertain to human resources, procurement, and budgeting; is responsible for ensuring compliance with federal and state laws and the Auditor’s administrative rules; and must protect the independence of the Auditor’s Office.

The Business Operations Manager supervises Auditor’s Office staff responsible for budget, finance, accounting, timekeeping, procurement, human resources and other administrative services. The Manager also supervises the Elections Officer and staff responsible for the Lobbyist and Political Consultant Registration programs. It is anticipated the Manager will assume broader supervisory responsibilities in the future. Apply here:   


The Auditor's Independent Police Review is recruiting applicants for a Management Analyst. Responsibilities for this position include analyzing, maintaining, and reporting trend and other data related to police misconduct complaints and commendations. The Management Analyst provides quantitative analyses that form the basis of policy reviews and recommendations made by the Auditor's Office to improve policing in Portland. The Management Analyst also prepares regular internal and external reports, ensures data integrity in the case management system, and assists with the development of dashboards.

Experience with data visualization and innovative reporting techniques, writing SQL queries, policy analysis, or performance measurement is preferred by not required. Apply here:


The Auditor’s Office promotes open and accountable government by conducting independent and impartial audits and investigations and providing access to public information. It employs 52 full-time equivalent staff who work in eight divisions in three locations. 

The Auditor’s Office values a diverse workforce and seeks ways to foster a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion in delivering public services and everyday interactions in the workplace. The Auditor encourages candidates with experience working with a broad range of individuals and diverse communities to apply.

Remembering Robert Cowan

Robert Cowan

Auditor's Office staff joined with family and friends of our colleague, Robert Cowan, to celebrate a life well-lived. Robert worked in the Auditor's Office for 29 of the 31 years he was employed by the City of Portland. He died on Memorial Day of complications from pancreatic cancer. Our condolences are with Robert's spouse, Sherman Bucher, and Robert's extended family.

Robert, 61, joined Audit Services in 1989 after short stints in other City departments starting in 1987. Prior to coming to the City, he worked as a U.S. Navy public affairs specialist/journalist for four years with assignments in print, broadcasting and public information in Australia and Hawaii. He also spent time in the trust banking field and ran a part-time administrative and design consulting business for three years. Robert worked with staff in Audit Services to produce reports for publication and coordinate media and public information requests.

Robert was honored by family, friends, and colleagues at a memorial service June 19, 2018, followed by interment at Willamette National Cemetery. Find photos of the service here:


City should set priorities for arts and culture, improve contract oversight

The City should ensure that the work of the Regional Arts and Culture Council is aligned with City priorities and improve oversight of its $8.3 million contract with the not-for-profit organization, according to an audit my office released on Tuesday.

The City has contracted with the Arts Council for more than 20 years. The Arts Council is a regional organization, and its responsibilities include strategic planning and policy development for arts and culture. The Arts Council administers grants and arts education programs and is the steward of the City’s public art collection.

In 2017, the City provided the Arts Council with $8.3 million, more than 70 percent of the Arts Council’s budget. The City’s current contract with the Arts Council expires in June 2018, and City staff are considering changes to it.

Auditors found that risks exist because the City does not have clear goals for arts and culture, the Arts Council needs to articulate its strategy and regional role, and the City’s contract and oversight of it needs improvement.

We discussed our audit in a work session with City Council and the Arts Council’s interim Director, Jeff Hawthorne on Tuesday.

Celebrate Jewel Lansing Day

Invitation to Jewel Lansing DayJewel Lansing is being honored for her contributions as a trailblazer for women in elective office and a pioneer in government accountability. She served as Multnomah County Auditor from 1975 to 1982 and as Portland City Auditor from 1983 through 1986. Jewel was one of the first two women elected to Multnomah County government and was the fifth elected to Portland government. She introduced performance auditing to both jurisdictions, which focuses on how well operations and programs are performing.

Join Mayor Ted Wheeler for the proclamation declaring Jewel Lansing Day, Wednesday, March 23 at 10:30 a.m. in the City Council Chamber. Afterward, you can stroll by the newly named Jewel Lansing Conference Room on the first floor between Rooms 130 and 140.