Portland approves yearly $60-per-unit landlord fee — Portland’s mayor and commissioners on Wednesday adopted an annual $60-per-unit fee for landlords, saying the charge is necessary to collect better data about the city’s rental market but igniting fears the cost would be passed down to tenants. The fee is to help fund the city’s renter services office, according to a government analysis. The city office enforces fair-housing laws, mediates landlord-tenant disputes and maintains a registry of rental units. That registry is a key initiative that officials such as Mayor Ted Wheeler say is important to inform city housing policy. The cost of living in Portland has escalated in recent years, leading the City Council to declare an emergency and pass “tenant protection” laws. The City Council first approved the registry last year, but there was no fee attached and landlords’ compliance by noting their rental units on tax documents was optional. More than 17,100 units have been registered under the voluntary scheme and thousands more registrations are pending. The remaining units subject to the ordinance are expected to generate as much as $3.9 million a year for the renter office.
Person bitten by rabid bat at Breitenbush — Public health officials are warning residents to be careful after a person was bitten by a rabid bat southeast of Salem in the Breitenbush area. The Statesman Journal reports health officials said the person was bitten on Saturday, but declined to say exactly where the incident happened. The victim captured the bat and brought it to the Marion County Health Department. The bat was sent to Oregon State University for testing, which confirmed it was infected with rabies. Breitenbush, an unincorporated community about 10 miles east of Detroit, includes the Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center and a group of privately owned vacation homes. This year, three other bats have tested positive for rabies in Oregon.
$1 million in damages for Columbia River oil spill — A proposed consent decree filed in court says a historic luxury hotel in Astoria and a private estate would pay nearly $1 million in damages to the government for cleanup of oil that spilled into the Columbia River from a fuel tank beneath a partially collapsed pier. A government complaint says between Jan. 12 and March 7, 2018, the U.S. Coast Guard responded to reports of bunker fuel oil discharges into the river from a 3,300-gallon steel storage tank beneath a pier downstream from the Cannery Pier Hotel. Under the decree filed Tuesday, Cannery Pier Hotel and the estate of Robert H. Jacob, the owner of the hotel who died in September, would pay $994,146 to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Coast Guard. The parties have signed the decree, and it awaits approval by a federal judge in Portland.