Sharing Economy

Nashville Councilwoman: Deciding Who Sleeps in Your Home is a Privilege Bestowed by Government, Not a Right

You can do whatever you want on your own property, as long as the government approves.

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Richard Cummins/robertharding/Newscom

Tennessee's state legislature is considering whether to overrule local ordinances restricting how people can use short-term rentals like those available through websites like Airbnb.

As part of that process, state lawmakers on Thursday heard from local officials in cities like Nashville, which requires homeowners obtain a permit before renting their homes on Airbnb and similar websites. Nashville's regulations also cap short-term rentals at no more than 3 percent of all homes in a given neighborhood—so if 3 percent of your neighbors are listing their homes through a room-sharing service, you won't be allowed to get a permit even if you meet all the other qualifications the city has set.

That provision is already facing a legal challenge for being what it is: an arbitrary restriction on what property owners can do with the property they own.

When asked by the special state Senate committee on short term rentals to defend that policy, Nashville Metro Council Member Burkley Allen gave a glimpse into how city officials view the relationship between property owners and their government.

"To me it is a privilege to be able to do this, not a right," said Allen, who sponsored the bill that became Nashville's Airbnb ordinance. "The city of Nashville decided to grant that privilege."

That drew an immediate rebuke from state Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, who told Allen to "be real careful about saying somebody who owns a piece of property doesn't have a right to use that property how they want to."

Allen responded by claiming that the city's zoning authority gives it the power to restrict commercial business activity in residential neighborhoods.

"I think everybody agrees that we have a difference between residential and commercial, we do decide that there are rules," she said.

Green jumped in to point out that Nashville's regulations "just arbitrarily say the first 3 percent get to it and the other 97 percent don't."

Accepting money from someone in exchange for letting them sleep in your home is certainly commercial activity, but only in the broadest sense. Allowing people to rent their homes on Airbnb to make some extra cash doesn't fundamentally change a neighborhood from being a residential place to being a commerical one, at least not in the same way that building a shopping center or a big box store would. Even if it did, it would be hard to see how zoning laws could justify something like Nashville's threshold for how many homeowners can rent their property, as Green said.

Burkley had no response to that one. To her credit, she claimed earlier in the hearing that the growth of the sharing economy and Airbnb has been beneficial to Nashville (then why restrict it, one might ask).

The full hearing can be viewed here—the exchange between Allen and Green takes place about an hour and 20 minutes into it.

A tip of the hat to the Beacon Center of Tennessee, which highlighted the exchange between Allen and Green on its Facebook page.

The Beacon Center is also involved in the lawsuit challenging Nashville's limitations on short-term rentals.

The two plantiffs in the lawsuit are P.J. and Rachel Anderson, Nashville residents who rented their home on Airbnb before the city's ordinance took effect. The Andersons were unable to get a permit from the city before the 3 percent cap on short term rentals in their neighborhood was reached.

The same Nashville ordinance also prohibits any form of physical advertising—like a sign or even a sticker on a window—on homes with short-term rental permits and gives police the power to seize and inspect guest logs without a warrant. The lawsuit argues that those provisions violate the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, respectively. In August, a judge issued an injunction against those provisions of the city's roomsharing regulations.

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  1. Remember when people wanted government out of the bedroom?

    1. But did they also want them out of their spare bedroom?

      1. Specificity is important.

        1. I’m starting to think that there is a whole army of people who don’t mind if the gov’t is in their bedroom. Why else would the sheep outnumber the few well-read so?

          1. They don’t mind, but they also insist. Yes means yes, after all.

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  2. I rented a house in nashville for ~3 years. True story.

    It was nice. We sort of ruined it.

    1. Cool story, bro.

    2. That’s an odd masturbation euphemism.

    3. Well, I rented one in Nashville for 4 years! So there.

      1. (shakes fist)

        I liked Brown’s Diner. It was a 3 blocks away. We were near the corner of Blair and Belmont. But they had $1 beers and $3 burgers that were very good. I’m glad to see its still there.

        1. I lived on Acklen Ave. so I’d go down to the Belcourt Theater all the time. I also loved Mojo Grill. They had really good creole stuff like crawfish etoufee and jambalaya. It was the real deal, which is hard to find outside Louisiana. And of course Yazoo Beer, which I understand has totally blown up after I left.

      2. As a former Memphian, I hate both of you!

        Nashville is nothing but a leech that sucks in tax money from the rest of the state and spends that money on itself.

        1. Which part of town did you live in?

          I grew up in the borderlands between Raleigh and Frayser.

        2. What taxes? Not income taxes, for sure. (I love Tennessee for no income tax!)

          1. Well he could be referring to the sales tax. But overall, TN is a low tax state. So, it’s probably just more Memphis whining, which is pretty much their favorite sport. Well at least since the TN Oiler’s became the Titans and headed to Nashville. 😉

    4. Gilmore is Balko?

    5. The house, or Nashville?

      1. During my time there (the mid 1990s) the city was vastly improved. Well, except for the thousands of ex-patriate Yankees that were moving down there. But they were building like crazy (*during the ~5 years I was there they added 2 sports stadiums and renovated whole swaths of downtown) and there were jobs for everyone and the place was an economic boom.

        No, we sort of trashed the owner’s house. they were artists and the place had lots of nice little furnishing/decorative details. We were kids and we threw parties, killed the rose-garden, left keg-rings on the floor and left a bullet in one of the walls.

    6. I think I might have driven through Nashville once. Or maybe some other southern city with a bridge.

      1. Nashville has a beltway like a lot of cities do. You can drive around the entire thing in like 5 minutes, in traffic. I found that out when I missed my turn and when trying to figure out where to get off to get back there, I realized that I was already back there.

  3. then why restrict it, one might ask

    One might answer: giant, drug-fueled orgies. If you rent out your house on Airbnb there is a good chance a giant, drug-fueled orgy will take place in your home, and I for one do not want to share a neighborhood with those who participate in dope-smoking, pill-popping orgies.

    1. You prefer your orgies drug-free. Clean living is sexy!

    2. I for one do not want to share a neighborhood with those who participate in dope-smoking, pill-popping orgies

      You don’t?

      I guess it takes all sorts . . . .

      1. Maybe he just doesn’t want competition.

    3. and I for one do not want to share a neighborhood with those who participate in dope-smoking, pill-popping orgies.

      Me too, but the police won’t leave.

    4. I for one do not want to share a neighborhood with those who participate in dope-smoking, pill-popping orgies.

      I take it they forgot to invite you?

  4. Perhaps it’s time for the People to rethink why the government has the power of zoning.

    1. The people by and large seem to approve of it, so there’s that.

      1. I approve of your comment Mr. Whyrun.

  5. This is why we need a muscular defense of the 3A! Sure, they aren’t troops, but once they start in, next thing you know, Pvt. Pyle is living in your home, eating your food, and being generally helpful around the house.

    1. Gomer or Jelly Donut?

      1. Gomer would help out around the house.

  6. Indeed. As there is no alloidal title in these United States, the federal government is the ultimate landlord.

    Thanks, 5th Amendment!

      1. Pun at me at your own risk.

  7. I was with you until the last sentence.

    1. I think the last 3 paragraphs are meant to be blockquotes. What happened, Eric?

      1. Actually, all of those quotes were used previously. You just forgot to delete them from the bottom.

    2. The last three paragraphs look like there written by a different person – one who is challenged by grammar.

      1. Unlike me who is challenged by spelling.

  8. “My wife left me, my dog died, and I don’t own my own property.”

  9. I think airbnb is on much shakier ground than uber. People who don’t use uber are completely unaffected by its existence. People who don’t use airbnb don’t like to see strangers coming and going next door – and those people surely outnumber the people who DO use airbnb.

    1. Most of my neighbors are complete strangers to me. I see them coming and going all the time.

      1. Are they a different set a strangers every night?

        1. set “of”

        2. What difference does it make unless they are doing something specific to you?

    2. I’ve lived in a townhouse in downtown San Diego – hardly anyone knew who their neighbors were.

      I grew up in a middle-class suburb of Tucson – literally never saw the people who live right next door.

      I live in a suburb of a bedroom town for the local agriculture businesses – I know one neighbor rides a motorcycle and the other like to park his fucking truck on the side of my property while a third leave the damned porch light on all night shining into my bedroom. Couldn’t point any of them out in a police line-up.

      1. I don’t know my neighbor’s names but I recognize most of them and they started changing every day I might wonder what’s up.

        People who don’t hang out at HyR would probably take that further and call the cops or something. I think you underestimate the suspicions nature of norms.

      2. You seem real sociable.

        1. Oh, I am just a social butterfly.

      3. If I remember correctly you are in the Yuma area, correct? I went there last week for a dentist appointment and had lunch at Mariscos Mar Azul. Really good shrimp cocktails, I recommend it if you are into Mexican seafood.

        1. They are. They used to have a restaurant not too far from me but that closed down years ago. Sadly the seafood truck closed up shop also so if I want anything like that I have to either drive into Yuma or cross the border (and endure a two hour wait to come back).

    3. By that logic, shouldn’t government be able to regulate what friends you can have over and how often too?

      Of course, airbnb is different insofar as it falls into the “People are making an honest living! We have to do something” excuse for regulation.

      1. “They’re doing it for Profit! Ewwww!”

  10. “Allowing people to rent their homes on Airbnb to make some extra cash doesn’t fundamentally change a neighborhood from being a residential place to being a commerical one, at least not in the same way that building a shopping center or a big box store would.”

    Nope, by suggesting you even tentatively accept the principle of zoning, you’ve already conceded the underlying principle – the government can tell you what to do with your property.

    There’s no point trying to limit the principle or prevent it from being extended into new areas – that would be impure. It’s either abolish all zoning laws or do nothing. And since zoning laws are popular you can’t repeal them, therefore we should do nothing to defend property rights. QED.

    Anyway, the people who want to rent out their houses are Bad People who will let their guests have drug-fueled orgies, so there’s no point spending precious political resources defending them.

    /sarc

    1. I think we should start doing what progs do and just connect everything to global warming. Zoning laws cause global warming.

      There’s actually a better case for than most of the things they try to blame for it. Zoning laws limit density, encourage gratuitous building and transportation and therefore excessive fossil fuel consumption.

      1. I actually agree with this in a sense.

        You know how Christianity has consistently been lambasted with ‘If God is omnipotent and good, why does evil exist?” for centuries? Well, it’s dead simple to turn it around such that either the AGW Gods don’t know jack shit and/or really don’t care about optimizing outcomes. The big difference being that; God’s Will is synonymous with unknown universal probabilities, while the will of AGW combatants is pretty clearly scientists who’d rather play white knight and tilt at windmills that will stop turning of their own accord hundreds of years down the road rather than actually solving real tough problems in the here and now that would benefit us measurably now and forever.

        Compared to carbon taxes the world over, getting Airbnb in Nashville without having to arrest everyone for drug-fueled orgies and without bringing about the apocalypse ought to be a piece of cake.

        1. You know those super computers that crunch through untold amounts of temperature data? Shouldn’t it be easy to come up with thousands of different models of regulation, low-cost private rental, and drug-fueled orgies and find the optimal scenario for everyone.

          Sure, you might have to add a rider on the rental boilerplate that says drug-fueled orgies are the exception, not the norm. And you might have to refrain from having a drug-fueled orgy one floor above a place of business or within plain view of an elementary school or place of worship. But private rentals will still happen, drug-fueled orgies will still happen, and people can generally rest-assured that their values and the property that they effect them over will not be disregarded.

    2. Anyway, the people who want to rent out their houses are Bad People who will let their guests have drug-fueled orgies, so there’s no point spending precious political resources defending them.

      I can see I’m having an effect on you, Eddo. I have penetrated your mind. I’m deep in side you.

        1. On the other hand, it’s CG, so it merely sounds nightmarish, not gay.

          1. That’s a good question. Is polymorphic polyamorism gay?

    3. Gubmints find that zoning laws are very convenient because they override common law methods of dealing with problems like a chemical factory opening up in a preexisting residential area, which allows the government the power to grant exceptions where otherwise preexisting homeowners could litigate to protect their property from harm. A natural sort of zoning, one that would only place easements on activities that could directly be shown to cause harm to neighboring property owners if the affected owner has standing. Building your residential neighborhood around a preexisting chemical plant would mean you have no standing.

      1. Tokyo (and I take it Japan as a whole) has a great way of handling zoning.

        Since zoning *should* only be used for nuisance abatement, areas are zoned for the *maximum level of nuisance* that is allowed. What you actually build there is of no concern.

        So you could by a couple of adjacent lots in an existing residential area, doze them, and put up a small hotel or store without further interference.

        1. Building your residential neighborhood around a preexisting chemical plant would mean you have no standing.

          And I’d like to have shoved that down the throat of an XO I once had in Italy. He moved in to a place next to a local nightclub and then bitched about the noise. Then got a curfew for the American sailors there instituted and then increased the SP requirements so that the ship could always have a pair hanging out around the place.

      2. Building your residential neighborhood around a preexisting chemical plant would mean you have no standing.

        Tell that to people who run airports and rifle ranges.

  11. Pedant alert: 2nd last paragraph: “I’d be real care about…”
    When, pray tell, did care become an adjective?

    1. Damn millenials, always shortening words.

      Did the same damn thing to “suspect”.

  12. This could work to my advantage. How much to bribe a government official so they declare that Kate Upton must stay at my place?

    1. It has to be higher than the bribe Kate Upton would have to pay to never be within a mile of you.

      1. Fusionist found out the hard way…

  13. Allen responded by claiming that the city’s zoning authority gives it the power to restrict commercial business activity in residential neighborhoods.

    Next up, the city will prohibit people from putting a “For Sale” sign on their car in their driveway, and require them to take it to a licensed car dealer.

    After that, the city will prohibit people from holding garage sales, and require them to, etc.

    And don’t get them started on home offices or telecommuting!

    1. For that matter, isn’t buying or selling a house commercial activity?

      New law: you must transport your house to a commercial area to sell it; then the buyer must move it back to the residential area to live in it. Sounds reasonable.

    2. I’m not sure if this is sarcasm or not. Because I had a neighbor complain to me once about my having a car for sale in my driveway, and when I told them to get bent the next call I got was from the city. Additionally most cities around here require a permit to have a yard sale. I’m not sure how well enforced it is, but it is on the books in case a neighbor complains. Just like the subject of the article, it comes down to engaging in commercial activity without government permission. Freedom means asking permission and obeying orders.

    3. Our city requires us to get a permit to hold a garage sale, and the permit no. must be displayed on any signs we put up. I thought I saw a camel nose…

  14. The premise here is totally wrong.

    You don’t own your property.

    The government does.

    Stop paying property taxes rent to the government and then tell me who owns it.

    1. I’d literally give my left nut for an allodial property title.

      1. I’d give your left nut for alloidal title, too.

      2. You know who else had only one nut remaining?

        1. General Franco?

        2. A lazy squirrel at the end of winter?

        3. The Republican Presidential Candidate Pool?

        4. Lance Armstrong?

        5. The CEO of Uniball Corp?

        6. Lightening McQueen?

        7. Half an Almond Joy candy bar?

    2. You didn’t build that.

  15. MAMA BEAR: “Who’s been sleeping in my bed?”

    GOLDILOCKS: “Me! Papa Bear let me in!”

    PAPA BEAR: “Shut up, blondie, I never saw you before in my life.”

    1. GOLDILOCKS: “Rape.”

  16. If it violates the 4th amendment to require unwarranted logbook inspections, could that be expanded to cover FFL logbooks? IIRC, having a (non-C&R) FFL requires you open your logbooks and premises to inspections at the will of the government.

    1. When you get a license to do something, you waive your rights. That’s just part of the deal.

      1. Here the homeowners are getting a license to sign up with Airbnb. What’s the difference?

  17. And the talk about zoning for residential vs. commercial is fucking stupid when it comes to renting.

    So if a place is zoned residential I can’t sell the house or buy it? That would be commerce. I can’t rent out a house or rent it from someone else? That would be commerce. And if I can rent a house why can’t I do it for a weekend instead of a year?

    Zoning is a dumb reason/excuse.

    1. Are you crazy? Imagine how fat poor people will get if it becomes legal to build a McDonals next to a tenement? They’re like goldfish; they don’t know when they’re not hungry anymore, they’ll just stuff Big Macs diwn their throats until their stomachs rupture.

    2. Because Hotels. Airbnb is the equivalent to Hotels as food trucks are to restaurants and Uber is to cabs. Is yer cronyism detector brokeded?

      1. I’m just saying they need to find a new excuse.

  18. Maybe this is just an American cultural thing I don’t get…

    But what’s up with the giant Fishing Pyramid in Nashville? Is fucking Rick Clunn embalmed in a sarcophagus there, surrounded by fishing trophies and the bodies of former attendants?

    1. Illuminati, straight up.

      Learn to read the signs.

      1. See, my second guess was that it’s a new parking lot for the Anunnaki.

    2. More a certain-regions-of-America thing.

    3. Pretty sure that’s in Memphis…

      1. Yeah, you’re right, I’m a filthy foreigner, anything in Tennessee is very “Here Be Dragons” to me.

        1. Of course now the pyramid thing makes a bit more sense, cause Memphis. It’s still dumb though.

          1. You should dig into its history. So dumb.

    4. Pretty sure that’s in Memphis…

      1. You know who went walking in Memphis?

        1. The pharaoh Menes?

        2. James Earl Ray?

    5. You know where else has a pyramid?

      1. USDA headquarters?

      2. Silent Hill?

      3. Memphis Giza?

    6. It’s where Tennessee storees it grain.

    7. It was originally a basketball arena. Bass Pro Shops bought it and turned it into a (fairly interesting) store.

    8. Um. That’s Memphis.

  19. “Nashville Councilwoman gives residents the Nashville Skyline”

  20. I’m in real estate and I had an argument with my boss over zoning. He basically said that was the deal when the government gave us the land whenever. I was actually shocked. I know i have to deal with zoning idiots, but we shouldn’t just accept that it is okay.

    Okay, so yes the government sold land and had grants, but zoning has been used repeatedly to keep out undesirables.

    1. maybe he can explain how “the govt” acquired this land that it has so generously given us.

  21. Am I the only one for whom it’s very easy to feel like everyone in government is a controlling sociopathic fuckstick?

    1. What part of “majority rule” do you not understand?

  22. I think everybody agrees that we have a difference between residential and commercial, we do decide that there are rules.

    Do you *even* libertarian, brah?

    1. This takes me back to my junior high days. I got called to the principal’s office on the first day of school, like a lot of other students did, to be told there’s a dress code and I needed a hair cut. Yes, those actually existed back then. I had the audacity to ask the vice principal who was my interrogator and obviously oppressor, ‘why’? The shocked look on his face was priceless. He just glared at me for a few moments, turned purple, and then spluttered out ‘because we have to have rules and regulations!’. Man, that guy must be at least a state senator by now.

  23. I think everybody agrees that we have a difference between residential and commercial, we do decide that there are rules.

    For values of “everyone agrees” where many people don’t agree?

  24. Private property?!? You don’t need no steeenkin private property…!

  25. The ONLY response to this officious twat is “FUCK OFF, SLAVER,” followed by loud and public shaming.

  26. Even Nashville is not immune from the communist menace.

  27. At least get the facts straight so the discussion is accurate. The cap is on non-owner occupied homes. If you live in your home you can can a permit. There are no STRP permits caps on owner occupied homes in Nashville. DADUs (garage apartments for example) do not count towards the cap either. And the government does tell you what you can do with your home via zoning. I can’t, for example, build a garage apartment on my property because of the way it’s zoned. I would like to, and many people in Nashville can, but that’s a different discussion.

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  29. Yo go Blu! Late to the party, but still brought snacks! The argument in favor of a cap is intended to support MYOB principles that are consistent with residential use of residential property. Transient use or short-term use is not the same as residential use. Rents are different for short-term. A spare bedroom of a dwelling where the owner is keeping an eye on things is different that a 3-story apartment building turned into short-term units.

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