Privacy Miniaturized

I’m writing an article about the proliferation of short-term rentals and legislation regulating them in Pa, —y’know, home-sharing, as the IRS calls it . I touched on this a bit in my post “you will own nothing”. But what I wanna ask your opinion on tonight is privacy itself. Why do people not care about complete strangers staying a night or two in their homes? I mean sheesh, my BMD cant stand having houseguests and these are friends!

Here’s my idea: you no longer need physical space for privacy, you only need a Couple square inches of technology! Your secret, intimate propensities can now be accommodated on your IPad or cell phone.
Like, before, if you were into porn you might not want anybody discovering your stash of videos or…I guess magazines? If you were a fetishist you wouldn’t want anybody blundering into the closet where you keep your particular paraphernalia. People hadda have, like, a prop room. In my case, this house is jammed with books—but they’re a relic of my voracious bibliophile past: I almost never buy a codex now, when I can instantly summon any text to my hand! I have over 1000 books in my Kindle.
Even in the early days of “personal computers”
, the machines themselves were a thing you’d want to keep locked away. Remember those horror stories about a painter or plumber “accidentally” noticing child porn on somebody’s desk computer? But now they’re small enough to carry wherever you go, no need to leave them unattended.
Of course, whatever you view, read, or write online is NOT really private or secure. But it feels that way, when you’re alone with the glowing little screen.
It’s my theory that the individual need and desire for physical space—which I would have thought was basic to humanity— has been superannuated, obliterated by these compact devices. To some extent, they are now the space in which we actually live.
Whaddya think dear polymaths?


It would probably be better to modify that sentence to “Why do some people not care ….”

I can’t answer because I do not know any such people. But we all understand there are exhibitionists and loud-mouths and various other types who may enjoy having an audience to whom they can play.

Back to what is probably the best explanation for all kinds of irrational human behavior – we are herd animals. Tell people they need an experimental gene therapy to counter a disease with a low mortality rate akin to the flu, and most of us will willingly stand in the driving rain to comply. If the herd is moving in the direction of opening their homes to complete strangers, many of us will go along. And those of us who don’t will be seen by the herd as “odd” at best.


It may be simpler than you imagine. There is a spectrum of privacy needs among us, and maybe there’s more than we think that just don’t care that much and are willing to share space. Your BMD is on the end of the spectrum where fish and guests live together, and are not welcome for long. As much as I do admire attempts to blame the proliferation of small screens for most societal ills, this privacy issue is a stretch for me. Never discount plain ole greed, either! It’s become too easy to find a match for unique individual needs and preferences, mebbe.

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I suggest a simpler explanation is that most people need the money and this trend is, in fact, a return to the days of the boarding house. Services like Airbnb unlock the opportunity to make ends meet and personal privacy is a relatively small price to pay.

The book of knowledge (source) shares some statistics from the 19th century

Boarding houses were common in most US cities throughout the 19th century and until the 1950s.[3] In Boston, in the 1830s, when landlords and their boarders were added up, between one-third and one-half of the city’s entire population lived in a boarding house.[3] Boarding houses ran from large, purpose-built buildings down to “genteel ladies” who rented a room or two as a way of earning a little extra money.[[3]]

And in fact, Airbnb’s origin story is quite similar (source)

In 2007, a cash-strapped Brian Chesky came up with a shrewd way to pay his $1,200 San Francisco apartment rent. He would offer “Air bed and breakfast”, which consisted of three airbeds, breakfast, WiFi and a desk to work, to attendees of the Industrial Design Conference, who needed a place to crash over the weekend.

The difference might be that services like Airbnb are transforming from incidental need to make ends meet to single hosts running a portfolio with multiple listings that often skirt regulations imposed on traditional hotels. This is particularly the case with high demand locations, like NYC, etc.

From the same website

  • Airbnb generated $8.3 billion in revenue in 2022, a 40% year-on-year increase
  • Airbnb has 200 million users, though that number has not been updated since 2020
  • In 2022, 393 million bookings were made on Airbnb, a 31% increase on 2021
  • There were 6.6 million listings on Airbnb, run by four million hosts
  • Over half a billion guests have stayed in an Airbnb home, earning the hosts $65 billion
  • 60% of Airbnb’s userbase are millennials

So when you stitch together stagnant wages with the growing size of houses over the last 100 years (source), short-term rentals are a valuable complement to help families make ends meet.

US-wide, homes built in the last 6 years are 74% larger than those built in the 1910s , an increase of a little over 1,000 square feet. The average new home in America, be it condo or house, now spreads over 2,430 square feet. It is also important to note that, parallel to the rise in living space, households have been getting smaller over the same period. In 2015, the average number of people in a household is 2.58, compared to 4.54 in 1910. This means that today the average individual living in a newly built home in the US enjoys 211% more living space than their grandparents did, 957 square feet in total — which also means a higher property taxes burden as well.


That about increasing home size is really interesting, something I didn’t know.

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The funny thing about this is the effect regulation seems to have had. In 2019 our state Supreme Court ruled that STRs like AirBnB were not a use permitted as of right in single family residential zones as those are traditionally defined. . Before that, in an area like the Poconos, people had been routinely doing it with their summer cabins on a large scale, but NOTHING like what has happened since our township, and a host of others, passed an ordinance regulating and licensing them. The township has made a tremendous amount of money collecting licensing fees, and now HOAs are scrambling to get into the act. It’s not a good thing IMHO, it will drive up home prices, and dont even think about hiring a house cleaner now, they can make a fortune with the short term rental places.

I come down on the side of property rights. I think the case before our Supreme Court woulda gone differently if the landowner hadn’t gotten fed up and dropped out before the appeal was prosecuted. Owner should be able to use their land in any way they want; if they create a nuisance, call the police, not the zoning officer. But that’s just me.


I have a similar view… it’s up to the homeowner how he/she wants to use the property and as long as it’s not a nuisance to others, it should not be anyone’s business.

Modern HOAs - at least in the South - seem to be going through a consolidation phase in the past 10 years or so where massive regional and multi-state corporate entities are buying up HOAs by the hundreds. Since there is no way out of these bylaws for ordinary homeowners afflicted with the curse of the HOA in their neighborhoods, there are more and more ridiculous changes being pushed.

I’ve always been puzzled why attorneys are not targeting HOAs - I speculate is they stand to make more money supporting HOAs rather than fighting them :wink:

My take regarding STR pushback is that traditional hospitality has woken up and realized they need to fight back and they’re pulling all the lobbying stops needed to squash the growth of Airbnb and similar services. This is great for local jurisdictions as well that have been waking up to missing on hotel taxes and other predatory practices they had successfully used on traditional hospitality businesses, who are glad to pass it through to their customers. Not to mention the small armies of “rat poop inspectors” that need to stay busy inspecting properties, etc.


I haven’t seen much in the news lately about the mal_Administration’s plans - à la Obama - to eliminate one family zoning. The absence of news worries me about what may be happening on that front quietly. While many communities are using up their energy fighting this relatively minor battle (in comparison), our betters are busy designing low-income high rises, and all that brings along with it, to install next door to $1million Mc Mansions. They will not likely fail to follow through on this “equity” effort. Anyone know more? Hypatia?


Betsy McCaughey, who actually reads these things, says the money for Bygone’s “infrastructure” legislation is primarily going to eliminate single family zoning. Oregon and, I think California have done it, and Connecticut is under pressure to do so. So yuh, they’re doin it.
I know you read my article “Deed Men Walkin’:Can HOAs save single Family Zoning?” I’m now in a position to answer my own question: they could, but they arent going to.


HOAs derive their power from a private contractual relationship voluntarily entered into. If you don’t like their covenants and restrictions, don’t buy a property in that development.

But, nationwide we may be approaching contract-of-adhesion territory; it’s difficult to buy a new home that isn’t part of a “planned community” and subject to such restrictions.


Breaking news! I just heard NYC Mayor Adam’s say that, when they have filled up “faith based spaces” to house illegal immigrants, they will billet them in private homes! Yeah—so you may like the idea of choosing your short term renters, but, вs was done with NY hotels, maybe some state or local govt will kick out your vetted paying guests and make you house illegals! And if you’ve already given up your privacy for income, then it would be illegal discrimination for you to say you WONT accommodate the illegals. Oh we re so screwed…


Maybe this will finally trigger some Third Amendment jurisprudence. I would allege the so-called immigrants are, since illegally present in fact, soldiers of a foreign power. Since there is no declared war, the Third Amendment clearly makes their forced housing in private homes un-Constitutional.


According to the Washington Times:

Following up on the latest effort to place a growing number of migrants in houses of worship, the mayor said he wants to go beyond that solution by paying local homeowners and landlords.

He said moving asylum seekers into private homes would be a progression from housing single migrant men in 50 churches, mosques and other houses of worship across the five boroughs.

[New York City mayor Eric Adams] said if the city can figure out ways around legal restrictions on such a move, “we can take that $4.2 billion — $4.3 [billion] maybe now — that we anticipate we have to spend and we can put it back in the pockets of everyday New Yorkers, everyday houses of worship instead of putting it in the pockets of corporations.

So, it seems the “hosts” for these “migrants” will be paid to “welcome” them. Unsaid is whether these people will be indemnified against damages and crimes committed by their “guests”.

“We should be recycling our own dollars,” [Adams] said.

Note “our own”. Money is coercively taken from residents by taxes, the top shaved off by parasites, becoming transubstantiated into “our own dollars”, and then part of that, after another parasite haircut, is paid to some residents for putting up savage criminals in their private residences. This is called “recycling”. Then, of course, I’m sure these “recycled” payments received by the “hosts” will be considered taxable income, on which they’ll pay part back, “recycling” it once again.

“Where do these ‘dollars’ ultimately come from?”, you ask. Don’t you know about the cat and rat farm the city operates upstate?


My Airbnb has a separate entrance. I have had many guests whom I’ve never met. Neither party’s privacy is given up, except to the extent that I can see whatever they’ve left when they leave. E.g. an undershirt, Dell charger, multi-head charging cord, six bottles of liquor after a week’s stay.


With the new wave of Prideful events, one should perhaps mind how monkeypox virus spreads:

Ways to prevent the spread to others include:

  • If cleaning and disinfection is done by someone other than the person with mpox (for example, an uninfected family member or friend), they should protect themselves by wearing disposable gloves, a well-fitting mask or respirator, such as an N95, and clothing that fully covers their arms and legs.
  • Do not share items that may have the virus on them such as bed linens, clothing, towels, wash cloths, drinking glasses, or eating utensils until the items are disinfected as described in How to Clean and Disinfect Types of Surfaces.
  • Cover upholstered furniture and porous materials that cannot be washed with sheets, blankets, tarps, and other covers.

There was plenty of “forced house sharing” in Russia, when the commies took over, and it is described well by Ayn Rand, in her novel We The Living.

What happened to Ayn Rand, in Russia in her younger years, is happening with a happier face, and a rainbow twist, in New York City-State in 2023. Thank God there are Free states to move to. As of this writing, other states have not yet built walls !


My beef is with the ongoing HOA consolidation into large regional property management corporations that have limited connections with the actual “communities”. As a concept, HOAs make a lot of sense and if ran by the individuals living in a neighborhood they could be a source for good.

But when a large HOA property management entity “accumulates” literally hundreds if not thousands of neighborhoods, the shift to a profit motivated enterprise aiming to maximize revenue, minimize costs degrades the experience of HOA residents. Anecdotally, it seems it also encourages not the best neighbors in positions of power over their neighbors.


I think this is a great illustration of the broken window fallacy (link)


When my wife and I were shopping for a new house, my first thought was to avoid any HOA. I believed that the association would be made up of low grade politicians and busy bodies eager to have some authority and power. However, I was having a conversation with the admin assistant at work and she started telling me the story of her neighbor the hoarder. She said he could not open his garage door without crap falling out. Then she showed me a Google Earth photo of his yard. It was a junk yard. Filled with old appliances and who knows what. Looked like the perfect environment for rats. She told me she and other neighbors had called the city to enforce the local ordinance and they wouldn’t. At the same time in our current neighborhood, the neighbor across the street put up an above ground swimming pool that had collapsed and had been in the collapsed state for over a year. Down the road lived some bachelors. They liked to have fires in the front yard and drink beer. They had a minibike and had a path they ran around the house while enjoying the fire and beer drinking. They had a tendency to park their vehicles on the front yard. I was young once too and could see myself partaking, but felt pity for the people living next door. I changed my mind on the HOA.

I carefully read the HOA rules before buying and I agreed with every one of them. This was a new development, the developer wrote the HOA rules and managed the HOA for the first 6 years. The developer actually having skills and vested interest in selling homes knew what impacts the value of property and the rules reflect this understanding. They also did an excellent job of maintaining common spaces, the community centers, keeping the side walks clear of snow and most important enforcing the rules.

This year was the first year when the residents took control of the HOA. I am a little worried about the lack of competency and about my initial fears of low grade politicians being in charge.

Thus, I am torn on professional management. I agree that this could lead to problems, but there is a higher probability they have competence when it comes to managing a community. It is probably a horse a piece.


Your mileage would definitely vary. And your anecdotes are somewhat scary, but I really wonder to what extent you could generalize.

Purchasing a property in a HOA community is almost a one-way door. You can love the property and still have next to zero say in what a professionally managed HOA chooses to do, including things like raising dues, imposing additional discretionary provisions on your ability to control what you do with your property, etc. Only way out is to sell, so if you love your neighbors, your home, and the community, but hate the discretionary policies of the association, well… tough luck.

It could be silly things … like having the rat poop inspectors fine you because it’s January 10 and your Christmas lights have not yet been removed, even if you’ve been out of town for the period. Or any number of minor nuisances - the point being that once professional management takes over, chances are they see resident more as a profit center than a community.

It all varies, of course, depending on which state you’re in and the age of the properties (source)

The same page cites an often shared FACR statistic showing that, on average, HOA homes are priced 4% higher than observably similar homes outside of HOAs. And a few other data points that support the profit driven hypothesis alluded to in this thread

  • Homes in HOAs are worth a collective $9.2 trillion.
  • HOAs contribute a collective $306 billion to the national economy each year through volunteer time, taxes, home improvements, housing services, etc.
  • Estimated yearly collections of all fees rose 32.4% between 2005-2015.