column: Pinehurst has ways to regulate short-term rentals on the books | Opinion

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The village of Pinehurst and surrounding communities depend on tourism as a primary source of income. Whether it’s touring the beautiful golf courses, horseback riding, or enjoying a weekend getaway to explore Moore County’s beautiful natural surroundings, tourists flock to the area every year.

This is why Pinehurst Village Council’s efforts to heavily regulate the vacation rental industry is counterintuitive. As such, the Mid-Carolina Region Association of Realtors opposes the proposed regulations on vacation rentals in Pinehurst.

Our opposition to vacation rental regulations is based on three major elements:

n the negative impact they will have on tourism;

n the excessive burdens these regulations would place on landowners that limit their private property rights; and

n the reasons for regulating vacation rentals may be dealt with by existing village ordinances.

Pinehurst benefits from tourism through the revenue it brings to the community. Annual tourism revenue for Pinehurst is $563 million. This, in turn, provided Moore County with $28.4 million in tax revenue in 2019. Closures and restrictions enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic decreased annual tourism to the area in 2020 and 2021. But as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and the tourism industry returns to pre-COVID levels, it is important that accommodation options are available.

Vacation rentals, also known as short-term rentals, are an economical option for tourists looking for accommodation during their stays. These rentals also provide tourists with a sense of “home away from home” which the hospitality industry does not provide. At the same time, these rentals are able to increase the tourist capacity of the region during peak tourist periods when hotel availability is at its lowest.

The second problem that arises from the proposed regulation is the limitation of private property rights, in particular the right to rent. Although the rental length is often much shorter than traditional long-term rentals, these properties are still considered residential properties and are subject to the same Pinehurst municipal codes as other residential properties. Creating regulations specific to short-term rentals would discriminate against landlords based solely on the length of the rental.

Finally, many of the concerns raised by Village Council members regarding vacation rentals can be addressed under current Village ordinances and code enforcement.

Two of the main complaints made against vacation rentals by those who support the regulations are complaints about noise and trash cans left on the side of the road. Either way, the ordinances in the Pinehurst books already address these issues.

Chapter 92 of the Municipal Code of the Village of Pinehurst already explicitly addresses and regulates these matters. Section 92.01.C, “Certain Conditions Declared Nuisances,” already regulates the accumulation of trash and garbage at Pinehurst residential properties. Sections 92.02, 92.03 and 92.03 outline the investigation process, as well as the process that landowners and the village can follow to resolve the issue.

With respect to noise complaints, Section 92.16, “Regulation of Unreasonably Loud and Disturbing Sound Levels,” already provides a remedy for noise complaints.

The Mid-Carolina Regional Association of Realtors proposes that instead of creating new codes, the Village of Pinehurst instead focus on enforcing ordinances already in place. By doing so, Pinehurst can mitigate complaints against vacation rentals without creating unnecessary new regulations.

For the reasons listed above, the Mid-Carolina Regional Association of Realtors opposes the proposed short-term rental settlement. We urge Pinehurst not to consider adding any new short term rental regulations. We also urge members of the community to join us in opposing the proposed settlements.

Sandra Barnhardt is the CEO of the Mid-Carolina Regional Association of Realtors.

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