Editorial: Treat a Business Like a Business | Opinion

It’s safe to say short-term rentals are in Pinehurst’s genes. James W. Tufts founded the village 127 years ago as a seasonal recovery resort. Most folks came to escape the filth and foulness of the Northeast to take in the pine-scented air and modest winters.

Much has changed in that time. Pinehurst is, of course, now Moore County’s largest municipality with more than 17,000 full-time residents. And that single seasonal recovery resort is now a massive golf-industrial complex with 13 traditional courses, hundreds of hotel rooms and, soon, a second headquarters for the US Golf Association.

As an iconic golf destination for visitors around the world, Pinehurst can never hope to house everyone who comes for vacation. As such, it needs privately owned short-term rental accommodations. It has always been this way and there is no sense that’s going to change anytime soon.

That said, there is something Pinehurst can do to impose a bit of structure and supervision over the matter that would help address the concerns of property owners upset about suddenly living next door to a mini hotel.

The matter of short-term rentals does not involve just a few properties scattered about the village. The volume of single-family homes available for vacation rental has boomed over the last few years as that niche has taken off. Indeed, international hotel corporations are even getting into buying select signature residential properties in some markets and branding them for “concierge” services.

Data shared with the Pinehurst Village Council showed there are currently at least 368 short-term rental units in Pinehurst, a 75-percent increase from 2020. Realtors talk of people and companies buying homes specifically for short-term rentals.

The Pinehurst Village Council has embarked on a plan to examine the issue and develop guidelines. It has 11 “objectives and indicators of success” provided by village planner Darryn Burich, with the goal, he said, to “maintain the quality of life in our residential neighborhoods and ensure that the impact of short-term rental properties is as similar as is practically possible to the impact of long-term residential properties. ”

Those guidelines address everything from overnight parking to impact on property values ​​and that “traditional neighborhoods remain predominantly occupied by long-term residents and don’t create the appearance or‘ feel ’of tourist destinations.”

“We have to accept that short-term rentals are going to be part of Pinehurst,” said Village Manager Jeff Sanborn, “and what we want to aspire to is a system of regulation that is as good as we can be.”

New council member Jeff Morgan may have the right perspective: “I want to get away from just the idea of‘ yes or no ’on short-term rentals. Look at the objectives. How do we work on this and how do we come to a compromise that’s going to improve the quality of life and maximize our objectives? ”

Answer: address head-on the fact that short-term rentals are a business and should be regulated as such. If you’re going to operate a short-term rental, you should be subjected to many of the same terms as a conventional hotel or resort room.

There should be occupancy limits based on the home’s bedrooms; parking restrictions that limit vehicles to a home’s driveway; county health inspections, with grades that must be posted; compliance with fire safety codes; and full collection and remittal of local occupancy taxes.

Violations would be reported by neighbors and subject to investigation by code enforcement and safety officials.

Intrusive? If you’re going to run a hotel out of a home, you need to be compliant with all the aspects any similar business would. This ensures that short-term rentals continue but that they are safe, congruent with reasonable standards and not a burden on those around them.

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