The Pinehurst Hot Mess: Battle Stations!


A meeting at Village Hall on September 1 at 4PM is likely to be a seminal moment in Pinehurst’s history.  The Pinehurst Planning Board will be hosting a public hearing on mayor John Strickland’s unprecedented assault on private property rights.  Strickland, his two yes-men on the council, and the so-called “Friday group”, are attempting to ban short-term rentals, VRBOs, airBnBs and other vacation rentals in Pinehurst.

Pinehurst doesn’t have the hotels to handle all of the tourists we get each week, month, and year.  And we’re not even close to having enough to cover all of the guests who come for major golf events like the US Opens. Banning vacation rentals will clearly have a negative economic impact on the village.  Economic hits usually get “covered” by tax or fee increases.  But Strickland and the rest of his pinkie-in-the-air, four-o’clock-cocktail cabal who live in the “historic district” don’t care.  They are all about pulling up the drawbridge.

A grassroots movement has formed to fight village hall.  A group called “Save Village of Pinehurst Rentals” has formed and set up an informational website.

Signs are going up all over town alerting residents to the public hearing on the 1st.  There’s even a petition opposing the rental ban.

Strickland has been trying to do this for a long time.  In 2014, Strickland was a mere councilman.  The full council shot down his proposal to regulate short-term rentals.  The police chief called the regulations too difficult to enforce.  Village attorney Mike Newman advised the council at that time that the regulation effort would not survive a court challenge.  (This year, Newman appears to be cheerfully going along with Strickland’s scheme.)

Strickland has already led the village into what looks to be some expensive, unwindable litigation. Passing this travesty would add at least one more major legal expense to village government’s plate.

The ban effort is being defended with all kinds of disinformation.  (Some might call it bullshit.)  We’re being told that this is just limited to short-term rentals in certain areas of the village.  Give government an inch, and they take a mile.  You let them tweak your property rights a little, and what comes next?

Given that Strickland and his cabal have emphatically opposed ANY attempts at building townhouses, apartments or other affordable housing opportunities in Pinehurst, (like the Arboretum apartments and the failed townhouse project on McCaskill) we too doubt that they would limit this current effort. Strickland actually had the nerve to claim recently that his current efforts to enact the ban are all about making housing in Pinehurst more affordable.

Misusing “majority.”  Methinks Strickland and his buddies need some education on the meaning of the word “majority.”  A “majority” is fifty percent plus ONE.  Some of Strickland’s pals have claimed that a “majority” of the litter in town comes from renters.  How would they know?

They’ve also claimed that a “majority” of residents in Pinehurst want the regulations and a ban.  The problem?  The village commissioned a survey which revealed an actual “majority” of residents are pleased with the quality of life in the village.  (Strickland has been referring to the rental ban as a “quality of life issue” as far back as 2014.)

Team Strickland has also tried to tell us these vacation rentals account for a “majority” of calls the Pinehurst police deal with.  Chief Webb has said that is nowhere near the case.

We’re also told that a “majority” of the vacation rental properties are owned by out-of-towners.  (Until March 2021, Strickland ally and councilman Pat Pizzella was an “out-of-towner.”)  Where is the documentation supporting that statement? I know personally a handful of locals who own vacation rental property here.

BIG corporations? Pizzella has claimed properties have been gobbled up by big corporations.  (Like the Pinehurst resort?  They own some vacation rentals here in town.)   How does he know?  Actually, it’s pretty easy to form an LLC.  Fill out a form, then send a check and the form to Elaine Marshall. LLCs are quite helpful and convenient when running a small business.  You can be a partner in a corporation that you and your spouse run from the kitchen table.

Strickland and his team have found a few old folks to complain about alleged noise from nearby rental houses.   One wonders if these people are anything like the ONE little old lady who complained about her neighbor’s kids and got the council to outlaw kids outside after dark.

So much of the argument driving this quixotic pro-ban movement is based on exaggerations and outright damnable lies.   Why lie to the people you are supposed to be serving? It’s actually a sign of disrespect.

Vote ‘Em Out. We ought to return the favor and show how little respect we have for mayor John Strickland, councilman Pat Pizzella, and councilmember Jane Hogeman. Vote them all out at the next election.  And, as a cherry on top, get village manager Jeff Sanborn and village attorney Mike Newman off the village payroll at the first available opportunity.  They’ve over-stepped their roles as public servants and have become willing accomplices to the mischief of John Strickland and The Friday Group.

You may think you don’t have a dog in this fight. You actually DO.  When the pinkie-in-the-air elitists downtown so flippantly assault personal property rights,  what’s NEXT?