US Court Rejects Hawaii Zoning Initiative To Limit Vacation Rentals

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By Paul Mindus, The Saint Consulting Group

kauaiA federal court in Hawaii has tossed out a local zoning initiative that attempted to limit vacation rentals in a ruling that may cause other resorts and vacation destinations in the United States to sit up and take notice.

The voters of Kauai approved a Charter Amendment that created a special land use, called “transient accommodation unit” (TAU), that could limit zoning there and restrict the number of visitors or part-time residents to that island. The US District Court ruled that the amendment and a subsequent ordinance adopted by the County County to create the TAU zoning use was in reality a prohibited zoning initiative.

The federal lawsuit was brought by the owner of a property that has been designated for resort development for 35 years who argued that the Charter Amendment would severely limit the number of TAUs, number of visitors and part-time residents on Kauai.

Robert Thomas, writing in Hawaii Reporter, pointed out that the federal court ruling upheld an earlier Hawaii case that prohibits a municipality from adopting a zoning ordinance via the initiative process. But he also saw several areas not fully spelled out by the district court which carry forward to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

For full details of the Hawaii Reporter account, click here.

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