Thursday, October 4, 2007

Federal Suit Filed Against Maui County to Stop it from Enforcing TVR Zoning Laws

Earlier this month, I wrote about transient vacation rental (“TVR”) operators who where gearing up to bring action against Maui County to enjoin it from enforcing its zoning laws. Today the Maui news reports that the Maui Vacation Rental Association filed suit in the U.S. District Court.

It looks like an uphill battle for the plaintiffs since they appear to be alleging that they don’t like the county’s zoning laws. However, zoning is a legislative action by the county council, and a court will not question legislative actions unless that law is contrary to the constitution. The plaintiff’s arguments appear to be that zoning restrictions don’t allow them to operate TVR’s where they want to or in the manner they choose. It is difficult to imagine a court overturning the county’s TVR legislation on that basis since zoning has been in the purview of local governments since the 1926 U.S. Supreme Court case Euclid v. Ambler. Moreover, TVR owners are not a protected class and the government’s regulatory activity here is not regulatory activity highly scrutinized by the courts.

What is required here is not litigation, but a legislative fix. Unfortunately for TVR owners, they have been trying for more lenient TVR laws since at least the early 1990’s, but the county council has not seen fit to introduce such legislation.

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