Today the Maui News reported that the vacation rental suit I discussed here, here, and here, was dismissed in federal court.
It appears that most of the Plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed; however, the court will allow Plaintiffs to amend the counts alleging equal protection violations under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The Plaintiffs will need to show that they were intentionally treated differently from others similarly situated and that there is no rational basis for such treatment. Equal protection cases in the land use entitlement arena are relatively new, but a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision gave landowners the go-ahead to challenge municipal land use decisions based on equal protection grounds. (See Village of Willowbrook v. Olech, S. Ct. 2000.)
Given the unusual, seemingly irrational approach the County has taken in allowing or denying TVR’s, the Plaintiff’s may have some ammunition to move forward.