New Complaint Challenging Kauai’s Limit On Visitor Units

View of the Na Pali Coast from Haena, Kauai
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View of the Na Pali Coast from Haena, Kauai

BY ROBERT THOMAS – An interesting new complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Hawaii, asserting claims for substantive due process, violation of the zoning enabling act, and the Kauai County Charter.

A owner of property that has been designated for resort development for 35 years is asserting that the adoption by the County’s voters of a charter amendment severely limiting the number of visitor accommodation units (no more than one new unit, and other restrictions), was an attempt to restrict the number of visitors and part-time residents. The complaint asserts that the County has no legitimate interest in restricting tourists or part time residents, and that the charter amendment is a zoning regulation that cannot be adopted by the voters (recall that in Hawaii, zoning ordinances may not be adopted by initiative – thanks to a case we argued many years ago – see here andhere).


We’ll keep track of this one as it progresses.

Complaint, Kauai Beach Villas – Phase II v. County of Kauai, CV 12-00483-LEK (filed Aug. 27, 2012)



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Robert H. Thomas is one of the preeminent land use lawyers in Hawaii. He specializes in land use issues including regulatory takings, eminent domain, water rights, and voting rights cases. He has tried cases and appeals in Hawaii, California, and the federal courts. Robert received his LLM, with honors, from Columbia Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, and his JD from the University of Hawaii School of Law where he served as editor of the Law Review. Robert taught law at the University of Santa Clara School of Law, and was an exam grader and screener for the California Committee of Bar Examiners. He currently serves as the Chair of the Condemnation Law Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section on State & Local Government Law. He is the Hawaii member of Owners’ Counsel of America, a national network of the most experienced eminent domain and property rights lawyers. Membership in OCA is by invitation only, and is limited to a single attorney from each state. Robert is also the Managing Attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation Hawaii Center, a non-profit legal foundation dedicated to protecting property rights and individual liberties. Reach him at He is also a frequent speaker on land use and eminent domain issues in Hawaii and nationwide. For a list of upcoming events and speaking engagements.