Hignell-Stark v. City of New Orleans, No. 21-30643 (5th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
This case involves three constitutional challenges to New Orleans’s regulation of short-term rentals (“STRs”)—the City’s term for the type of lodging offered on platforms such as Airbnb and Vrbo. The district court granted summary judgment to the City on two of those challenges but held that the third was “viable.” Both sides appealed.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part, vacated in part, and dismissed the City’s cross-appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Plaintiffs appealed the summary judgment on the dormant Commerce Clause claim and the Takings Clause claim. The City cross-appealed the “holding”—its term, not ours—that the prior-restraint claim is “viable.”
The court explained that first, the original licensing regime was explicit: An STR license is “a privilege, not a right.” Second, Plaintiffs’ interests in their licenses were not so longstanding that they can plausibly claim custom had elevated them to property interests. Together, those two factors yield one conclusion: Plaintiffs didn’t have property interests in the renewal of their licenses. Next, the court agreed that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the City on their challenge to the residency requirement. The court explained that the district court should have asked whether the City had reasonable nondiscriminatory alternatives to achieve its policy goals.