Case Name: Hoekstra v. City of Bayfield

Type of Case: Economic liberty

Court: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin

Case #: 2011-CV-650

Filed on: September 22, 2011

Current status: Case closed with favorable settlement

Something was rotten in the tiny city of Bayfield, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Superior.  The city council and mayor (a majority of whom own competing beds and breakfasts or other hotels) passed an onerous, anti-competitive ordinance severely restricting who could own and operate a bed and breakfast in the city.  Under the ordinance, owners had to reside in the city at least half the year, register to vote in the city, and list their city address on their driver's license. 

WILL challenged this ordinance on behalf of two couples who each own a bed and breakfast in Bayfield.  The U.S. Constitution prohibits cities from discriminating against people who live outside the state or even outside the city.  Because it completely prohibited non-residents from operating a B&B in the city, this ordinance was unconstitutional.

Faced with this lawsuit, Bayfield agreed to amend its ordinance.  Once the ordinance was changed to remove any reference to the above residence requirements and conformed with state law, the plaintiffs dismissed their lawsuit, bringing an amicable resolution to this issue.