Decision Summary HPA No. 91-426
- HPA Number
- Building Name
- O Street Ltd Partnership Building
- 2921 O St. NW
- Date of Order
HPA Number: 91-426
Case Name: In Re: 2921 “O” Street, NW
Location of Property:
Date of Decision: February 6, 1992
Type of Case/Permit Sought: Alteration & New Construction
Date of Case Summary: July 26, 2006
O Street Limited Partnership (the “Applicant”) sought a permit for the alteration of a garden wall, construction of a curb cut, and installation of a parking pad. Applicant sought the permit in order to provide off-street parking for a home in the Georgetown Historic District. The Commission of Fine Arts recommended denial of the permit application. Subsequently, Applicant requested a hearing with the Mayor’s Agent, claiming that denial of the permit application would result in “unreasonable economic hardship.” The Mayor’s Agent found that Applicant failed to sustain its burden of proof regarding “unreasonable economic hardship” and denied the permit application.
Mayor’s Agent – Procedural:
The hearing took place despite the fact that Applicant was unable to comply with the pre-filing requirement due to problems in mailing correspondence to Applicant. The Mayor’s Agent overlooked this procedural mistake, however, pursuant to a telephone agreement made between Applicant and the Chief of the Historic Preservation Review Division to proceed with the hearing as scheduled despite the inability of Applicant to comply with the pre-filing requirement.
The property owner has the burden of proving an alleged unreasonable economic hardship.
Unreasonable Economic Hardship:
Applicant’s claim of unreasonable economic hardship was based on the fact that the value of the property would increase substantially if off-street parking was added. In determining that this set of circumstances did not rise to the level of an “unreasonable economic hardship,” the Mayor’s Agent repeated the statutory standard for “unreasonable economic hardship,” i.e., “circumstances where failure to issue a permit would amount to a taking of the owner's property without just compensation or, in the case of a low income owner or owners, as determined by the Mayor, when failure to issue a permit would place an onerous and excessive financial burden upon the owners.” As no argument was presented that the owner was “low income,” the Mayor’s Agent focused on whether denying a permit would “amount to a taking.” The Mayor’s Agent dismissed the takings argument because (i) Applicant had presented no evidence to support such an argument and (ii) Applicant was not being “deprived” of something it already possessed, but rather from something it “desired” but was “not entitled to as a matter of right.” The Mayor’s Agent also noted that it “argued against an economic hardship” because the property’s value had appreciated substantially during the three years Applicant owned the property (it was purchased for $900,000 in 1986, and, as of May 14, 1988, the property was appraised at $1,040,000).