HPA No. 1991-302 (In re. Askarinam Rental Building )
- HPA Number: 1991-302
- Case Name: In Re: 3108 Mt. Pleasant St., NW
- Location of Property: 3108 Mt. Pleasant St., NW
- Date of Decision: 3/9/92
- Type of Permit Sought: Alteration
- Disposition: Permit Denied
- Date of Case Summary: 7/17/06
Summary of Decision:
Ms. Maria Edyth Cuevas (Applicant), the tenant at 3108 Mt. Pleasant St., NW, out of which a business known as Distribuidora El Salvador Del Mondo is operated, sought a permit for a large (2' x 12') backlit sign, which she had already purchased and installed at the time of the permit application. The building was located in the Mount Pleasant Historic District. The sign was found to be "out of character" with the Historic District by the Historic Preservation Division of the DC Department of Regulatory and Consumer Affairs and by the Historic Preservation Review Board. The Applicant argued that to deny the permit for the sign would result in an unreasonable economic hardship, because she had already paid for the sign and installed it for a total cost of $2,774.78. The Mayor's Agent denied issuance of the permit because the Applicant failed to carry her burden of proof regarding claims of unreasonable economic hardship, i.e., Applicant failed to show that denying the permit constituted a constitutional taking of the property or would cause an onerous and excessive financial burden.
Mayor's Agent Procedural:
- The Mayor's Agent stated that the property owner has the burden of proving whether an unreasonable economic hardship exists.
- The Mayor's Agent found that although the Applicant did not own the premises, she owned the sign at issue and the business that was operated from the premises, and was therefore the "owner" for the purpose of determining whether an unreasonable economic hardship exists.
Unreasonable Economic Hardship:
The Mayor's Agent concluded that the Applicant did not meet the burden of proof with respect to the applicable standard, which was stated by the Mayor's Agent as being denial of the permit amounting to "the 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 the permit would place an onerous and excessive financial burden upon the owners." He stated that although the Applicant had provided financial information showing that Applicant owned a struggling small business, this information did not demonstrate why changing the sign would constitute a constitutional taking of the property or pose an onerous and excessive burden. (The Applicant submitted her business's tax returns and evidence of personal and business indebtedness, but did not provide any evidence regarding the cost of modifying the sign or the cost of creating a new sign.)
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