Office of Administrative Hearings

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Office of Planning

The Office of Planning (OP) and its Historic Preservation Office are responsible for enforcing requirements for building permits within the 46 Historic Districts in the city.  While the same permit application is used for all properties in the city, the Historic Preservation Office performs an additional review for properties within the Historic Districts.  The Office of Planning is also responsible for enforcing the building codes in the Historic Districts.

OP issues Notices of Infraction for violations within the Historic Districts.  It then files these Notices with the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Persons receiving such Notices file their responses and payments with the Office of Administrative Hearings, which resolves any challenges to the Notices.  The instructions on the Notices explain that you can “admit” (take responsibility and pay the fine), “admit with explanation” (take responsibility but offer an explanation that the administrative law judge might take into account in deciding a fine) or “deny” (take no responsibility).  If you “admit with explanation,” OP will be given a chance to respond to your explanation and then the administrative law judge will decide the case based on the papers submitted.  If you “deny,” an in-person hearing is scheduled at which OP and you can present evidence.

Close attention should be paid to the instructions on the Notices of Infraction.  There are deadlines for responding to the notices.  There is a penalty for responding after the deadline.  There is also a penalty if you “deny,” a hearing is scheduled, and you fail to appear for the hearing.

GavelFinal Orders

Final Orders involving this agency issued by admininstrative law judges since September 2017 can be found [here]. Final Orders are uploaded regularly.

Sample Decisions

Sample Decisions

Administrative law judges issue a written decision for every case that is contested. The decisions below are examples of some issues raised in Office of Administrative Hearings’ cases involving this agency. You can review these decisions to get a sense of how prior cases were decided.

Please note that the facts of each case are different. These cases should be used for informational purposes only.

  • Office of Planning v. Simret, September 9, 2011 (finding Respondent liable for a Notice of Infraction for exceeding the scope of a permit and imposing a lesser fine (12A DCMR 105.1))
  • Office of Planning v. Katirai, December 15, 2009 (upon a plea of Admit with Explanation to a Notice of Infraction, finding Respondent liable for work done beyond the scope of or without a permit and reducing fines (12A DCMR 105.1))
  • Office of Planning v. Negussie, March 22, 2012 (finding Respondent liable for exceeding the scope of a permit by replacing property’s front door and not liable for other charges in Notice of Infraction (12A DCMR 105.1))
  • Office of Planning v. Triangle Community Assoc., Inc., October 26, 2011 (finding Respondent liable for installing an awning without a work permit and unauthorized removal of a Stop Work Order as alleged in a Notice of Infraction and reducing fines)
  • Office of Planning v. Nikodem, February 17, 2012 (finding that a condition in a permit requiring that a porch be rebuilt to its original condition cannot be imposed by the Office of Planning pursuant to the Historic Preservation Act after DCRA, exercising authority conferred by the Unsafe Structures Act (D.C. Official Code § 6-801(a-2), has ordered the structure demolished because it is imminently dangerous and imposing a fine under 12 DCMR 105.1 for constructing a wall without a permit)

Agency LawAgency Law

Administrative law judges base their decisions upon many sources of law, chief among them the District of Columbia laws (DC Official Code) and the District of Columbia regulations (DCMR). Depending on the type of case, federal law (US Code) and federal regulations (CFR) may also be relevant. Cases decided on the issues in other courts, especially the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, are relevant.