City Paper Widget

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Interview with Jonathan Jagoda, Candidate for ANC2B district 05

This is a written interview with Jonathan Jagoda, a candidate for Commissioner for district 05 of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle.

Jagoda's opponent in the race is incumbent Abigail Nichols. Nichols won her seat in a March 2013 special election. Read an interview with Nichols here.

District 05 is a thin rectangle, longer on the north-south axis. The borders are (roughly) 15th Street NW on the east, Lafayette Park on the south, and Q Street on the north. The western side of the district is a jagged line running (south to north) along 17th Street, Connecticut Avenue, 18th Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and 17th Street again until the intersection of Q Street. It is in the lower-right corner of the map at right.

Don't know your ANC district? There are two search tools: one by the DC government, the other by Code for DC.

-- Where can voters go to find out more about you?

I encourage folks to visit my website at to learn more about my campaign and why I am running for ANC2B05 Commissioner. I also have a Twitter ( and Facebook ( account, which I update regularly with news related to ANC 2B05 and Dupont Circle. I would like to invite all members of the community to email me at, as I want to hear directly from you about the issues that matter to my neighbors in this upcoming election.

-- The M Street bicycle path runs in part through your district. It is like riding on a washboard, much like part of the 15th Street bicycle lane was before it was repaved. DDOT seems to have a pattern of setting up mid-town bike lanes (good), but then not making sure they are usable for bicyclists (bad). What can you, or others, do to improve this situation? What can ANCs do to help make paving bike lanes an automatic part of the process, instead of always being the result of months of complaining and pressure?

Bicycle lanes are an important fabric of our community, and contribute significantly to the reduction of vehicle congestion and pollution. But we must ask ourselves…what is the point of a bike lane if it is not safe or desirable for its users?

By the end of 2013, the 15th Street bicycle lane was resurfaced, which finally provided a smoother ride and clear boundary indicators to bicyclists, motorists, and pedestrians alike. If elected, I will work diligently to garner support for funding the re-pavement of the M Street protected bike lane (cycle track), which is desperately needed in areas affected by construction and the Connecticut Avenue NW Streetscape Project.

As a Federal Government Relations professional, I specialize in coalition building and bringing stakeholders together in support of a common initiative. I will work with Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans, the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), neighboring ANCs, and the community (via petitions) to push for this critical project, and ensure that resurfacing is considered a logical component of all future bike lane projects.

[Note: Jagoda included the following note in an email: "... my answer to the M St bike lane question may be out-of-date soon - there was a rumor (an unsubstantiated one) at [the September 10] ANC meeting that there will be funding for repaving the M St bike lane." Since then, repair of the bike lane has begun.]

-- Your district is also home to “Club Central”, the cluster of nightclub on Connecticut Avenue below Dupont Circle. There is another cluster on the 1800 block on M Street. These clubs are a chronic source of dispute with neighbors over noise. The result seems to be a drawn-out and expensive use of city resources to investigate and judge the complaints. Why can’t neighbors and nightclubs solve these problems between themselves? Can ANCs do something to make this issue less contentious?

First and foremost, we must ensure the safety of the community in “Club Central.” Rightfully so, many residents within the area are concerned about noise levels, especially late into the night. Businesses are part of the community, and in accordance with their right to operate, they must also be willing to be respectful to their neighbors and share in the responsibility of abiding by all applicable noise control laws and the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) regulations.

I negotiate for a living. I am a strong believer that there is always a compromise, and that victory does not result from the voice which carries the loudest – no pun intended. Before we move too far down the road and utilize city resources on these matters, I plan to host a public, monthly meeting for ANC2B05 alcohol establishment owners and neighbors to come together and share their unique perspectives. We live in an active city, so the reality is that it will never be silent at night. But together, solutions can be found and settlement agreements can be reached to mitigate concerns related to noise.

-- Much (perhaps all) of your district is also part of some historic district or another. What, if anything, should DC’s Historic Preservation Review Board do to make the process of getting necessary permits less onerous for homeowners?

I plan to serve on the ANC 2B Zoning, Preservation, and Development Committee next year, regardless of the outcome of this election. I am proud to live in ANC 2B05, and walk to work in a neighborhood that celebrates and cherishes its historic character and design.

ANC Commissioners play an important role in keeping the community apprised of local construction projects, as well as working with homeowners, businesses, and neighbors to ensure that projects are designed and completed in an efficient and permissible manner. The Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) permit process is not under the purview of an ANC Commissioner, but I look forward to working with designers and applicants to help navigate and simplify their permit request process.

-- Your district has a many churches in it, and parking is always a problem. What, if anything, should ANCs do to help churches get the local parking that they need?

Parking is a problem for anyone with a car (and without an assigned/paid space) in ANC 2B05, not just the churches. Dupont Circle is enduring its fair share (and then some!) of construction, which has had a significant impact on the availability of parking. One matter I plan to address as an ANC Commissioner that will alleviate some of the parking headaches pertains to curbside dumpsters.

I doubt any of us in ANC 2B can walk too far without seeing an enormous, blue receptacle that is not only an eyesore, but also blocks much needed and desired parking spots. It was alarming to me to discover that dumpsters can remain on D.C. streets for months at a time at a nominal cost to developers, contractors, and construction companies. The burdens associated with these dumpsters should not fall on the neighborhood. If contractors were required to remove and return the dumpsters on a daily basis, there would be greater parking options at night and on the weekends when construction is paused. This would help churches in need of additional parking options in the Dupont Circle area.

I hope to work with Councilmember Evans and DDOT to achieve regulatory changes to curbside dumpsters, and commend the Georgetown ANC for bringing this issue back to the spotlight.

-- There are two liquor license moratoriums in effect in ANC2B, and one will come up for renewal during the next two years. What is your opinion about the extension of liquor license moratoriums in ANC2B?

In the coming months, I hope to host meetings with community members to gauge their input on the ANC 2B liquor license moratoriums. While I recognize the historic significance of the moratorium, I did support the 2013 decision of ANC2B to begin the process of phasing it out.

I live on 17th Street NW, and am the last person who wants to see loud clubs in a residential neighborhood. But I also take great pride in the fact that 17th Street is home to some of the best restaurants and bars in Washington, D.C., attracting patrons from near and far. We should welcome and reward responsible business owners that seek to help our community continue to thrive, thus preserving Dupont Circle’s spot at the top of the most enticing places to live in the city. We should not indiscriminately punish business owners with plans to operate in a safe, responsible, and respectful manner in the neighborhood. New restaurants on 17th Street NW have revitalized the neighborhood, and we should be proud of that – just take a look at the line forming at 4PM every day in front of Little Serow, or the affable crowd at Duke’s Grocery sidewalk cafĂ© on weekends.

We need a balanced approach to this issue that is based on facts and evidence. I am doubtful that phasing out the moratorium will have a negative impact on the community, and more than likely will benefit it. As an ANC Commissioner, I will ensure that any business seeking to operate along 17th St NW, or elsewhere in Dupont, respects its place and role in a residential neighborhood.

-- There is push back now against density in residential areas, particularly in favor of limiting “pop ups”? What do you think about these proposed new regulations? How is it possible to have more affordable housing if it is so difficult to add to the housing stock?

Density will continue to be an issue in Dupont Circle, especially as more micro-units and pop-ups are built. I am certainly in favor of growing our community, but not at any price.

My wife and I purchased our condo on 17th Street NW because we envision living in Dupont Circle for many years. Communities are built by its sustaining members. If Dupont Circle continues to move in the direction of micro-units at exorbitant rental rates and price tags, we will quickly transform into a neighborhood of transients. How can we expect community investment in our local parks and schools if hundreds of our neighbors are moving to other parts of the city, Maryland, or Virginia after a short stint in Dupont? As a Commissioner, I plan to work with developers to encourage that larger one-, two-, and three-bedroom units be included in their designs and building conversions to support long-term occupancy.

I also have serious concerns about some of the pop-ups emerging that are tarnishing the character of the city’s neighborhoods. I very much support development that increases the housing stock, or expands a homeowner’s property, but not when every inch of usable space is squeezed into an unflattering design that is visible from the sidewalk and compromises the historic feel and compatibility with the neighborhood.

-- Is there any question I should have asked you but didn’t?

What was your inspiration in deciding to run for the ANC? Was there a precise moment when you began to think about it?

Absolutely. I remember it vividly. I have been attending ANC Regular and Committee meetings for a while, but the moment that really shines is the May 2014 ANC Meeting. A business owner stood before the ANC, and in requesting a CR license for her quick service pizzeria, spoke with such conviction and pride about her new venture. It was touching to me not only to see her level of excitement, but also the process involved of folks coming before the ANC, and presenting their plan to become a part of the community. That’s what the ANC is about to me…building a community. And that’s why I am running.

End of interview.

The election will take place on Tuesday, November 4. Thanks to all candidates for responding to my questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment