Policy Brief

Community Boards are, and have been, an essential part of local governance in New York City. From enforcing local codes to connecting elected officials and policymakers with community members, CB’s serve as a powerful force in shaping the present and future opportunities of our neighborhoods. However, Community Boards are oftentimes unrepresentative bodies, skewing the general opinion of residents to those in power. To make matters worse. Community Boards can only offer recommendations regarding how our neighborhoods are shaped through new developments. To meet the needs of our communities, provide greater economic opportunities, and address issues of health, safety, and climate change, we have to address the issues of representation and power in our community boards. 

To resolve issues of representation: 

  • Create a Screening Committee within Brooklyn Borough President’s Office tasked with objectively vetting applicants and reevaluating community board members who wish to reapply at the end of each term
  • Build individualized outreach plans with individual city council members that include a detailed and comprehensive list of community organizations, clergy, associations, groups, and schools contacted – plans and outreach lists will be made public and open to constituent comment through community-facing portal
  • Create criteria regarding the geographic and demographic diversity of the community to ensure boards are more reflective 
  • Track demographic application trends and publish a comprehensive report for community evaluation 
  • Increase youth representation by allocating two seats for members under the age of 18, and two seats specifically for members between the ages of 18-25 
  • Create a highly visible digital application infrastructure to make applications accessible to all community members
  • Revise and amend charter to Involve community members directly via Community Planning Organizations (CPO’s) who will serve as advisory subcommittees alongside board members
    • Similar to jury duty, CPO’s are comprised of community members who will be contacted to and compensated for spending time with community board members in policy-making and decision making processes
  • Make all community board agendas public 72 hours in advance of meeting (or 24 hours for special meetings) and make public submission of questions available through digital portal
  • Publish recordings of community board meeting alongside vote records within 24 hours and maintain them on a public platform

To resolve issues of power and efficiency: 

  • Certification of ULURP applications must involve discussions between the community board members and the DCP 
  • All ULURP applications must include an environmental impact study and a racial impact report as defined by Intro 1572-2019
  • Revise and amend the city charter to give Community Boards up-down voting power in ULURP applications to negotiate parameters of project to meet community needs
  • Appoint a Director of Community Boards to support and coordinate information and resources among the District Managers
  • Expand on Intro 0732-2015 to connect Community Boards to Planning Specialists, Environmental Specialists, and other relevant experts to support the best possible input and voting on issues
    • Offer panel opportunities open to the public to contribute to informed preferences
  • Increase funding to Community Boards to meet demands
    • Excuse Community Boards from PEG budget cuts
    • Advocate for greater Community Board funding in annual city budget
  • Support incoming board members with policy trainings as well as panels with former community board members as a means to ensure continuity in understanding