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Can Community Boards Be Reformed?
February 9th, 2006

Newly elected Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is trying to make good on his campaign promise to reform Manhattan’s 12 community boards, launching a month long effort to recruit new members and proposing a series of actions to “depoliticize the appointment process, empower local residents and strengthen the role community boards play in shaping the future of the borough.”

Several bloggers in Manhattan (particularly those upset at the proliferation of new bars) are already welcoming the move.

The HoratioStreet blog writes that “the need for community board reform has recently become all too evident” in board 2, an institution plagued by “political maneuvering” and “conflict of interest.”

SohoPolitics writes that the new efforts are “a break from the [former Borough President] Virginia Fields tradition of only appointing bar owners who vote with liquor license buddies.”

“Hopefully, Mr. Stringer, a well-liked and widely admired politician will enable those on the boards to see the light,” the blog continues, “whether that be the bright white light of the sunlight laws or, for some undeserving board members, the inevitable light of an oncoming train.”

By on February 9, 2006, 3:58 pm
In category: Community Development,Gotham City | 8 Comments »

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8 Responses to “Can Community Boards Be Reformed?”

  1. Glenn Says:
    February 10th, 2006 at 9:40 am

    I think the most important reform would be to have community boards that are sensitive not just to narrow commerical and NIMBY interests, but take the whole community’s pulse on major issues that affect the whole community.

  2. Larry Littlefield Says:
    February 10th, 2006 at 10:06 am

    I was on a community board, and recognize that they can do some good, but am skeptical about the idea.

    We have erected an entire edifice of public participation — appointed board members, public hearings where only complainers show up and only insiders are listened to, etc, in order to ensure the public is represented. Isn’t that a recognition that elections are not really a useful form of public participation anymore, and our “elected” officials do not actually represent us?

  3. Glenn Says:
    February 10th, 2006 at 1:24 pm

    LL – That’s why we need more of the public to participate in local community boards and other institutions. Large diverse attendence is the answer to make it more democratic.

  4. KK Says:
    February 15th, 2006 at 8:30 am

    As a former community board District Manager, I have much respect for the work done by appointed community board members. These volunters devote many hours to learning about issues and proposals that impact their neighborhoods. When appointed in a thoughtful way, members come from all segments of the community they are representing. Residents, business, seniors, parents, preservationists, modernitsts, all take part in discussion leading to a representative community position. Community boards provide an important voice for the community.

    KK

  5. w Says:
    February 15th, 2006 at 9:24 am

    Considering the ever changing demographics of Harlem I believe a new & more diverse community board will be a asset to the ever changing community.

  6. HAILE RIVERA Says:
    February 15th, 2006 at 11:36 pm

    Wow! Finally an elected official has the courage to stand up, address the issue and SOLVE this problem affecting all New Yorkers.

    Like many have stated, Community Boards have become more of a place for some to use for political gains.

    I am confident that Borough President Stringer will be successful and will deliver the reforms that are much-needed in our CBs.

    Thank you Mr. Borough President! We are behind you! Your Friend,

    Haile Rivera

  7. Carolyn Konheim Says:
    February 17th, 2006 at 12:42 pm

    Community Consulting Service has long advocated two measures to improve community board effectiveness:
    1) provide technical assistance on complex issues, first via funding planner positions called for in City Charter, and, perhaps more realistically, create a pool of on-call technical consultants that CB’s can “retain” as needed for project review.
    2) equip community boards with on-line maps of development,transportation and infrastrucure projects and demographic characteristics so CBs can track development and view proposed projects in relation to other projects and existing conditions. CCS has developed limited prototypes of these systems.

  8. Olanike Alabi Says:
    February 19th, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    The League of Women Voters of the City of New York has formulated a Task Force/Committee on Community Boards. Perhaps any who are interested can attend. They are located at 45 E. 33rd St. They will be able to inform you of future meetings or you may search the web.

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