The Charter Revision of 1977 created community planning boards during a period in NYC when the decentralization of authority was a popular idea. It aligned with social change forces seeking civil and social justice, equality, and human rights in the United States. Concurrently, the mainly white upper-income population since the late 1950s found a small government easy to talk to in their newly built suburban enclaves. The population in New York City remained diverse and sought to build the resource of self-determination into the city’s neighborhoods. The best it became was a gesture for expanding participation but not to the power sought.
Community Board Members will serve no more than four consecutive two-year terms.
The Community Board (CB) staff is a skeleton.
It is barely able to support members and manage schedules.
Community Boards see themselves as part of the problem, and they like it.
“If all they will let is do is protest, then we will protest.’
Why is a hammer the only tool?
Why is the CB a shed for hammers? Many other skills are on offer.
The squeaky wheel powers of CBs can strongly influence some city agencies’ project development practices, but not in a good way.
Unhelpful, unhealthy “blame-the-victim” methods prevail.
can successfully impede
a public or private project.
sense new projects as an attack.
Efforts to gain consensus fail.
What be done?
Community boards were originally called community planning boards.
Today a Community Board is
treated as a multi-purpose
Judgments are sought on everything, from cargo bikes to billions in private housing development.
The structure makes Community Boards appear dysfunctional.
Members can be “vision people” and have fun with that foresight to define and solve problems.
For everything else, an up or down vote is the only expression of power.
An opinion vote will not reduce the sense of political manipulation and administrative misinformation.
Doing nothing is not an option.
Put strategic planning back into local efforts in a proactive partnership that solves problems.