Community Boards play an important role in improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers, but many people don't know about them. We urge you to learn how your Community Board can help you, and how you may be able to help your Community Board.
Membership - Community Boards are local representative bodies. There are 59 throughout the city. Each Board consists of up to 50 unsalaried members appointed by the Borough President, with half nominated by the City Council Members who represent the community district.
Board members are selected by the Borough Presidents from among active, involved people of each community, with an effort made to assure that every neighborhood is represented. Board members must reside, work or have some other significant interest in the community.
Meetings - Boards meet once each month. At these meetings, members address items of concern to the community. Board meetings are open to the public, and a portion of each meeting is reserved for the Board to hear from members of the public. In addition, Boards regularly conduct public hearings on the City's budget, on land use matters, and other major issues - to give the people of the community the opportunity to express their opinions.
Committees - Board committees do most of the planning and work on the issues that are acted on at Board meetings. Each Board establishes the committee structure and procedures it feels will best meet the needs of its district. Non-Board members may apply to join or work on Board committees.
Boards have an important advisory role in dealing with land use and zoning matters, the City budget, municipal service delivery and many other matters relating to their communities' welfare.
Land Use and Zoning Maters - Community Boards must be consulted on placement of most municipal facilities in community and on other land use issues. They may also initiate their own plans for the growth and well being of their communities. Also, any application for a change in or variance from the zoning resolution must come before the Board for review, and the Board's position is considered in the final determination of these applications.
City Budget - Community Boards assess the needs of their own neighborhoods, meet with city agencies and make recommendations in the City's budget process to address them. Other Community Concerns - Any problem that affects part or all of the community, from a traffic problem to deteriorating housing, is a proper concern of a Community Board.
Limitations - The Community Board, its District Manager, and its office staff serve as advocates and service coordinators for the community and its residents. They cannot order any city agency or official to perform any task, but Boards are usually successful in resolving the problems they address.
The Community Board hires a District Manager and the Board staff. The District Manager establishes an office, hires staff, and implements procedures to improve the delivery of City services to the district. District Managers play many different roles. They are complaint takers, municipal managers, information sources, community organizers, mediators, advocates and much more.
The main responsibility of the District office is to receive and resolve complaints from community residents. Many Board offices have assumed the responsibility of providing additional services. These might include assisting with Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Forms, Housing Assistance Applications, Half- Fare applications, etc. They also process permits for block parties, street fairs, etc. In addition, some offices may handle special projects, including organizing tenants and merchants associations, coordinating neighborhood cleanup programs, publicizing special events, and more, depending on community needs.
For further information, call Community Board 7/Manhattan, (212) 362-4008.