1951 – First Community Planning Councils established by the Manhattan Borough President
1963 – 62 Community Planning Boards established by the New York City Charter
1968 – Local Law 39 expands the powers of Community Planning Boards
1975 – 59 Community Boards established by the Charter Revision Commission
1989 – Charter Revision Commission changes the structure of City government and increases the role of Community Boards in environmental review.
Community Districts and Boards
In New York City there are 59 Community Districts and Boards. There are 12 Community Districts in the Bronx, 18 in Brooklyn, 12 in Manhattan, 14 in Queens and 3 in Staten Island. There is a maximum of 250,000 people per Community District.
Community Board Mandates
The City Charter mandates that each Community Board:
- Consider the needs of the Community District that it serves.
- Cooperate with, consult, assist and advise elected governmental officials about any matter that “relates to the welfare of the Community District and its residents.”
City Charter Requirements
- Monthly Board meetings are required except during July and August.
- Actions, decisions, etc. can only be authorized by a majority of the members present and entitled to vote during the presence of a quorum.
The Charter also requires:
- Adequate public notices of meetings and hearings.
- Time to hear the public at meetings must be set aside; and meetings are to be available for broadcasting and cable-casting.
- The Borough President appoints Board members.
- City Council members nominate at least half of the appointees (divided proportionally based on the share of the district's population represented by each Council member).
Board Membership and Additional Information
Up to 50 members who reside in, have a business, professional or other significant interest in that community; appointments should consider all neighborhoods and segments of the community.
Members serve for either one year or staggered two-year terms that begin on the first day of April;
- ½ of the membership is appointed every year.
- Not more than 25% of the appointed members shall be City employees.
- Non-Board members can serve on committees.
Board members are City officers. Community Boards are autonomous City agencies.
A member may be removed for cause, including frequent absence from Board and Committee meetings over a period of six months, by the Community Board or Borough President.
Community Board Committees
Purpose: Any and all district issues should be able to be considered and addressed by
a Board committee.
Responsibilities: Research issues, develop goals, plan activities, conduct public hearings,
and present recommendations to the full Board.
Committees also have input into the City’s budget process and Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
- Committees are composed of Board members, and non-Board (public) members. Public members can vote only in committees.
- Board members must join and regularly attend committee meetings Mandates.
- Committees are open to the public, and are required by the New York State Open Meetings Law to keep full and accurate minutes.
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. They participate in:
- Service Delivery
- Land Use Planning
- City Budget Process
Land Use and Zoning
Community Boards must be consulted on placement of most municipal facilities in the community and on other land use issues. They may also initiate their own plans for the growth and well being of their communities. Applications 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.
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.
Each Board adopts its own bylaws and elects its own officers. The Chairperson usually selects Committee Chairs.
- Long-Range Planning
- Community Advocacy
Community Board Meetings
Purpose of Full Board Meetings: The entire Community Board membership meets to consider the needs of the district and its residents.
Public hearings are required each month except during the summer.
Rules Governing Meetings
- Meetings are governed by New York State 's Open Meetings Law, the New York City Charter, Community Board By Laws and Robert's Rules of Order.
- The Corporation Counsel has clarified and interpreted certain regulations.
- The New York State Open Meetings Law requires that minutes be taken at all open meetings of a public body and the votes of all members must be recorded.
A typical meeting would usually include:
- Public session
- Public hearing
- Reports, e.g., Chairperson, District Manager, elected officials, guests, etc.
- Committee reports, presentations, etc.
- Action items and voting, e.g., resolutions, etc.