Press Releases

For Immediate Release
August 26, 2019

Rachaele Raynoff, Joe Marvilli – (212) 720-3471


New online platform levels the playing field by helping Community Boards advocate for public priorities more easily

NEW YORK – Department of City Planning (DCP) Director Marisa Lago today announced a new and improved, easy-to-use digital platform for Community Boards to formally submit their annual needs and budget requests to the City, with easier access to relevant City data to make a stronger case for these requests. The webtool, Community District Priorities, is part of an ongoing effort by DCP to support members of the public in making their voices heard about their neighborhood’s needs.

“Community Boards are an essential element of our city’s budgeting process. So DCP is especially pleased to provide New York City’s diverse Community Boards with enhanced tools to smartly and efficiently advocate their neighborhood’s needs – whether it be affordable housing, school seats, bike lanes, a health clinic, better street cleaning, or any other City service. I urge members of the public to attend their local Community Board meetings and get involved in championing the causes near and dear to them,” said DCP Director Marisa Lago

“Community Boards are the grass roots of government in New York,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This new online platform will help those grass roots grow faster, deeper and more robust. Getting government away from its paper addiction is simply common sense-- it makes budget applications less like filing your own taxes and it's more efficient and better for the planet, too.”

Community Boards are gearing up to submit their annual budget requests, due October 31. Throughout the year, the boards gather data to assess local conditions and get input from the public on neighborhood needs. They will hold public meetings in the early fall to finalize and vote on priorities. To contact your local Community Board, please visit the Community Affairs Unit’s website.

Since 2015, DCP has worked with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to streamline and simplify the submission work for all 59 community boards.  One measure of success from this streamlining is that Community Boards in lower-income areas have increased the number of budget requests they submit to City agencies – and are now on par with the traditionally better-resourced, higher-income neighborhoods.

The platform will make it easier for Community Boards and the public to participate in the budget process and for New York City agencies to access Community Board requests, with prioritization and more supporting details and at an earlier date in the budget cycle. Higher quality submissions typically lead to more active dialogue between the boards and agency planners at budget season and throughout the year. Agencies will use the information to focus services where needed most. Community Boards will also be able to more readily share their priorities with the public and elected officials, once they are submitted. Well-considered Community Board budget requests meaningfully influence decisions made during the annual budget process.

DCP will provide training and support to assist Community Boards in using the new system most effectively.

A vital part of annual Community Board submissions is their “top 3 pressing issues,” and the rankings are used to further help the Administration align its efforts with community needs. Last year’s most frequently mentioned issue was “affordable housing,” with 30 of 59 boards nominating it as their top need. “Schools” and “traffic” followed, with 19 and 15 community boards respectively. When broken down by borough, some top priorities were: “affordable housing” and “quality of life” for The Bronx, “affordable housing” and “schools” for Brooklyn, “affordable housing” and “trash removal/cleanliness” for Manhattan, “schools,” “traffic” and “street flooding” for Queens and “traffic” for Staten Island. One of the least identified issues for last year among Community Boards across the city was “crime,” which has trended down considerably in this Administration.

“Community Boards are essential in bringing democracy to all New Yorkers and the Community Affairs Unit (CAU) is committed to working with them to achieve their goals. I commend City Planning for streamlining and prioritizing accessibility so Community Boards can easily advocate and communicate their needs,” said CAU Commissioner Marco A. Carrión.

“Keeping the City’s commercial corridors vibrant is a priority at SBS, and we have multiple programs to support the diverse needs of our neighborhoods,” said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services.  “Community engagement is a vital part of the planning process – and this online tool enables government to be responsive to community needs by strengthening the vital link between community boards and agencies like SBS, helping us to make smarter, faster decisions.”

“The Civic Engagement Commission was formed to boost civic participation, enhance civic trust and strengthen democracy in New York City.  One of the best ways we can engage people and build that trust is by ensuring that their voices are heard.  This new user-friendly platform makes it much easier for every Community Board to have their say and collaborate with agencies in city planning.  I look forward to supporting Community Boards as they use this platform to share their needs and priorities,” said Dr. Sarah Sayeed, Chair & Executive Director, Civic Engagement Commission.

“It’s clear that community perspectives are a foundational step in planning and budget decisions – and enshrined as a guiding principle of the City’s Ten-Year Capital Strategy. This new platform will make it even easier for Community Boards in all boroughs to provide their priorities, in a manner that the City can easily and promptly digest,” said DCP Chief Operating Officer Jon Kaufman.

“At Sanitation, our mission is to keep every neighborhood in New York City healthy, safe and clean,” said Gregory Anderson, DSNY Assistant Commissioner for Policy and External Affairs. “We work closely with our 59 Community Boards to understand the needs of neighborhoods and ensure we provide responsive, equitable service. These tools promote increased engagement and transparency, and help us better respond to the needs of communities in all five boroughs. We thank the Department of City Planning for their partnership in this effort.”

This new DCP platform provides many functions that make it even easier for Community Boards to advocate for their neighborhoods: 

  • Access available from any computer with an internet connection
  • Links to relevant tools/sources, such as DCP’s Population FactFinder, as well as data from other agencies (school seats, crime statistics, health services), helping Community Boards describe and more fully substantiate their needs 
  • More intuitive interface, for easy navigation between parts of a submission 
  • Ability to ‘drag-and-drop’ budget requests into a prioritized order
  • Simpler printing and reporting, letting users more easily share drafts with board members and various stakeholders as well as post it on their websites
  • Secure collaboration, allowing multiple users to edit a document simultaneously 

Last year’s final budget submissions for each Community Board can be found on DCP’s Community Portal. Select your Board and then click on the “Community Board” tab to view the respective Statement of Community District Needs for Fiscal Year 2020. The budget submissions for Fiscal Year 2021 are expected to be posted by January 2020.

The preliminary budget is scheduled to be released on April 26, 2020 and the adopted budget is scheduled to be released on June 5, 2020.

Timely, specific and actionable Community Board input into the City’s budget process is key to the equitable and efficient delivery of City services and infrastructure for communities citywide.

Among other DCP interactive tools available to Community Boards are ZAP Search, ZoLa, the Digital Zoning Resolution, Metro Region Explorer, Waterfront Access Map and NYC Street Map.

“I think the new website is great. It will give me an opportunity to show my Board Members directly what we are asking for and what our priorities as a community should be. The website is very user friendly and simply laid out. It’s my hope to use this to get more input from my Board and community at large on what matters most to us,” said George Torres, District Manager for Bronx Community Board 12.

“We are pleased to see the DCP program to simplify the computer procedures to input the Community District Needs.  It has given us the ability to share with other Community Board members to review and add information to the report.  The Community Board budget requests have made it easier to see the agency's responses to our problems and give options how to handle the issues and know where to focus our priorities.  With the updated, computerized format, it has made it easier to prioritize the needs of the community,” said Eddie Mark, District Manager for Brooklyn Community Board 13.

“The submission of a Community Board's Statement of District Needs and Budget Priorities is one of the core responsibilities a board has to the neighborhoods it represents. Through past Statement of District Needs, Manhattan Community Board 4 advocated and obtained funding for essential predestination safety measures, additional sanitation staff, and the completion of needed shelters services and school projects,” said Jesse Bodine, District Manager for Manhattan Community Board 4. “I appreciate the dedication of the Department of City Planning staff to improve the submission process for all parties and now with these recent changes especially for the Community Board and the communities they represent.”

“Manhattan Community Board Six (CB6) is working to update our Statement of Needs and budget request process to better ensure that our input reflects the current needs of our district and that our requests are supported by community feedback, constituent service request data, and agency research. We aim to improve our document year after year and to use it to better advocate for the residents of Manhattan Community District 6,” said Jesus Perez, District Manager for Manhattan Community Board 6. “The Department of City Planning’s new portal will help us organize our work and enable us to build upon our efforts throughout the fiscal year. That way, our Statement of Needs and budget request process can inform the direction of CB6’s work and advocacy year-round and not just during budget season.”

Budget Request
Most Important Issue
Selected screenshots show new Community District Needs interface for Community Boards budget requests