Elected Officials Encourage Service on Community Boards
By Mary Alice MillerCommunity improvement starts at the hyper-local level: the community board.Community boards are mandated by the NYC Charter to serve an advisory role and make recommendations about land use, zoning, budget, and service delivery.The Community Board is an official municipal body whose primary mission is to advise elected officials and government agencies on […]
By Mary Alice Miller
Community improvement starts at the hyper-local level: the community board.
Community boards are mandated by the NYC Charter to serve an advisory role and make recommendations about land use, zoning, budget, and service delivery.
The Community Board is an official municipal body whose primary mission is to advise elected officials and government agencies on matters affecting the social welfare of the district.
Community boards have no power to implement their decisions, but city leaders take their recommendations into serious consideration.
The City Charter requires that community boards are diverse, representative, and inclusive.
Brooklyn has 18 local community boards out of 59 citywide, with up to 50 members each.
Any NYC resident age 16 and older can serve on the community board where they work, live, or have a professional or significant interest within the board’s district. The Brooklyn Borough President has several criteria for professional or significant interests: an employee of a city agency or organization located in the district and serving its residents; a member of the board of directors of an organization in the district; a student attending a school located in the district; or a property or business owner.
Serving on your community board takes commitment. Each community board has a monthly meeting that members are required to attend in person or virtually. In addition, there are various hearings, committee meetings, land use meetings, and trainings that require attendance. Serving on a community board is an unpaid position for two-year staggered terms.
New members are appointed to the community board each year.
Mercedes Narcisse said, “I am a strong proponent of being active and civically engaged. Being actively involved in your local community board is a meaningful way to be a vital part of the change you wish to see in your neighborhood.
“Prior to my election to the City Council, I was a proud member of Community Board 18; as such, I make it my practice to encourage folks to consider joining their local community board. If you are ready to make a difference, it’s crucial to communicate this interest to your council member who can appoint you. Such collaboration is critical in helping one get appointed and increases the effectiveness of our collective efforts to bring real change to our city.”
Community boards, the most grassroots level of local government, are local bodies that weigh in on topics ranging from local land use matters to restaurants’ liquor licenses, transportation projects, and more.
“Community boards give New Yorkers a unique opportunity to have a say in matters that impact their communities,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “In order for community boards to achieve their full potential, they must be as diverse as the neighborhoods they represent – and here in Brooklyn, my administration is laser-focused on ensuring that community boards are representative and well-resourced. To meet this goal, we need involvement from everyday Brooklynites! No matter your background or story, we want to hear from you. Apply today!”
One essential function of a Brooklyn Borough President is to oversee the borough’s 18 community boards. The staff and membership of each board dedicates their time to addressing constituent concerns, liaising with City agencies and elected officials, informing the public about government programs and budget allocations, providing a platform for stakeholders to weigh in on land use decisions, and much more. Changes to the City Charter and decades of under-resourcing, however, have made it difficult for Brooklyn’s 18 community boards to deliver on their charter-mandated responsibilities and advocate for the needs of their community district. Demographic studies have also shown that board membership often does not reflect a community’s diversity.
Borough President Reynoso’s vision of a Brooklyn for all requires that community boards – the grassroots of our local government – are fully funded, fully resourced, and as diverse as the people of this borough. As agency head, Borough President Reynoso has redirected Borough Hall resources toward furthering the independence and long-term sustainability of community boards through operational training and support, as well as advocating to relevant City agencies to provide critical resources.
Submit the application and supporting documentation to the Brooklyn Borough President’s office electronically, on paper by mail, or in person. This year’s deadline is February 19, 2024. Anyone seeking a council member’s nomination should contact that council member’s office after submitting the application.