Whether it's a possible bike lane or discussing a natural gas pipeline, community boards meetings are usually the closest venue that New Yorkers have to voice their opinions about what is happening in their neighborhood — and make an impact.
And now you — if you're at least 16 years old by April 1st — can apply for a role on your local board.
The 59 community boards across the city are made up of members who are appointed by the borough presidents and City Council members. And borough presidents have opened up the application process.
In an email to constituents, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards asked, "Do you want to serve your community and the families who call it home, but aren't sure what that service might look like? Consider applying to sit on your local community board, a hyperlocal government entity that plays a critical role in considering land use and zoning matters, municipal service delivery and more."
- Dealing with land use and zoning issues. Community boards have an important advisory role and must be consulted on the placement of most municipal facilities in the community. 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.
- Assessing the needs of their own neighborhoods. Community boards assess the needs of their community members and meet with City agencies to make recommendations in the City's budget process.
- Addressing other community concerns. Any issue that affects part or all of a community, from a traffic problem to deteriorating housing, is a proper concern of community boards.
READ MORE: What Do Community Boards Do?
While the positions are not paid, and the board doesn't have veto power when it comes to city laws (the power struggle is real), community boards hold a fair amount of soft power by giving residents a forum to voice their honest concerns. From the size of the San Gennaro festival to concerns about beloved bars being maintained or a dangerous intersections, the boards are also a place where members of city agencies, like the police and sanitation department; elected officials; and business owners also present their findings and plans. Even Woody Allen went to his Upper East Side community board meeting to complain about the unseemly prospect of bike lanes.
And don't you want to bear witness to the intense opinions about outdoor dining?
Details for applying:
- Bronx Community Board application: Due March 4th
- Brooklyn Community Board application: Due March 4th
- Manhattan Community Board application: Due March 1st
- Staten Island Community Board application: Rolling deadline
- Queens Community Board application: Due February 16th
And, as noted earlier, New Yorkers age 16 and 17 are encouraged to apply. Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson said, "I believe that the earlier young people become engaged in community affairs and interact with government officials and agencies, the better they will understand government and become active leaders in their communities. It is important to hear the voices of our youth when planning for our neighborhoods."