Learn more about Community Boards

Community Boards are the voice of the people

WHAT WE DO

Community Boards afford the citizenry the opportunity to have their voices heard. This input is helpful in making decisions about how best to use city resources, including land and tax dollars.

Over the years, modifications to the City Charter have given Community Boards a formal role in decisions on land use, preparation of capital and expense budgets, and monitoring service delivery.

Community Boards hold meetings every month that are open to the public. Boards also hold public hearings so that citizens can voice their opinions and concerns about issues related to their district. Matters are voted on by the Board, and recommendations are forwarded to the relevant agencies and/or elected officials.

The 59 Community Districts

Land Use

Before the City can acquire property for use by the City, or dispose of property owned by the City, the action is subjected to ULURP – Uniformed Land Use Review Procedure.

As part of the ULURP process, the matter must come before the community board at a public hearing where residents within and outside the community can present testimony. The agency applying for consideration under the ULURP procedure must also attend the hearing to respond to community concerns/questions.

The community board votes and makes recommendation to the Department of City Planning.

Zoning

Individuals wishing to construct premises contrary to the zoning regulations must apply for a variance to the Board of Standards and Appeals.

These applications also come before the board for public hearing. Recommendation regarding the application for change in use is submitted to the Board of Standards and Appeals.

Permits & Passes

If your not for profit organization would like to have a street fair, block party or subway passes to visit the Bronx Wildlife Center (or any city attraction), your community board can help you.

Capital & Expense Budget

The community board is mandated by the NYC Charter to participate in the City’s budget process.

The process begins in June with consultations at the district level and moves on to consultations at the borough level; public hearings scheduled by the board, the borough president, the city council before the budget is adopted. Members of the public are encouraged to attend these hearings and to testify.

Citizen Complaints

Help to resolve complaints from community residents regarding service delivery.

For example: If a resident has a problem with Sanitation (garbage was not picked up, the street was not swept); or with Transportation (there’s a pothole in front of my house, or, my street needs resurfacing); Environmental Protection (sewer or water main problems, catch basins, flooding, street leaks), Parks and Recreation (park maintenance, park reconstruction).

These are just a few of the service delivery problems that the community board will work with the agency to correct.

How we started

Community Boards were started in 1951 by Mayor Robert Wagner, then the Manhattan Borough President, to give the citizenry an opportunity to participate in governing the city. Twelve Community Planning Councils were established to advise the Borough President on planning and budgetary matters.

The adoption of the 1963 City Charter during Mayor Wagner’s third term extended this neighborhood concept to the other boroughs, establishing community planning boards, which became known simply as community boards.

Subsequent adoption of the City Charter in 1975, and again in 1979, gave the community boards a formal role in decisions in land use, preparation of capital and expense budgets, and monitoring of service delivery.

The 1989 adoption of the Charter basically solidified all these functions, that have been codified (put into law) and mandates that the Board must participate. There are 59 Community Districts in the City of New York – 18 of which are in Brooklyn.

Why we're here

In a nutshell – the community board is responsible for monitoring the services delivered to this community by other New York City agencies and for making recommendations for improvement in those services through the budget process and advocacy efforts.