Wouldn’t it be great to give residents an opportunity to initiate planning projects in their neighborhood? Voice their opinion on City plans? Influence the allocation of funds to their community? Contribute to the overall quality of life in their community?
In New York City, people can do all that, and more. The opportunity for meaningful public participation in local government exists. It’s called a Community Board.
Fifty nine Community Boards throughout the city provide New Yorkers with an opportunity to be part of local government. Mandated by the City charter, Community Boards have an important advisory role in land use and zoning matters, the City budget, and municipal services. Community Boards enable residents to initiate planning projects; comment on City plans; influence the allocation of funds to their community; and improve their overall quality of life.
With nearly 3,000 volunteering members and about 180 staff people, Community Boards have the ability to assist residents who want to make a difference in their neighborhood.
How can technology empower Community Boards? Building on Community Boards’ own experience, new tools can complement and strengthen existing methods. Simple tools can maximize citizen engagement by improving Boards’ visibility, communication, outreach, data collection, and more.
Community Boards are well-placed to become exemplary technology users for public participation in New York City. In addition to an accomplished position of leadership and local trust, Community Boards have the established local networks to gather feedback, investigate issues and sustain dialogue.
This website is the result of a research project conducted by OpenPlans, informed by conversations with fifteen Community Boards citywide. Through these conversations we identify Community Boards’ common needs and challenges related to public participation, and we give some suggestions for new tools and solutions.