THE ROLE OF COMMUNITY BENEFIT AGREEMENTSIN NEW YORK CITY’S LAND USE PROCESS
March 8, 2010Introduction
A community benefits agreement (CBA) results from negotiations between adeveloper proposing a particular land use and a coalition of community organizationsthatclaims to represent the individuals and groups affected by the proposed development
Ina typical CBA, community members agree to support the developer’s proposed project,or at least promise not to oppose the project or to invoke procedural devices or legalchallenges that might delay or derail the project. In return, the developer agrees toprovide to the community such benefits as assurances of local jobs, affordable housingand environmental improvements.
CBAs are a relatively recent phenomenon across the United States, although theygrow out of a long history of negotiations among developers, land use authorities andpublic officials, and the affected community and various stakeholder groups (such asenvironmental groups ororganized labor) over development proposals that requiregovernmental approval.
The first major CBA, the Los Angeles Staples agreement, wassigned in 2001. Since then, scores of CBAs have been negotiated across the country.
InNew York City, developers and community groups began to use CBAs in the last fewyears. Because most CBAs are relatively new, there is scant evidence, either empirical or
The Association of the Bar of the City of New York's Land Use Committee established a Subcommitteeto review and write a report with respect to Community Benefits Agreements in New York City. TheSubcommittee responsible for drafting this report consisted of Vicki Been, Boxer Family Professor of Law,NYU School of Law; Ross Moskowitz; Wesley O'Brien; and Ethel Sheffer AICP
All members of thesubcommittee participated in their individual capacities; their affiliations are listed only for identificationpurposes and none purported to participate in the deliberations as representatives of their institutions.Laura Wolf Powers served on the subcommittee early in its deliberations, but moved from the City and wasnot able to participate in final discussions. Professor Been would like to thank Matthew Jacobs, NYU ’10,Michael Nadler, NYU ’11 and Carolyn Nagy NYU ’10 for their superb research assistance in thepreparation of the report, and Bethany O’Neill for her tireless administrative support through many drafts.
Julian Gross, with Greg LeRoy and Madeline Janis-Aparicio,
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Compensated Siting Proposals: Is it Time to Pay Attention?
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No Justice, No Job Growth: How Los Angeles is Making Big-Time Developers Create Decent Jobs
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