If you want to get involved with local government, your Community Board may be a good place to start. Community boards work to meet the needs of the districts they represent. This includes hearing complaints from residents, dealing with land and zoning issues, and making recommendations to city agencies.
The city is broken up into 59 districts, each of which has it’s own Community Board. There are 12 districts in the Bronx, 18 in Brooklyn, 12 in Manhattan, 14 in Queens and 3 in Staten Island. Each board is made up of 50 unsalaried members appointed by the borough president. Half of the board members are endorsed by their district’s City Council members.
Board members serve two-year terms, with half of the board facing reappointment each year. Every two years members must be reappointed by the borough president. There is no limit on how many terms a board member can serve.
Boards hold a meeting once a month that is open to the public. The locations of these meetings may change, but they are usually held at the same time each month. Boards post the times of their meetings on their websites.
Each board hires a District Manager, who serves as the day-to-day administrator of the Community Board. A board also elects a chairperson who also serves on a separate Borough Board along with the borough president and City Council members who represent the borough. The borough board manages plans for the borough and settles disputes between community boards. Chairpersons are only allowed to vote on borough board decisions that will directly affect their district.
Community boards are broken up into subcommittees. Committees vary among districts, as boards choose the committees they think will best serve the district. Committees help decide what issues will be brought to the board at the monthly meeting. Community boards often appoint non-members to committees to add an outside perspective.
To join a community board you must be a New York City resident and live, work or have significant interest in the district of the board you wish to join. The borough presidents advise that you attend a few meetings before you consider applying. You must then submit an application to your borough president via these links:
In addition to your application, you must also submit a resume or biography. You will also be required to verify your New York City residency.
After all documents have been submitted, your application will be reviewed by the borough president’s office. The review process varies between boroughs, but applicants who stand out will be interviewed by members of the borough president’s staff. The borough president will then make the final decision on appointments.
Board Members are usually appointed sometime between April and June. Most of the Boroughs have passed their deadlines for 2013 applications. While deadlines vary between boroughs, deadlines are usually between January and March.
While it may be too late to join a Community Board this year, you can still get involved by attending meetings and joining committees as a non-member.