Yesterday, City Comptroller John Liu released his highly anticipated (at least within certain wonkish circles) report on Community Benefits Agreements, the deals developers strike with communities in the hopes of gaining their support for projects. The problem is, CBAs are drafted outside the public review process, often with the involvement of a few community groups who tend to benefit more than the community at large.
As development grows ever more contentious in the city, CBAs have become more popular, at times creating more conflict than they address. Atlantic Yards is a prime example. The Kingsbridge Armory is another, where the CBA was part of the reason for the project’s eventual demise at the City Council.
Liu’s report has gained notice less for what’s inside than for who’s name is at the bottom — or isn’t — as a handful of members of the 29-member task force that came up with the thing have boycotted it. This is probably a good thing, as too often such documents please everyone and serve no one.
But how hard can it really be to figure out a CBA? After all, 15 Bronx high school students did. They even created a nifty poster [PDF] to explain it all, with funny talking heads dancing around a Kingsbridge Armory. Their veredict? Long live living wages.