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'All Politics is Local': Get Involved by Joining Your Community Board

By Amy Zimmer | January 30, 2017 10:48am
 A Community Board 6 in Brooklyn, discussing  a plan for a new private school.
A Community Board 6 in Brooklyn, discussing a plan for a new private school.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

MANHATTAN — For New Yorkers feeling frustrated by the political climate in Washington, D.C., it may be time to take heart in the common phrase “all politics is local” and join a local community board.

There are 59 boards across the city made up of roughly 50 volunteer members that play an important advisory role when it comes to local — and often controversial — matters like land use and zoning.

Boards also craft recommendations about the city’s budget and services and provide a forum for residents, business owners and others to address neighborhood concerns, from where to put Citibike stations to whether a new restaurant should be granted a liquor license or where street noise is keeping residents awake at night.

“Community Board members help make New York work: Negotiating to build affordable housing, planning safer streets, creating and preserving public spaces, and keeping our city government’s agencies accountable to each of our neighborhoods,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said in a statement.

Brewer — who is hoping to get young people on boards now that the minimum age has been lowered to 16 — put her borough’s application online three years ago to make the process easier, making Manhattan the first borough to do so.

Her office is accepting applications for more than 300 seats on her borough’s 12 community boards through Feb. 3, which is the same day applications are due for The Bronx’s 12 community boards.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ office is soliciting applications for the borough’s 18 boards through Feb. 17 — and is accepting applications online this year for the first time.

“The men and women who serve on Brooklyn’s community boards make our neighborhoods stronger, amplifying the voices of the residents they represent,” Adams said in a statement.

“Community boards provide invaluable forums that help us ensure city services are delivered and hyper-local issues find solutions.”

The deadline for applications to Queens boards was Jan. 27.

For Staten Island, applications are accepted throughout the year, to be reviewed when there’s a vacancy. At this time, however, there are no vacancies, according to the Staten Island Borough President’s office.

"Community boards may be New York City's most grassroots level of government,” Brewer said, “but they are deeply involved in our city's biggest policy questions.”

What else you need to know to apply:

► To serve on a community board, you must be a New York City resident and live or work or have some professional stake or “significant interest” in that area.

► Boards now accept applicants as young as 16 thanks to a 2015 state law.  

► Terms of service are two years.

► You apply through your borough president’s office, which appoints members. Half of the members are selected by borough presidents and half are nominated by City Council members.

► Terms begin in April.