Applications are now open for Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards (CBs), according to changes made to the Manhattan Borough President’s (MBP) website on Tuesday morning. For Upper West Siders, that means Community Board 7 (CB7) specifically.
Interested citizens must live, work, or otherwise have a significant interest in the geographic area represented by their board, and they have until 5pm on Tuesday, March 1, to submit their applications.
Community boards are the most local form of city government, each comprising 50 members appointed by borough presidents and city council members for two-year, staggered terms—so 25 spots are open each year for prospective and returning members. According to the MBP’s website, while they handle a wide range of issues, CBs have three primary objectives:
- “Monitoring the delivery of city services such as sanitation and street maintenance;
- Planning and reviewing land use applications including zoning changes; and
- Making recommendations for each year’s city budget.”
All Upper West Siders should feel free to apply. Historically, CBs—including CB7—have failed to attract a demographic balance that reflects the residents, vocations, and lifestyles of the area. But residents shouldn’t just blame officials for this.
Government is made up of the people who show up. While it’s true that civic participation is never equally accessible to everyone, despite progress in that area, there is also always a group of people who have the resources and skills to participate, but don’t. If you’ve been a civic bystander, consider being a front-runner instead. Styled another way: put up or shut up.
Toward the end of better representation, freshly elected MBP Mark Levine has added an extra question to the CB application this cycle: “Do you own a vehicle?”
He promised this question almost a year ago as a candidate, adding, “I do feel that people for whom getting around means mass transit, walking or taking a bicycle are underrepresented on a lot of boards.”
Appointments to CB7 will be made by April.