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April 21, 2006

Community Benefits Agreements, is it extortion & who benefits?

Community Benefits Agreements have become a standard mechanism for givebacks to the community in exchange for local support for controversial projects.

But the questions linger over who negotiates and signs for the community and if the entire process is just a legal way to extort money from developers without addressing the breadth of community concerns.

Atlantic Yards Report, Systemic changes? Ratner's CBA-compliant architect is already building Downtown Brooklyn towers
Norman Oder uncovers a discrepancy between Forest City Ratner's stated intentions and its actions, as the developer hires one of the most prominent architects in New York City, who happens to be born in Mexico. The move goes towards fulfilling the minority hiring requirement of the CBA, but minorities in Central Brooklyn see little benefit.

Columnist Errol Louis wrote in Our Time Press in January, "At this stage of the game the question should be how and when the dollars will begin flowing into central Brooklyn." Though Louis is an ardent supporter of Ratner's proposal, he makes a good point. The question remains unanswered, as Ratner appears only to be fulfilling the letter of the CBA in defiance of its spirit.

Crain's NY Business, Don't put zoning up for sale in NY
Crain's Publisher Alair Townsend calls on the Mayor and City Council Speaker to rein in private deal making between developers and self-professed representatives of the community, a trend that is resulting in agreements that have "less to do with mitigating adverse impacts than with buying off opposition."

Metro NY, Queens Councilmen seek sweet deal with the Mets
Bloomberg speaks out against efforts to sign a Mets CBA:

At the unveiling of plans for a new Mets’ ballpark two weeks ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg scolded Queens Councilmen who were trying to negotiate a community benefits agreement with the team. He called their threats to stall the project a “demand to get some ransom.”

The Politicker, C.B.A.'s: Sometimes Extortionate, Sometimes Not So Much
Regarding the Mayor's comments (see above) about a Mets' CBA:

It's obvious but just needs to be said: You won't catch Mike Bloomberg saying this about the community benefits agreement undergirding the Nets stadium deal.

Posted by lumi at April 21, 2006 6:52 AM