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June 14, 2006

In Major Projects, Agreeing Not to Disagree

The NY Times
By Terry Pristin

An article about the popularity and pitfalls of Community Benefits Agreements:

Since 2001, when a comprehensive community benefits agreement was struck for a hotel-and-entertainment project now being developed in Los Angeles next to the Staples Center sports arena, the trend has quickly spread to other cities, including Denver, Milwaukee, Chicago and Washington. Advocates of C.B.A.'s, as they are known, see them as an outgrowth of the Smart Growth movement — the idea that development decisions should address a broad range of social and economic issues like transportation, jobs and housing.

In New York, however, some critics are wondering if this trend is threatening to distort the planning process. They say the danger is that local groups will agree not to oppose the projects in exchange for favors that may be unrelated to the project's impact on the neighborhood.

Critics of the Atlantic Yards (whose developer is a partner to The New York Times Company in its new headquarters building on Eighth Avenue) and other agreements have questioned whether the groups signing the document really speak for the community. "Groups pop up and you're not sure who they represent," said Patricia A. Jones, the co-chairwoman of the Manhattan Community Board 9 task force on Columbia University's expansion in Manhattanville. Ms. Jones contends that development plans ought to be reviewed by community boards, which are currently excluded from the C.B.A. process, before the benefits are meted out. "They can look at the bigger picture," she said.


Times article on CBA flaws: some dismay but few specifics re Atlantic Yards deal
The man who writes faster than most people read, Norman Oder, has already posted commentary on Atlantic Yards Report, explaining how the Times missed an opportunity to compare the prototype agreement for the Staples Center in LA to the "illegitimate" agreements Ratner signed with individual groups in Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at June 14, 2006 8:53 AM