Friday, March 31, 2006

Community Benefit Agreements

Next week our new mayor and village trustees begin their term of office. One of the big issues now on the table is the question of rezoning the Lake Flower Avenue Village sandpit site. This would be an appropriate time to learn about community benefit agreements.

Google 'community benefit agreements' and you will get more information than you need.

From good jobs ny website:

What is a CBA?

A Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) is a legally binding contract negotiated between a developer and a coalition representing broad spectrum of community members impacted by the development. In exchange for community members' support for the project, the developer agrees to provide certain benefits. Existing CBAs include provisions such as funds for affordable housing and open space, card check neutrality for workers who choose to organize unions, and living wage goals for workers employed at the development.

In order to be meaningful, a CBA must incorporate concerns from a wide variety of stakeholders that come together as one coalition, and must lead to contributions from the developer and support for the project from coalition members that would not have emerged in the absence of CBA negotiations.

Who participates in a CBA?

Developers - to get a project through its approval process as quickly and smoothly as possible, with the public support of local stakeholders and elected officials.

Residents - to have a say in shaping the development projects in your neighborhood, to minimize the disruption they may cause, and to ensure that they contribute to the local quality of life.

Job seekers - to improve access to jobs for unemployed and under-employed people in the impacted area, and to support the inclusion of job quality standards, for example living wages, health benefits, and paid vacation.

Business owners - to give input on how best to increase local foot traffic and minimize disruptions while making sure that new-comers are not given an unfair competitive advantage over existing businesses through public subsidies that come without any strings attached.

Unions - to expand opportunities for existing members and ensure that unorganized workers can exercise their right to join a union.

City officials - to facilitate the completion of worthy projects, help craft economic development outcomes that balance the needs of city residents, businesses, and tax-payers, and encourage the types of businesses that invest - and remain - in the neighborhoods in which they locate.

Wal-Mart should have no problem with such an agreement because they are concerned about communities. Everyone participates, everyone compromises, everyone wins.

An example of a community benefit agreement can be found here.

Read about the first NY CBA here.

Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market Community Benefits Agreement here (pdf).


Anonymous said...

Do you have any examples of CBAs between Walmart and municipalities?

Or of _any_ CBAs between developers and municipalities in New York State?

I'm don't believe that NY municipalities can enter into these legally.....

Anonymous said...

" A Community Benefit Agreement (CBA) is a legally binding contract negotiated between a developer and a coalition representing broad spectrum of community members impacted by the development."

Great. Except there is one problem: Walmart doesn't negotiate with coalitions. If it came to that, they'd choose to build in the next community down the road in the market region.

Adirondack Wal-Mart said...

The example agreement cited is in Brooklyn NY I believe.

Anonymous said...

The last person who commented is probably correct. Wal-Mart doesn't negotiate with anyone. They come on their terms only. And somehow I wouldn't trust them to honor anything they negotiated.
This community benefit agreement sounds nice, but when you're dealing with such a huge corporation, don;t expect them to negotiate with anyone. And yes, they would probably go elsewhere rather than have to negotiate with community leaders.