Community District 3

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Community Boards vs. Community Districts [1][edit]

What's the difference between a Community Board and a Community District? Short answer: A Community Board is a group of people and a Community District is a geographic area.

Community Board[edit]

When New York City’s voters approved a new City Charter in 1975, they gave Community Boards a formal role in the land use review process (Uniform Land Use Review Process or ULURP), the preparation of the capital and expense budgets, and monitoring the delivery of city services. This marked a significant step in a then twenty-five year experiment with neighborhood governance.

This followed an experiment begun in 1951, when Manhattan Borough President Robert F. Wagner established twelve "Community Planning Councils" to advice him on planning and budgetary matters, appointing 15 to 20 members to each.

The 1963 City Charter, adopted during Robert Wagner's third term as Mayor, extended the neighborhood governance concept citywide by establishing "Community Planning Boards."

While the Boards' role as local planners had its genesis in Wagner's 1951 initiative, their role in monitoring the delivery of city services can be traced to the "Little City Halls" established by Mayor John Lindsay in the mid-1970s. Created on an experimental basis in a few community districts, these outposts were headed by a District Manager, or DM, appointed by the Mayor to oversee the delivery of City services in the district. Among the DM's duties was chairing a "Service Cabinet" comprised of officers of varying rank from key city agencies. Today the DM has much the same role, but is selected and accountable to the Community Board rather than the Mayor.

After a fifty year evolution, today's Community Boards are a blend of Mayor Wagner’s Community Planning Councils with Mayor Lindsay's Little City Halls. With a role in both planning and monitoring service delivery, the Boards came to be known simply as "Community Boards."

The issues the Boards deal with are as varied as the communities they represent. At one end of the spectrum, a Board may conduct a study and issue a report on the likely impact of a complex billion dollar development proposal like the 2012 Olympics; at the other, its district office may be asked to get a "No Parking" sign replaced.

Over the years, there has been a steady growth in acceptance of Community Boards by their communities and by agencies of the City. The evolution continues in the direction of decentralization and citizen engagement.

Each Community Board serves a geographic area called a Community District.

Community District[edit]

8,500,000 people live on the 308 square miles of land that is New York City. To facilitate the delivery of city services and local governance, the City is divided into community districts. The City Charter (Section 2700) directed the City Planning Commission to create these districts using the following criteria:

  • They must lie within the boundaries of a single borough and coincide with historic, geographic, and identifiable communities from which the city has developed;
  • Be suitable for the efficient and effective delivery of services by municipal agencies;
  • Be compact and contiguous and have a population of not more than two hundred fifty thousand persons.

Following these guidelines, the City Planning Department prepared a map dividing the city into 59 districts, each several square miles in size and having a population of 100,000 to 250,000.

The City Charter requires that the community district map be reviewed every decade (beginning in 1994) to determine if population shifts warrant a redrawing of district lines.

The 2000 Census counted 169,000 people living on community district 3’s 2.8 square miles of earth.

Each community district has a Community Board to oversee the delivery of city services and facilitate local governance.

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