Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards are composed of 50 volunteer members serving staggered two-year terms– thus, 25 members are appointed (or reappointed) each year. Community Boards are the independent and representative voices of their communities—the most grass-roots form of local government. The Boards are pivotal in shaping their communities and work to enhance and preserve the character of the city’s many unique neighborhoods.
Each Board has a budget, a district manager and staff, and has three distinct responsibilities:
- 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.
Community Boards consider a wide range of issues, including distribution of liquor licenses, consideration of sidewalk café applications, and permits for street fairs and other outdoor events. They may also weigh in issues before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the Board of Standards and Appeals (the city agency dedicated to land-use and zoning regulation), and provide input on proposals from city agencies.
Members are officially appointed by the Manhattan Borough President. Half of the members of these boards are selected unilaterally by the Manhattan Borough President, and half are nominated by the City Council Members whose districts overlap with the Community District.
Community Board members must live, work, or have an otherwise significant interest in the neighborhoods served by the community district, and be a New York City resident. In addition, we look for applicants with histories of community involvement, expertise and skill sets, attendance at board meetings. No more than 25 percent of the members of any board may be New York City employees.
Membership rosters and demographics
The Borough President must ensure adequate representation from different geographic neighborhoods in the district and must consider whether each community’s constituencies are represented.
- Community Board 1 (Financial District, Battery Park City, Tribeca, Seaport)
- Community Board 2 (Greenwich Village, SoHo, NoHo, Little Italy, Hudson Sq., Chinatown)
- Community Board 3 (Chinatown, Lower East Side)
- Community Board 4 (Chelsea, Clinton, Hell’s Kitchen)
- Community Board 5 (Midtown)
- Community Board 6 (Gramercy, Murray Hill, Turtle Bay, Stuyvesant Town/PCV, Kips Bay)
- Community Board 7 (Upper West Side)
- Community Board 8 (Upper East Side)
- Community Board 9 (West Harlem)
- Community Board 10 (Central Harlem)
- Community Board 11 (East Harlem)
- Community Board 12 (Washington Heights, Inwood)
Community Board meetings are managed with a parliamentary structure (much like the City Council or U.S. Congress). Every board has an Executive Committee elected by the board that includes a chair, vice chairs, a secretary and a treasurer. Boards are empowered to establish their own committee structure and procedures, based upon the needs of their districts, and frequently include Land Use and Zoning, Parks and Waterfront, Health and Human Services, Nightlife and Business Applications, Transportation, Landmarks and Preservation, and Education and Youth Services. Each community board member is expected to serve on a minimum of two committees.
All community board meetings are open to the public. The full board of each district meets once a month; meetings rotate locations but are held at the same monthly times. Committees meet more frequently to discuss their individual areas of responsibility.
Borough Board and Borough Service Cabinet
Two borough-wide boards meet each month and bring together representatives from Community Boards. The 2021 meeting calendar is available here.
The Borough Board, consisting of Manhattan’s City Council members and community board chairs, focuses on issues dealing with land use, development, public policy, budget, and other important matters with potential borough wide implications. Manhattan Borough Board meetings generally occur on the third Thursday of each month and are webcast live. Past meeting webcasts are archived on the Borough President’s YouTube channel here.
The Borough Service Cabinet, chaired by the Manhattan Borough President and composed of the district managers of Manhattan’s community boards and representatives from city agencies, focuses on city service delivery and agency responsiveness across the borough.
2021 Application & Interview Process
Applications to join your local community board (or continue your service) are now available here. The deadline to apply is Monday, February 22, 2021.
Prospective members must submit a biography or resume and complete a comprehensive online application explaining why they want to join the board, what skills they offer, and their relationship to their districts. These applications are reviewed and evaluated by an independent screening panel. Qualified applicants are interviewed on the panel’s recommendation by staff members of the Manhattan Borough President’s office. Appointments are made by April 1st and are based on the application, panel recommendation, and interviews.
Current community board members seeking to continue their service are required to fill out a re-application form prior to the expiration of their term. Reappointment is not guaranteed. Re-applying members are subject to the same application process as prospective members but are automatically granted interviews. Members must continue to demonstrate a significant interest in their community board, the ability to make the required time commitment, and a track record of constructive participation.
Each community board member serves for two years and can re-apply at the end of their term. Members are usually expected to serve on a minimum of two committees, typically broken down by issue area and/or neighborhood, as well as attend the monthly board meeting where all committees make a report to the full board membership. Members of community boards serve without compensation but may be reimbursed for actual, necessary out-of-pocket expenses in connection with their responsibilities.
Community board membership is a major time commitment. Members are expected to be active, involved, and maintain a record of good attendance. In addition, they should seek to adhere to the principles of good government: honesty, accountability, and the avoidance of conflicts of interest.