About Community Boards

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Community Board?

New York City is divided into 59 geographic Community Districts, each one having an appointed Community Board. The Community Boards are municipal bodies of up to 50 representative Board Members. Board Members are appointed by their respective Borough President, half of them at the recommendation of their local City Council Member. They serve in a voluntary capacity for two year staggered terms. Board Members are your neighbors – people who live, work, own a business, or have some other significant interest in the Community District. The Community Board hires a District Manager who is responsible for running the District Office.

What does the Community Board do?

The Community Board is the official municipal body whose primary mission is to advise elected officials and government agencies on matters affecting the social welfare of the district. Manhattan Community Board 11 (CB11) meets on the third Tuesday of each month, except during July and August. All meetings are open to the public. In an attempt to maximize accessibility, the general meetings are held at different locations within the district. We are your local non-partisan interface to the many offices and agencies of City government.

How does the Community Board function?

The Community Board’s general meetings are run according to Roberts Rules of Order. While the public is encouraged to attend and observe Community Board proceedings, only Board Members can discuss and vote on motions before it. The Community Boards were created by City Charter, and their roles and responsibilities are defined in Chapters 69 and 70. They also must operate within all applicable City, State and Federal laws that govern public bodies. CB11 also has its own set of by-laws.

We encourage the public to attend the Community Board’s various Public Hearings, committee meetings, informational meetings and special events to participate actively in the items before the Community Board at the most grassroots level. All meetings of the Community Board are open to the public, and are posted on our online Calendar.

Who does CB11 represent?

CB11 represents the community of East Harlem which is bounded by 96th Street, 142nd Street, Fifth Avenue, the Harlem River, the East River and includes Randall’s Island & Ward’s Island.

What issues does CB11 get involved in?

Community Boards in general have three distinct areas of focus – land use, budget, and service delivery. CB11, in its advisory capacity, sponsors public meetings where topical issues involving the projects, programs and policies that affect the district will be presented, discussed and, at times, debated in an open forum.

Land Use.  The Community Board routinely reviews applications that involve the acquisition, disposition and/or significant change of use of City-owned properties.  It hosts Public Hearings and sponsors open meetings to discuss and formulate recommendations on land use matters coming before it.  The Community Board is the first stage at which land use matters are formally reviewed in accordance with the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).

In addition to matters pertaining to City property, the Community Board also reviews items related to private properties where property owners are seeking approval to use, develop or otherwise modify a property in a way that would not automatically be allowable under the property’s zoning designation. Other forms of land use reviews may involve properties in Landmark Districts or voluntary informational presentations by property owners.

Budget.  The Community Boards are required to submit to the Mayor and City Council their Capital (projects) and Expense (programs and services) budget priorities for consideration in the formulation of the City’s budget.  CB11 is constantly receiving input from the public on projects, programs and services that are needed within the district. While the Community Board submits budget priorities on behalf of the district for consideration, the final decision over which projects, programs and services get funded in the City’s budget is made by the Mayor and the City Council, with input from the Borough Presidents.

Service Delivery. The day-to-day processing of citizen complaints and requests for municipal services are handled by the District Office under the supervision of the District Manager.  The District Office is prepared to take complaints and requests for service from any constituent of the district.  It is important to contact the District Office with complaints and requests for services so that the Community Board can monitor and work toward improving service delivery in the district. Calls such as these also provide the Community Board with important indicators of the levels of resources that might be most needed in the district, reflected by the types of calls received.

How do I speak at a Community Board meeting?

A section of every general Community Board meeting is set aside for the board to hear from the public. At the front of the meeting room there will be a sign-in sheet labeled “Public Speakers” where anyone is invited to sign in to speak for up to three minutes. The Chairperson will acknowledge speakers in the order they sign in. No pre-registration is necessary.

What does the District Office do?

The CB11 District Office has two primary functions – to process citizen complaints and requests for services, and to provide administrative support for the Community Board. The District Office maintains all the public records of the activities of the Community Board and is responsible for setting up and preparing notices of all Community Board meetings and functions.  Additionally, the District Office reviews Street Activity Permit applications for street fairs, block parties and other street closures, monitors the delivery of municipal services and, in general, acts as a one-stop shopping point for information and referrals pertaining to all City government matters. The District Office is a professional, non-partisan office. There are no fees for any services provided.

What kinds of complaints does CB11 handle?

Just about any complaint that involves a municipal service can be called in to the District Office.  This includes such items as, but is not limited to:  reporting a pothole, tree that needs pruning, missing or damaged signs, malfunctioning street light, clogged catch basin, missed garbage collection.

These are some examples of the more common complaints that are called in to the District Office. By acting as the community’s eyes and ears and reporting items such as this to the Community Board you can take away the satisfaction of having made a positive contribution to improving the quality of life in your neighborhood. A common mistake people make is that they assume that someone else will report a problem; many problems go unreported because of this.  You have the power to make a positive change in your community with just one phone call!

How do I report a complaint?

Email us at mn11@cb.nyc.gov.  Call the Board Office at 212-831-8929. Write to us or visit our Board Office at 1664 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10035 during regular business hours. We want to hear from you!

Please note all pertinent information (e.g., exact location or street address, cross streets, etc.) related to the type of complaint you wish to report.  Not having sufficient information may only serve to delay our efforts to help resolve the problem. We suggest that you have as much information as possible available at the time that you call.  Remember, in order for us to help resolve your complaint, you must help us by accurately identifying the problem. The District Office will follow up with you in writing.

When do the committees meet?

The various committees of CB11 meet on regular fixed nights. We occasionally have to reschedule meetings largely due to holiday conflicts but sometimes because we will hold joint meetings sponsored by more than one committee. All meetings are open to the public and are posted on our website Calendar which is updated frequently.