Neighborhood Intel

Make like Ray and join your community board (but don't expect to be put in charge)

By Virginia K. Smith | March 16, 2015 - 1:45PM

Per usual, Ray is the only Girls character worth taking cues from (or even paying attention to at all, really, except maybe Hannah's dad, Tad), and last night he achieved a major victory: landing a spot as chair of his local Community Board. Of course, that's not actually possible for a person who's only been to one previous board meeting, but still, we're happy for him, despite the puzzling Marnie fixation. (Note to Ray: Shosh is way more interesting than Marnie.)

If you're itching to follow in Ray's footsteps and chair your local board (find out which one represents your 'hood here), first you've got to start attending meetings as a civilian, as Curbed points out, then work your way up to "public member"—an appointed position that won't give you any voting power. After that, you'll have to wait until the board positions come up for renewal every other year, and angle to get nominated by one of your local city council members (ultimately, these positions are appointed by borough presidents).

So no, an impassioned speech probably won't end with you heading up your local board, but you can still get involved. While CBs are most often in the news for attempted bans on local bars (as we've written previously, they only have the power to make "recommendations" on this front), they do often play an important role in conversations about local development and zoning, and largely exist to address resident concerns about issues like street clean-up and, yes, traffic issues, then present them to higher-up local authorities. 

It may not seem like there's a ton of opportunity for eager, idealistic newcomers, but as Bedford + Bowery points out, recent legislation has allowed neighborhood residents as young as 16 to join their local boards. Some boards have even been mulling the idea of term limits so the same residents can't occupy a spot on the local board for decades on end. If you want to get in on the ground level—and want to have at least the same amount of input in your neighborhood as the local teen population—now's the time to get started.


Find peace and quiet, even if you live above a bar

Who really runs your neighborhood nightlife? Why community boards can't ban bars

9 NYC maps to consult before your next move

The 24 best NYC neighborhood blogs: 2015 edition

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.