Photo Courtesy of DCP
This screenshot shows just one part of Queens Community Board 10’s Community District Profile.
By Forum Staff
The de Blasio administration Tuesday unveiled a “new and improved, easy-to-use” digital platform for the Big Apple’s 59 community boards to formally submit their annual needs and budget requests to the City, with easier access to relevant data to make a stronger case for such requests, according to the Department of City Planning.
The webtool, Community District Priorities, will make it easier for community boards and the public to participate in the budget process and for NYC agencies to access community board requests, with prioritization and more supporting details and at an earlier date in the budget cycle, DCP officials noted this week. Higher quality submissions typically lead to more active dialogue between the boards and agency planners at budget season and throughout the year. Agencies will use the information to focus services where needed most. Community boards will also be able to more readily share their priorities with the public and elected officials, once they are submitted. City Planning reps posited that well-considered community board budget requests “meaningfully influence” decisions made during the annual budget process.
DCP also indicated this week that the agency will provide training and support to assist community boards in using the new system most effectively.
A vital part of annual community board submissions is their “top 3 pressing issues,” and the rankings are used to further help the administration align its efforts with community needs. Last year’s most frequently mentioned issue was “affordable housing,” with 30 of 59 boards nominating it as their top need. “Schools” and “traffic” followed, with 19 and 15 community boards respectively. When broken down by borough, some top priorities were: “affordable housing” and “quality of life” for The Bronx, “affordable housing” and “schools” for Brooklyn, “affordable housing” and “trash removal/cleanliness” for Manhattan, “schools,” “traffic” and “street flooding” for Queens and “traffic” for Staten Island. One of the least-identified issues for last year among community boards across the city was “crime,” DCP noted.
According to the administration, Community District Priorities provides many functions that make it even easier for Community Boards to advocate for their neighborhoods, including: access available from any computer with an internet connection; links to relevant tools/sources, such as DCP’s Population FactFinder, as well as data from other agencies (school seats, crime statistics, health services), helping CBs describe and more fully substantiate their needs; more intuitive interface, for easy navigation between parts of a submission; ability to “drag-and-drop” budget requests into a prioritized order; simpler printing and reporting, letting users more easily share drafts with board members and various stakeholders as well as post it on their websites; and secure collaboration, allowing multiple users to edit a document simultaneously.
“It’s clear that community perspectives are a foundational step in planning and budget decisions—and enshrined as a guiding principle of the City’s 10-Year Capital Strategy. This new platform will make it even easier for community boards in all boroughs to provide their priorities, in a manner that the City can easily and promptly digest,” said DCP Chief Operating Officer Jon Kaufman.