From the NY Times:
Over the years the Bloomberg administration’s view of community benefits agreements has evolved from warm support in connection with a number of projects, including Yankee Stadium, to adamant opposition. In the case of the armory, the city said that community groups had been given ample opportunity to shape the document soliciting redevelopment proposals and that no benefits agreement was warranted.
Now, in a report that is likely to have considerable influence on policy makers, the New York City Bar Association has urged the city to stop allowing community benefits agreements to be part of the zoning approval process. The report warns, among other things, that the agreements could create an opportunity for corruption.
“It is our recommendation that the city announce that it will not consider C.B.A.’s in making its determinations in the land-use process,” the bar association said in the report last month. The report, which was in the works long before the armory proposal was defeated, also urged the city to declare that it would no longer play a role in “encouraging, monitoring or enforcing the agreements.” The report acknowledged that there was no way to prevent developers from making deals with community groups. But it said the city should get involved, if at all, only when the developer was seeking a public subsidy.
John C. Liu, the city comptroller, has formed a task force to examine community benefit agreements and other issues related to subsidized economic development projects. He said he understood why the bar association wanted to rid the zoning process of the agreements, but he said its approach was idealistic rather than practical. “My emphasis is on what kind of mechanisms exist to make sure that the promised benefits are delivered,” he said.