At a hearing of the City Council's Committee on Governmental Operations Thursday, issues of community board function will be taken up through bills to introduce term limits for board members and to add professional urban planners to board staff.
The term-limit bill, introduced by Council Member Daniel Dromm in December last year, would allow community board appointees to serve up to six consecutive two-year terms. Currently, there is no limit on how many terms a community board member can serve. The bill, co-sponsored by Council Member Ben Kallos, who chairs the government operations committee, would enact the six-term limit starting for members appointed in April 2016.
The bill provides exemption for current board members who would be grandfathered along current no-limit rules. Community board members are appointed by borough presidents; there are 59 boards in the five boroughs.
"This is just one of the areas in which community boards should be reformed," said Lauren George, associate director of good government group Common Cause New York. "In terms of increasing representation, this will be a big step in improving the way community boards represent the changing dynamics of the city. When experienced members basically get a lifetime membership, they tend to have entrenched interests. They don't reflect the neighborhood, age and ethnic diversity, or sometimes even gender diversity."
George also said recruitment to community boards is extremely challenging, which is especially true in certain parts of the city, and term limits could encourage new people to join.