Proudly serving the communities of Astoria, Old Astoria Village, Dutch Kills, Queensbridge, Queensplaza North, Ditmars, Ravenswood, Steinway, Garden Bay, Woodside, and Rikers Island.
New York City Community Boards "are autonomous City agencies and members are City officers." Community Boards have no more than 50 voting members and represent communities of no more than 250,000 residents. The 59 Community Boards of New York City are supposed to "encourage and facilitate the participation of citizens within City government within their communities." In 2013, each community board had a budget of $206,895 (not including rent and utilities).
Each board has up to 50 "hard-working voluntary voting members." In fact, some members of Queens Community Board 1 work so hard they cannot attend monthly meetings. At any given meeting, generally 30 or 35 members of Queens Community Board 1 will be present. Half the members are appointed each year to 2-year terms. Reappointment is common. Many members have served for decades.
Community Boards themselves cannot order any city agency or official to perform any task, but they have a certain amount of clout with elected officals and city agencies, paricularly over issues of "land use." Community Boards also provide helpful cover to local elected officials when they take positions at odds with the majority of people in the community.
The City of New York says, "members are selected by the Borough Presidents from among active, involved people of each community." But in reality most members are simply appointed by their local city council representantive. Of course there is no relation between donating money to a council member and serving on a community board. The fact that seventy-five percent of Queens Community Board 1 members have donated money to a Vallone campaign won't help as much with a Vallone elected in the area.
There is no residency requirement to serve on a community board. Since these figures aren't made public, nobody knows (or at least nobody is telling). But maybe 20 percent of the members of Queens Community Board 1 do not even live in the community. Since members may not vote on anything "that could result in a personal and direct economic gain to the community board member or to anyone associated with the community board member," these non-resident members deserve special commendation for their altruistic dedication to service!
Board meetings are open to the public and are generally held on the third Tuesday of each month. Please attend. At these meetings, members address items of concern to local business owners and developers. For instance, if local zoning regulation "presents an economic hardship or practical difficulty," you can apply to the Board of Standards and Appeals for a zoning variance. If you have community board support, your request will almost assuredly be approved.
Community Boards also improve "the quality of life for all New Yorkers." But when residents' quality-of-life conflicts with business interests, we will side with businesses. And when business interests conflict with car parking, we'll generally vote for parking. Please see our accomplishments page.
Despite serving an area that is majority non-white, the makeup of Queens Community Board 1 represents the area's proud recent history. The majority of Queens Community Board 1 members are of Italian or Greek descent. More than half the members of Queens Community Board 1 are over 60 years old. A few members are nonagenarians! Maybe it's something in the air.
For more infomation, please visit Community Boards Explained.
To learn more about community boards, contact Queens Borough President Melinda Katz or your City Council Representative. For Queens Community Board 1, your City Council Member is Costa "Constatine the Great" Constantinides (District 22, north of 34th Ave.). If you live in District 26 (south of 34th Ave and from the Woodside Houses to the BQE, north of Northern Blvd), you are well served by the Honorable Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. Others in Jimmy Van Bramer's District 26 should contact Queens Community Board 2.