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The Sleeping Giant: Community Benefit Agreements and Urban Development

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... In the late 1990s and early 2000, a new form of civic participation model, Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) became popular in urban redevelopment practice and to claim public subsidies by developers in North America. Musil [27] (p. 829) defines the CBA process as "a developer enters into a private contract, usually with a coalition of community, faith-based, or special interest groups in exchange for their support, cooperation, or forbearance regarding the proposed development". ...
... However, Wolf-Powers [9] (p. 217) stated that CBA is perhaps the most controversial among the various VC mechanisms and there exists a dual perspective on CBA Musil [27] (p. 842) cited that there were about 30 CBA-based projects in USA as of 2012, and few states have CBA regulations in place. ...
... 842) cited that there were about 30 CBA-based projects in USA as of 2012, and few states have CBA regulations in place. This paper briefly reviewed the findings of the Musil [27] pilot study of various CBAs with particular attention to two CBAs namely; Atlanta Beltline CBA and Gates-Cherokee CBA. The former CBA is about the Atlanta Beltline light rail track around the city, and appropriate area redevelopment along the corridor through creation of a tax allocation district, whose revenue will fund redevelopment area improvements. ...
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Increasingly, cities around the world are seeking innovative financial mechanisms to build rail transit projects. Land value capture (VC) is a financing mechanism to fund urban rail transit. Often VC mechanisms are viewed only as a financing tool applied in relation to increased land values from the administration and legislation perspectives, without actively involving the community in the process. The lack of such participation has resulted in the under collection of the true value established. The transit beneficiary community and city tax payers are especially important stakeholders in this process as their willingness to participate is really critical to the overall VC success and transport outcome. This paper introduces a participatory sustainability approach to enable a more deliberated stakeholder engagement intervention across the VC life cycle. A four-step "Participatory Strategic Value Capture (PSVC)" framework is proposed offering step-by-step guidance toward facilitating a meaningful stakeholder dialogue, deliberation, and collaboration around the stated engagement interests. The PSVC framework, applied to the proposed Bangalore sub-urban rail project in India, has demonstrated the importance of stakeholder engagement using deliberated participatory approaches from a win-win perspective.
... Lerman (2006) demonstrates that Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) regulation enables affordable housing, mostly by enforcing per unit or percentage development fees. Musil (2012) and DePass (2006) use the policy instrument of Community Benefit Agreements (CBA) to underscore ways of providing more viable affordable housing at the site level. Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) also provide intervention for affordable housing (Shamsuddin and Cross, 2019). ...
... To reduce economic and financial barriers, the use of multi-stakeholder agreements (Musil, 2012;De Pass, 2006) is vital for the sites. Of most prominence in Mission Bay are the owner participation agreements that bind the public community-infrastructure department and the private developers. ...
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Brownfield development incorporates both private and public costs due to the contamination of land. Furthermore, brownfield sites generate negative externalities on real estate viability, and are perceived to be risky and costly for development. Viability risk makes affordable housing development on brownfield sites even more financially and economically challenging. To understand this issue, this paper introduces a conceptual model to analyse and overcome the economic and financial barriers to meet both community and environmental concerns, as well as verifying how it holds in practice via case studies that cover the development of three large scale brownfield sites that integrate affordable housing in the City of San Francisco. Significant barriers to overcome include (1) engaging with economic geography rationale; (2) integrating with economic viability and sustainability concerns; (3) increasing affordable housing quality; and (4) transcending scale to improve policy tool efficacy. Conclusions argue that viability needs to consider cost-quality both internally and externally for high-quality affordable housing units in large-scale brownfield environments.
... Essentially, the "burden" of the CBA rests on the developer, and the degree of community support and opposition influences the approvals and subsidies that the developer receives (Gross et al., 2005, p. 10). Rather than a formalized signed agreement, a CBA is sometimes established to secure political support between a community and a developer (Musil, 2012). ...
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The national economic position of Black Americans has for decades included unemployment rates that are double those of Whites and a racial wealth gap of 13 to 1. Barriers to employment in the construction industry are among the many contributing factors. In 2010, I participated in the creation of an alliance to challenge the exclusion of African American organizations from discussions on the Oakland Army Base redevelopment project. This paper introduces the broad range of urban activist scholarship and then describes this particular activist campaign and its success in raising the percentage of hours worked by African Americans in construction jobs on this project. It uses a critical race theory framework to explore the necessity of a race-conscious approach to campaigns on such issues as local hire. It also describes the methodology of a long-term resident participating in the daily life of a city as a scholar-activist analyzing the urban issues that emerge. The paper concludes with recommendations to activists, policymakers, and scholars.
... While there are variations among different CBAs, commentators have described certain features that are somewhat common (Camacho, 2013;DeBarbieri, 2016;Gross et al., 2005;Laing, 2009;Marantz, 2015;Musil, 2012;Parks & Warren, 2009;Salkin & Lavine, 2009;Severin, 2013;Wolf-Powers, 2010). 2 These might include aspects similar to traditional zoning approval requirements and attributes that are more related to community development. Features of CBAs that are parallel to zoning requirements include: ...
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Communities are using benefits agreements to advocate for economic investments in the context of bank mergers. This study used descriptive and critical discourse analyses to analyze 438 public comments on the 2016 KeyBank–First Niagara merger that included a five-year, $16.5B benefits agreement. Community members universally expressed opposition to the merger. However, the Federal Reserve’s process disempowered community members whose opposition was not voluminous enough to countervail the support strategically orchestrated by KeyBank. Organizations benefitting from KeyBank’s philanthropy leveraged the marginalized communities they served to proffer evidence of the bank’s compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act. Implications are discussed.
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Community Benefit Agreements (CBAs) are a relatively new land-use planning tool and there has been little evidence of incidence or success in benefiting communities who are a part of these agreements. This Major Paper examines how governmental relations, public policy, and socioeconomic status play a role in creating inequities within communities. This essay investigates how community benefits agreements can be used as a tool to redistribute wealth and back into local economies.
Chapter
This chapter examines the nature, scope and contents of Community Development Agreements (CDAs) in Africa’s extractive industries. It assesses the degree to which CDAs enable host communities to participate in project implementation and resource revenue-sharing. Although the chapter notes that CDAs are potential instruments for local participation in resource projects, it identifies certain factors inhibiting the utility of CDAs in Africa including the power imbalance between extractive companies and host communities. While extractive companies have enormous financial resources that allow them to retain the services of highly trained experts including lawyers, local communities in Africa are predominantly poor and lacking the requisite capacity and expertise to negotiate and implement CDAs. The financial power of extractive companies allows these companies to exert a considerable degree of leverage over host communities in Africa. The result is that, in some cases, the terms of CDAs in Africa are dictated by extractive companies. Given this reality, the chapter suggests that African countries should enact legislative provisions mandating and dictating the contents of CDAs in the extractive sector. Such legislative provisions could ameliorate the power imbalance and ensure that extractive companies do not take unnecessary advantage of their superior power in the course of negotiating CDAs with host communities in Africa.
Chapter
Community benefits agreements (CBAs) have been recently introduced as adjuncts into the traditional U.S. zoning process. These agreements are executed by developers of major real estate projects and community groups representing the neighborhood where the development is to be built. Government often collaborates in CBAs to varying degrees, including participating in the CBA negotiations, or executing the document. CBA provisions usually bind developers in two ways: (1) CBAs impose requirements similar to those of typical land use regulation, focusing on reducing physical negative externalities of the project; (2) CBAs institute community development obligations, including providing jobs and support for community building. Community groups value CBAs because they give greater and more direct control over their neighborhoods and address community enhancement issues not covered by zoning. Many developers believe that neighborhood support through a CBA will help gain any needed governmental approvals. Public policy is served because CBAs bring inclusiveness and transparency to the land regulation process, even though there may be a loss in public planning on a municipal-wide basis.
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A tactic recently deployed by economic-justice community campaigns has been the negotiation of Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs). CBAs are legally binding agreements between a private developer and a coalition of community-based organizations in which community members pledge support for a development in return for benefits such as living wage jobs, local hiring, and affordable housing. We elucidate key employment-related features of CBAs, and argue that the strongest CBAs result from organizing campaigns which utilize a range of political tactics including the dissensus organizing power of labor-community coalitions. We discuss how CBA campaigns often lead to broader economic justice strategies aimed at public regulation.
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Problem: As community benefits agreements or community benefits arrangements (CBAs) become more common in redevelopment practice they are generating conceptual confusion and political controversy. Much of the literature on CBAs is focused on local organizing coalitions’ inclusivity and political strategies, or on the legal aspects of the agreements, providing only limited information to planners who encounter advocacy for CBAs.Purpose: I aim to help planners prepare to deal appropriately with community benefits claims in their communities by closely examining four urban redevelopment projects in which CBAs have been negotiated by stakeholder organizations, legislators, developers, and government agencies.Methods: I characterize the 27 CBAs in effect in the United States as of June 30, 2009, based on their participants and structures. I then examine four of these CBAs in detail using the semistructured interviews I conducted with individuals involved in crafting, advocating, and implementing them and coverage in major daily papers, alternative newsweeklies, blogs, and the business press.Results and conclusions: The cases featured in this article suggest that four key factors influence the way CBAs work in practice and the extent to which they vindicate or refute the claims of CBA proponents and detractors: the robustness of the local development climate; the local politics of organized labor; the accountability of the community benefits coalition to affected community residents; and, most importantly, the role of local government in negotiation and implementation.Takeaway for practice: Public sector actors, including elected officials and the staffs of redevelopment agencies, housing departments, workforce development agencies, parks and recreation departments, and budget departments become implicit parties to CBAs and often play significant roles in implementing them. Thus, public sector planners should carefully review and evaluate the implications of community benefits claims for local government's interests and goals. Depending on the circumstances, these evaluations may lead local officials to support community benefits arrangements or to oppose them.Research support: This research was supported by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
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