Neighbourhood capital improvements, such as new public lighting, parks, benches, street trees and sidewalks, can be addressed as part of a municipal benefits agreement. How to negotiate CBAs CbAs are generally negotiated between the project proponent and a coalition representing a wide range of community members. The municipal coalition includes residents of the area affected by the development; Community organizations such as affordable housing, environmental groups and immigrants; members of faith-based organizations. CBAs offer the opportunity to use billions of infrastructure investments to bring additional economic, social and environmental benefits. Such benefits would maximize the value of the public dollar in addition to the benefits of the infrastructure itself. Some of the CBAs we have seen deal with building materials, height and other details that are often the subject of municipal development agreements. Our advice is that these details may be reasonable, especially if the municipality does not have much legal authority to impose such restrictions, but all parties should exercise caution to avoid conflicting provisions in common good contracts and developer agreements that set the City`s licensing conditions. Some agreements require a group of developers to conduct certain types of studies relevant to the project`s purported effects. Others require the developer to set up a neighbourhood improvement fund or provide interest-free loans to non-profit housing organizations outside, but close to the project area.
The developer may agree to donate money to a local school, art program, youth program or development community. The CBA, which was negotiated in 2001 for the expansion of the Staples Center sports arena in Los Angeles, is widely regarded as an exemplary CBA model. The initial phase of development, which also included the arena itself, was implemented with little community intervention and the results frustrated both residents and project staff. More than 250 residents, mostly low-income Latino immigrants, were evicted from their homes for parking. Residents who stayed were infested with a traffic and parking nightmare, night noise and drunk drivers. The developer tried to abandon the promise to transfer longtime employees from the arena to the new facility at their current salaries, and unions had to stage a campaign to push the developer to keep his word. While CBAs can be useful tools, it is important to do them properly to ensure that they create useful and relevant benefits for communities. In a report published in early 2018, we learned a series of lessons about the benefits of the community by reviewing several case studies and talking to a number of stakeholders. What we have learned is that the success of a CBA depends on how well defined, engaged and strengthened the Community throughout the planning and decision-making processes.