March 1, 2022 By Christian Murray
The number of Queens residents who applied to be on a local community board in 2022 was the second highest year on record.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards announced Monday that his office received 884 applications from residents seeking an appointment to one of the borough’s 14 community boards this year.
The number of applicants in 2022 was second to the number in 2021 when 941 applications submitted.
Richards said that the number of applicants reflected his continued outreach efforts and commitment to fostering interest in community service among Queens residents of all backgrounds and identities.
The borough president has made a big push to diversify the makeup of the community boards, in line with the rapidly changing demographics of Queens. For instance, in the 2020 census, 26.9 percent of residents were reported as Asian, 28 percent Hispanic, 24.9 white (non-Hispanic) and 20.7 percent black.
“Government must not only work hand-in-hand with the communities it serves in order to be impactful, it must also be justly representative of those very communities. After yet another successful application process, I believe we’re well-positioned to build on the progress we made last year to diversify Queens’ 14 community boards and create a fairer, stronger borough for all our families,” Richards said.
Each community board has as many as 50 members, and members serve a two-year term. The terms are staggered so every year, half the positions—or about 350 slots–come up for appointment. Existing board members are typically reappointed if they have a good attendance record.
This year’s 884 applicants include 610 people who are not currently members of a community board. The number is just shy of last year’s 698 new applicants but more than double the amount of new applicants during the 2020 community board application process.
Meanwhile, 274 individuals applied for re-appointment to a community board.
Richards began receiving applications in early January for the two-year terms, which will begin on Friday, April 1, 2022.
The application process changed in 2021 as part of Richard’s efforts to make the process more accessible as well as safer amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Like last year, applications in 2022 were again simplified to a digitized format, which could be filled out online. Years prior, applications had to be prepared on paper and be notarized before they were turned in at the Queens Borough President’s Office.
The simplified process led to a significantly diverse pool of applicants in 2021 that enabled Borough President Richards to select 110 community board members who were more diverse in terms of gender identity, age, race, sexual orientation, economic status, and immigration status, among other factors.
Community boards are local representative bodies that have a variety of responsibilities, including but not limited to dealing with land use and zoning issues.
The boards have an important advisory role and must be consulted on the placement of most municipal facilities in a community. Applications for zoning changes or variances must also come before the boards for review.
The boards hold hearings and issue recommendations about the City budget, municipal service delivery, and numerous other matters that impact their communities. Most meetings have been held via Zoom since the outbreak of COVID-19.
All Queens community board members are appointed by the Queens Borough President, pursuant to the City Charter, with half of the appointees nominated by the City Council members representing their respective Community Districts.