Community boards get the first crack at reviewing some of the neighborhood’s most important issues, from development to pedestrian safety to public safety to liquor licenses. And now Community Board 7, which covers the Upper West Side, has some spots opening up. The deadline to get an application in is January 30 at 5 p.m.

Community Board 7, which has 50 members, is the most popular board in the city, generally drawing about 10 applicants for each open position.

Local council members and Borough President Gale Brewer get to pick the members after an application and interview process. Brewer has said she wants more young people, including teenagers as young as 16, to apply. There’s an info session for teens on January 23.

But Brewer has opposed a bill to limit the terms of board members to 12 years (six two-year terms). Without term limits, many board members end up keeping their seats for decades, leaving just a few spots open to new members each year. There are positives and negatives to this approach — the boards have lots of people with strong institutional memories, but they have struggled to attract people who may have new ideas.

In any case, it’s worth sending in an application, particularly if you’re one of the people who complain about the community board — now’s your chance to be the community board, or 1/50 of it. Plans drawn up in community board meetings are generally considered advisory opinions, but they often carry significant weight and can result in projects going forward or being changed considerably. Oh, and sadly it’s an unpaid position (you should see CB7 members roll their eyes whenever someone comes to a meeting and claims they’re making money for sitting through these 4-hour meetings). The board meetings are now videotaped.


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