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Thread: Community organization registration

  1. #1
    Member
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    Nov 2010
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    Philadelphia, PA
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    Community organization registration

    I was wondering if anyone had some thoughts on the pros and cons of Philadelphia's RCO program.

    http://www.phila.gov/CITYPLANNING/PR...nizations.aspx

    My focus is on the increasing number of public-private partnerships in developments in large cities. Where developers either develop on city-owned land or look to build greater than the existing density (or are looking for some other large change on a given plot requiring an exception) and the community gets something in return for the exception being granted. I should note that I'm approaching this from the perspective of being in New York where market-rate rental-rolls handily cover the construction costs (which are, albeit, exorbitant). Often the price of an exception on a larger development is 'affordable housing' or a park/public space on the plot. The registration of Community Organizations looks like a way to formalize the the community engagement side of this process, either when a Request For Proposals goes out (in the case of development on city land) and/or in a Community Based Agreement.

    Have other cities done this?
    Any thoughts on CBAs?

  2. #2
    Member
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    Philadelphia, PA
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    Really any thoughts on CBAs...

    I know my focus might seem narrow but I'm just looking for some direction when thinking about CBAs and exactions.

    Community Based Agreements haven't been all that good in NYC. Atlantic Yards and Yankee Stadium being a couple examples of negative return for the community through use of the tool.

    I saw that Philadelphia was registering their community organizations to make developing there easier. I was wondering if registering the organizations could also lead to having better and stronger organizations at the negotiating table.

  3. #3
    Member
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    May 2013
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    Registered Community Organization (RCO) in Philadelphia

    Several of the Registered Community Organizations founded have already been very successful. For example the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, The University City Empowerment Coalition (UCEC), South of South Neighborhood Association (SOSNA), and West Poplar CDC.

    southofsouth.org
    universitycityempowermentcoalition.com
    delewareriverwaterfrontcorp.com

  4. #4
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    May 2005
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    New Town
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    Here, a CBA stands for a Community Benefits Agreement. Though in terms of content, it seems like the same thing you are talking about. Their success has been so-so in my experience as well. The challenge, in my mind, is that there needs to be a local group that keeps the larger entity committed and fulfilling their CBA obligations. Its easy for this stuff to fall off the radar and there really isn’t anyone but the community that is going to work to ensure it is being followed through on.

    I am interested in Philly’s registration process specifically because it addresses some issues we have experienced here in working with grassroots organizations. Without getting into too much detail, there are two groups we work with who follow a different, more traditional model of local activism and leadership. This model is based on an individual’s personality and their ability to leverage their own social capital for the greater good. This works well if the individuals who truly are well-meaning, but it is not an organizational structure that has much longevity. When that personality leaves, there will be a hole. And that hole may have been the critical link in ensuring the CBA was being followed through on.

    By contrast, an officially registered and “organized” entity that has a board, etc. has a much better ability to exist over time independent of the personalities that work there (or volunteer, in the case of boards) over time.

    Anyway, that’s another value I see to the registration structure – nudging these fledgling, grassroots groups to create some organizational endurance to make sure they can go the distance.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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