How to get real Community Benefits Agreements? Depends on who you ask

By on May 18, 2017

From St. Louis Public Radio:  It’s the chicken or the egg argument.

Should city aldermen meet with stakeholders and then craft a bill? Or should the bill be proposed and then brought to the public for input?

St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green, 15th Ward, prefers the first approach when it comes to developing Community Benefits Agreements legislation.

CBAs, as they’re called, require developers to meet with neighborhood organizations and hammer out tangible benefits for residents who live near a project, such as jobs or affordable housing, before they can get tax incentives. For months, Green has been meeting with activists, law students, other aldermen and officials with the St. Louis Development Corporation to work on a bill.

“Our hope is to have something ready to introduce in September, because we wanted to make sure that we went through the process of bringing together all of the stakeholders together to the table before introducing something,” Green said.

But, earlier this month, Board President Lewis Reed introduced his own bill.

Reed insists it’s better to put the legislation forward first, then get input.

“We did it with the Civilian Oversight bill. We introduced the legislation and then we’d hold public hearings, because then we empower the board and we have something up for discussion,” he said. “So we will be having these discussions all throughout the year; all throughout the session.”

The board president said his staff has taken the discussion on Community Benefits Agreements to the social media site, Nextdoor, and is reaching out to groups across the city, such as the Clergy Coalition and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, a prominent African-American women’s group.

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