There are pros and cons to gentrification. Some communities have used community benefit agreements to maximize the positive impacts of gentrification while minimizing the adverse effects that come with it.
A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), a contract signed by community groups and a real estate developer, requires the developer to provide specific amenities and/or mitigations to the local community or neighborhood. In exchange, the community groups agree to publicly support the project, or at least not oppose it. Often, negotiating a CBA relies heavily upon the formation of a multi-issue, broad-based community coalition including community, environmental, faith-based, and labor organizations. It can be attractive to developers and cities, presenting a win-win for economic growth and community sustainability.
An example of a city that uses a CBA is Santa Monica. In March, the Santa Monica Planning Commission voted to recommend the city council approve a development agreement for a seven-story, mixed-use structure a block from the soon-to-open Expo Light Rail station. Community benefits were required as part of the development agreement. The largest community benefit is the dedication of land for a residential complex with 64 affordable housing units. Another community benefit is a contribution of more than $5 million to the city for transportation, parks and recreation, affordable housing, historic preservation, and early childhood development programs. Other community benefits include a community meeting space, a local hiring program, and a recycled water infrastructure program. A CBA can help to ensure that everybody wins.
Written by Jeff Khau, an Analyst at RSG