Community Benefits Agreement News Weekly Roundup

July 25, 2014 -- Partnership for Working Families


'Community benefit' part of next offshore wind auction

South Coast Today

New Bedford, MA

By Ariel Wittenberg

July 23, 2014

NEW BEDFORD — The federal government is preparing for another auction of a wind energy area off the Massachusetts coast. But this time, the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management will take into account how a potential developer might work with local communities.

The auction procedure tentatively set up by BOEM in a draft document allows the bureau to consider whether potential developers have entered into any "community benefit agreements." According to BOEM, the agreements would be legal contracts between an offshore wind developer and community organization agreeing that the organization would support offshore wind development in return for the developer providing some community benefits.

Such agreements will be included for the first time by BOEM in the wind energy lease auction for an area located 15 miles south of Nantucket. Developers with agreements will be given a 5 percent credit toward their bid. That number is subject to change when BOEM finalizes its procedure for this auction.

Speaking at a meeting with potential developers in New Bedford Tuesday, BOEM Project Manager Jessica Stromberg said the bureau does not yet know what forms these agreements could take, leaving it up to the developers and individual communities to decide.

New Bedford Wind Energy Center Director Matthew Morrissey said he would like to see a Community Benefit Agreement between developers and the city, with developers agreeing to use South Terminal for their staging and to employ certain percentages of local residents or minorities.

But, he said, the city has been in talks with many developers, including Deepwater Wind and Cape Wind, for years about how they would use South Terminal and local workers.

"Whether or not these conversations are in a specific auction document is less relevant than the fact they have been happening," Morrissey said. "That being said, any tool we can use to continue these conversations and reflects the importance of local job creation is a good thing."

The Massachusetts energy area auction, which could be held as early as November, will be the only one to take into account community benefit agreements.

BOEM Project Manager Maureen Bornholdt said the bureau decided to include them in this auction because Massachusetts municipalities have been asking for community consideration since 2009.

"They asked us what we could do for the benefit of the community," she said. "Obviously all states are interested in developing infrastructure for offshore wind, but Massachusetts is the only one who asked that community benefit be counted."

Last year, when BOEM auctioned a wind energy area located between Massachusetts and Rhode Island, community benefit agreements were not considered. Instead, the federal bureau considered whether developers had "joint development agreements" with either state. In that auction, the lease area had been divided into two sections, but Rhode Island-based developer Deepwater Wind won both with a total bid of $3.8 million. Deepwater Wind received a 20 percent credit from BOEM as part of that auction for its partnership agreement with Rhode Island.

Other than the inclusion of the community benefit agreement, BOEM's auction of the Massachusetts energy area is similar to that of last year's auction. Like the one in 2013, the Massachusetts area auction will also give developers 25 percent credit for any power purchase agreements they have with utilities.


South Works redevelopment following Chicago 2016's footsteps

Chicago Reporter

By Curtis Black

July 24, 2014 

The Coalition for a Lakeside CBA released a draft community benefits agreement last week to address concerns over the massive development project on Chicago’s southeast lakefront. Now the question is whether the developer will negotiate directly with the coalition -- and whether local aldermen will back up the community effort.

The Chicago Lakeside Development, planned for the next three decades, is slated to bring 13,750 units of housing and 20 million square feet of retail to the former site of U.S. Steel’s South Works, stretching from 79th to 91st Streets. It’s a huge project, covering 600 acres -- twice the size of the Loop. 

The $4 billion project is projected to use more than a half-billion dollars of TIF financing along with many millions in additional public funding. Nearly $100 million in TIF funds have been allocated for the first phase of the project – retail development on the northwest section of the site – with another $20 million in existing TIF allocations potentially available.

And after years of preliminaries, the project is getting under way: Last October a two-mile extension of Lake Shore Drive, built with $65 million in state and city funds, opened access to the site, and this month Mariano’s announced it will build a new grocery store there. Developer Dan McCaffrey has offered to donate land on the site for the Obama Presidential Library.

“This will have a dramatic impact on our communities, and it can either revitalize them if it’s done well, or it can push everyone out,” said Amalia NietoGomez, executive director of the Alliance of the Southeast, which has spearheaded coalition efforts.

The draft CBA, reviewed at a community meeting on July 15, has specific goals and reporting requirements for local hiring and job training, for housing affordability standards set for the community’s median income, and for environmental protections and support for schools. It pledges a combined effort to seek property tax relief for longtime residents.

The next step is to meet with McCaffrey Interests and negotiate a final agreement, NietoGomez said. She said the coalition has requested a meeting but hasn’t had a response yet. 

Asked about a CBA at an earlier community meeting, McCaffrey was both reassuring and equivocal. “We’re not afraid of community benefits groups, and we encourage a community benefits agreement,” he said at a May 13 meeting held by Ald. Natasha Holmes (7th Ward) and John Pope (10th). “But we’re going to do it a little more deliberately. ... Right now I don’t know who the right people are or the right time or the right place. ”

Now is the right time, said NietoGomez, with Mariano’s on the way. “The CBA should be up and running before the first shovel is put in the ground.”

Holmes and Pope, however, are touting an advisory committee that McCaffrey will be establishing. The aldermen assured community members that if they aren’t invited to join the advisory committee, there will be lots of subcommittees and working groups where they can give input.

We’ve seen this movie before.

When a coalition of community and labor groups demanded a CBA from Chicago 2016, the private group planning the city’s Olympics bid, the group responded by setting up its own advisory committee. That committee then “negotiated” a memorandum of understanding with Chicago 2016, which had appointed its members.

Chicago 2016 insisted the memorandum was legally binding; outside contract experts disagreed. Indeed, every commitment in the document included the stipulation, “where feasible and within the scope of Chicago 2016’s mission and purpose. ” That wasn’t a real CBA, which the Community Benefits Law Center defines as a legal contract between community-based organizations and developers.

Coalition member Yvette Moyo of the Black United Fund of Illinois pointed to the paucity of job training funding in Lakeside’s TIF budget. It’s just 1 percent of the total, and in dollar terms it’s less than what’s budgeted in much smaller TIF districts in the area. “You see we have a fight, because you see in this Lakeside budget that the money is very small for job training,” she told the audience at last week’s meeting. “That has got to change. And the only way it’s going to change is if we get together and say, this is the way it’s going to be or it’s not going to be happening at all. ”

If McCaffrey is serious about a CBA, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. The Coalition for a Lakeside CBA includes 24 civic groups, homeowners’ associations and block clubs, with a dozen more groups lending support. They’ve held small group meetings to gather community input for a year, they’ve surveyed the community, and they held a CBA summit in October.

The coalition includes groups like BUFI, with experience in providing job training and placing trainees in building trades unions, and Claretian Associates, which builds affordable housing in South Chicago and knows the community’s housing needs intimately.

Their draft CBA calls for local hiring, for housing affordable to local residents, for outreach to schools to prepare young people for jobs. “These are reasonable demands,” said Moyo. “This is not something you have to take two or three years to figure out. Let’s start working on this now. ”

The coalition is not going to give up its campaign for a real CBA. And they have the right to expect their elected representatives to back them up.


Community activists seek city jobs from $300 million school renovation projects

Syracuse Post_Standard

Thursday, July 24, 2014  

By Tim Knauss 

At least 25 percent of the jobs that flow from the coming $300 million renovation of Syracuse schools should go to city residents, according to community activists who are pressing the Joint Schools Construction Board to adopt that goal.

The JSCB will conduct a public hearing at 9 a.m. today at city hall to discuss its “diversity plan,’’ a document that spells out hiring goals for the next phase of school construction. Representatives from a coalition of community groups will be there to advocate hiring city residents.

The board’s draft diversity plan requires hiring minorities for at least 10 percent of the jobs and women for at least 10 percent, among other goals.

The Urban Jobs Task Force, a coalition of community groups and activists, will ask the board to amend the plan by adding a goal that 25 percent of all jobs go to residents of the school district. Of those city residents, at least 15 percent should be trained and placed in the jobs by workforce development agencies, and 5 percent should be first-year apprentices, the task force argues.

Aggie Lane, a task force member, said the group will send about a dozen speakers to the public hearing. The group has also tried, without success, to pressure COR Development Co. to negotiate hiring targets in return for public subsidies of the company’s Syracuse Inner Harbor Development. 


Equity missing from new SWLRT plans

Minneapolis InsightNews

July 21

by Michael McDowell, transit organizer, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change 

Last week Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) was glad to see a plan moving forward to build the Southwest Light Rail Transit (SWLRT), but deeply disappointed in the lack of equity in the plan as it currently exists.

The current SWLRT includes no mention of equity, and it remains unclear how this project will benefit the Northside communities it's running through.

NOC, along with the People's Transit Coalition, put together a community benefits agreement that was crafted by engaging the community around what they want out of this $1.6 billion project coming through their neighborhood. This document was crafted with the needs and wants of community at the center, including a clear call for better shelters and other amenities in north Minneapolis and reduction in fare.

The current SWLRT plan has committed to 24 new shelters in north Minneapolis this year, as part of a total of 75 to 100 new shelters by end of 2015. This moves them from meeting 54 percent of the need – by their own definitions – to about 74 percent in Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty (RCAP). There was no mention of how many of these shelters were already planned in advance of the current proposal, nor any mention of how to cover 100 percent of stops that meet the RCAP threshold.

As the transit organizer with NOC, I ride the bus every day asking people what they want to see from such a huge investment in the transit system they use daily. Transit riders expressed clearly that the lack of amenities was an issue especially in areas such as north Minneapolis. North Minneapolis has far fewer amenities such as shelters, lighting and heat than any other part of the city. Riders also expressed a clear need for reduction in fare. We want to take pride in riding the bus and public transportation. With a multi-billion dollar transit investment in our neighborhoods, the Met Council must consider the needs of people who rely on transit daily in deciding where and how to invest.

As the light rail comes through neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty, residents of those neighborhoods deserve to be connected to it. In addition to the lack of a clear investment strategy in these communities, this current plan will exacerbate concerned about the likelihood of gentrification and residents being priced out of their neighborhoods as the light rail comes in. The People's Transit Coalition's drafted community benefits agreement listed clear demands around investment in affordable housing and local businesses in north Minneapolis to prevent pricing residents out of the neighborhood. We need a much greater commitment from Met Council and the city around these demands.

"The Southwest Light Rail must be tied to reducing racial and economic disparities in north Minneapolis," said NOC executive director, Anthony Newby. "We look forward to continue engaging with the city of Minneapolis and the Met Council to make this a reality, but they need to know that the current plans fall far short of our expectations."