Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More contrasts between Staples Community Benefits Agreement in Los Angeles and Atlantic Yards CBA

I've already written about some key differences between the pioneering Staples Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) in Los Angeles and the Atlantic Yards CBA, the first in New York. Notably, the coalition of 29 groups, the Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice (FCCEJ), based their negotiating position on responses to flaws in the environmental review, while the Atlantic Yards CBA was signed before the environmental review began.

And, as noted by Bettina Damiani of Good Jobs New York in her 5/26/05 testimony to the New York City Council, testimony that was ignored by the media at the time:
Perhaps the most striking is that elsewhere CBAs are negotiated by one broad coalition of groups that would otherwise oppose a project, a coalition that includes labor and community organizations representing a variety of interests.... In the BAY case, several groups, all of which have publicly supported the project already, have each engaged in what seem to be separate negotiations on particular issues.
More contrasts

Another look at the Staples CBA (embedded below) shows that it addressed some issues still unresolved in the Atlantic Yards debate, including residential permit parking and reporting of results.

Residential permit parking remains on the table. And some elements of the Staples CBA, such as living wage jobs and community input on tenants, were ignored, as Brian Carreira pointed out in the December 2004/January 2005 Brooklyn Rail.

Reporting requirements

The Staples CBA requires the Developer to report annually to the City Council's Community and Economic Development Committee on the percentage of jobs in the Project that are living wage jobs and the percentage of new lease agreements or other contracts that were entered into with entities reporting violations of workplace-related laws.

Also required were reports on the hiring of "Targeted Job Applicants."

With Atlantic Yards, there's supposed to be an Independent Compliance Monitor, but no such monitor was ever hired, and CBA signatories--the only ones able to enforce it--have not publicly complained.

Affordable housing

On paper, the Atlantic Yards affordable housing looks more impressive. In Los Angeles, the developer was responsible to ensure that only 20% of the 500 to 800 units be affordable. However, all those affordable units would got to families earning up to 80% of Area Median Income (AMI).

Only about half the affordable units in the Atlantic Yards plan--1125 of 2250 units--would be affordable to those up to 80% of AMI. Of the total 6430 units of housing, 1125 would represent 17.5%.

(Note that the currently contemplated Atlantic Yards housing scenario is the third of the three in the Housing Memorandum of Understanding embedded below.)

Job training

In Los Angeles, job training would not be done by a coalition member--as, in the case of Atlantic Yards, by Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD)--but a third party:
The Coalition and the Developer will select a mutually agreeable nonprofit organization to staff and operate the First Source Referral System, as described in the First Source Hiring Policy.
The summary

According to the Partnership for Working Families' summary of the Staples CBA:
In May of 2001, a broad coalition of labor and community-based organizations – the Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice – negotiated a comprehensive CBA for the Los Angeles Sports and Entertainment District development, a large multipurpose project that will include a hotel, a 7,000-seat theater, a convention center expansion, a housing complex, and plazas for entertainment, restaurant, and retail businesses. Public subsidies for the project may run as high as $150 million. The CBA is usually referred to as the “Staples CBA” because the project is located adjacent to the Staples Center sports arena, which was developed by the same company.

The Staples CBA was a tremendous achievement in several respects. It includes an unprecedented array of community benefits, including:
  • a developer-funded assessment of community park & recreation needs, and a $1 million commitment toward meeting those needs;
  • a goal that 70% of the jobs created in the project will pay the City’s living wage, and consultation with the coalition on selection of tenants;
  • a first source hiring program targeting job opportunities to low-income individuals and those displaced by the project;
  • increased affordable housing requirements in the housing component of the project, and a commitment of seed money for other affordable housing projects;
  • developer funding for a residential parking program for surrounding neighborhoods; and
  • standards for responsible contracting and leasing decisions by the developer.
These many benefits reflect the very broad coalition that worked together to negotiate the CBA. The coalition, led in negotiations by Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, LAANE, and Coalition L.A., included over 30 different community groups and labor unions, plus hundreds of affected individuals. These successful negotiations demonstrate the power community groups possess when they work cooperatively and support each other’s agendas.

The implementation experience for the Staples CBA is described in detail in Chapter Three of the CBA Handbook.
Staples Center Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)

Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA)

ACORN/Forest City Ratner Housing Memorandum of Understanding

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