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Community benefits agreements (CBAs): a typology for shrinking cities

Kelly L. Patterson (School of Social Work, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA)
Molly Ranahan (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA)
Robert M. Silverman (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA)
Li Yin (Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York, USA)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 11 April 2017

478

Abstract

Purpose

Community benefits agreements (CBAs) redistribute the benefits of new development to distressed communities and historically disenfranchised groups. They allow coalitions of labor and grassroots organizations to negotiate for concessions in the development process. Yet, CBAs are a relatively new tool used in planning and local economic development, and specification about their content and scope is evolving. Some of the earliest CBAs were negotiated in cities experiencing an influx of new growth and investment. However, less is known about the scope of CBA negotiations in shrinking cities where economic development is relatively anemic. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper offers an extension to the existing literature through an exploratory analysis of the scope of CBAs in the ten fastest shrinking cities in the USA between 2000 and 2010. The analysis is organized in three parts. First, the authors present a CBA typology that differentiates among CBAs negotiated with developers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Second, the authors compare neighborhood conditions in shrinking cities with CBAs to those without negotiated agreements. Finally, the authors discuss critical cases where CBA negotiations have occurred in shrinking cities.

Findings

Grassroots coalitions have more leverage when negotiating for concessions with private sector developers vs developers from the public and nonprofit sectors. The added leverage is attributed to the high profile and limited public benefits associated with projects pursued by private sector developers. Moreover, shrinking cities face additional obstacles when negotiating CBAs. The authors concluded that cities with the highest levels of physical distress are the least likely to negotiate and adopt CBAs.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the literature by focusing on CBAs in shrinking cities. It also highlights nuisances in CBA negotiations with developers from the private, public and nonprofit sectors. Although the analysis focused on the US context, the inclusion of these perspectives in the CBA typology provides researchers in other institutional settings with a common framework for comparative analysis.

Keywords

Citation

Patterson, K.L., Ranahan, M., Silverman, R.M. and Yin, L. (2017), "Community benefits agreements (CBAs): a typology for shrinking cities", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 37 No. 3/4, pp. 231-247. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-01-2016-0003

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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