CBA campaigns to spread the economic benefits of development in low-income communities are also attacking New England. In December 2014, the Somerville Redevelopment Authority and Union Square Station Associates reached an agreement for a major development project that would include a community planning process and a CBA.  The planning process should include public workshops, public design carts, community notices in several languages, and a neighbourhood plan for the rehabilitation of seven blocks.  In order to facilitate the CBA`s negotiations, the Mayor of Somerville commissioned a real estate consulting firm, LOCUS, to conduct public relations and involve the community.  Unfortunately, much of this discussion about CBAs has moved away from the main participants: coalitions of community groups representing low-income workers and residents, often in communities of colour. It is important that these communities know how CBAs can help protect and serve their interests in development planning, and understand the elements that make a CBA successful. The Case Study of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center below shows that L.A. communities can and can be beneficial if the coalitions involved have differing views of the community and if such coalitions can be held accountable by the broader community itself.  While CBAs can be a valuable tool for low-income communities facing the development of their neighbourhoods, there remains concern about who is actually benefiting from these agreements. Criticism of CBAs generally focuses on (1) cases where coalitions are specifically formed to negotiate CFAs and may not be fully representative of differing views, inclusive and responsible views or (2) projects in which local government is involved in negotiating and implementing an agreement. But this criticism is misguided.
First, the coalitions specially formed for the signing of the CBAs are not representative of the community`s interests and the agreements signed with these groups should not be referred to as CBAs. Second, when state actors hold land-use authorization procedures, which could include CBA negotiations, and attempt to add government officials as parties to the agreement, the U.S. Constitution protects developers from the government that sets certain conditions for the authorizations granted. It took a lot of time and effort – 17 years of community organizing and dozens of hours of mutual legal assistance from industry and community development lawyers on the coalition side, and as much work on the part of the developers – to come up with a CBA. The implementation of the conditions over the next 99 years (duration of the agreement) will also require consistent and ongoing efforts and work. Overall, the involvement of a local coalition in decision-making on the distribution of economic benefits among Community stakeholders is very powerful.