Strong Coalitions: The CBAs that deliver the most robust slate of community benefits are negotiated by a credible, unified coalition of grassroots community organizations that can leverage a sophisticated campaign, including organizing capacity, media engagement, policy research, and legal capacity. Community/labor coalitions have been particularly effective.
Role of Government: CBAs supplement the existing processes by which a public entity shapes a large urban development project. City staff and elected officials can show inclusive leadership by (i) ensuring transparency around project development, (ii) indicating to developers the importance of broad community support during the project approval phase, and (iii) allowing space for CBA negotiations without trying to control them.
Resistance to the concept: City staff and elected officials may be resistant to CBAs because they are either unaware of how CBAs operate or are threatened by what they perceive to be a release of control over project development.
Misuse of CBAs: Developers and city staff that are in strong support of a proposed project may misuse the CBA concept:
- They may characterize the Development Agreement or a portion of it as a CBA – even though it is not negotiated by and will not be enforceable by community representatives.
- They may arrange for and release to the public a "CBA" between the developer and a friendly local body, such as the local chamber of commerce, that will not press the developer for changes to the project.
Each of these methods attempts to occupy space that a robust, community-driven CBA effort might otherwise fill.
Importance of sufficient community leverage: Without demonstrable public pressure and legal leverage sufficient to shape the dynamics of project approvals, developers may lack the incentive to negotiate.
No CBA can involve all stakeholders: Certain segments of a community may be unable or unwilling to participate in a CBA negotiation process; no one should take a CBA effort as channeling or capturing every community opinion or priority.
Legal Fees and Enforcement: In some communities, law clinics at universities can help represent coalitions and draft CBAs. However, if these services are unavailable, the community coalition will have to pay legal fees to retain counsel out of their pockets. Moreover, in the event the CBA needs to be enforced, a significant amount of legal fees may be required. In addition, projects can take a decade or more to come to fruition. As a result, community coalitions may lack the long-term capacity to monitor CBAs and enforce CBA terms against successors to the developer.