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What San José Residents Spent Public Funds on Through Participatory Budgeting

San José, California

San José, California Nicolas Senaud /

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The city of San José selected eight neighborhood projects for funding during its inaugural, direct-control participatory budgeting pilot.

Proposed in 2015, the six-month PB program D3 Decides allowed Council District 3 residents to allocate $100,000 via online and hand-ballot voting.

More than 150 project proposals were submitted in November, vetted by 18 “budget delegates” for legality and voted on by more than 500 residents age 15 and older.

“Participatory Budgeting has become a proven means of democratizing civic governance in hundreds of cities globally,” said Mayor Liccardo in last week’s announcement. “This pilot demonstrates how embracing ideas that come directly from our neighborhood advocates can help us improve our city with modest public funds.”

The projects chosen were:

  • Purchasing new soccer nets at Gardner Community Center and Biebrach Park
  • Upgrading and repairing the lighting under Highway 280 at 3rd and 7th St. between the Spartan-Keyes and South University neighborhoods
  • Upgrading and repairing the lighting under Highway 87 at St. John Street to illuminate the pedestrian paths
  • Commissioning art to beautify utility-boxes in D3
  • Distributing $1,000 to each of the 20 D3 schools, specifically for technology uses
  • Purchasing and installing up to 30 “Welcome to ‘X’ Neighborhood” signs at locations selected by neighborhood associations
  • Having a portable trailer with a radar speed check sign rotated among neighborhood streets that are in need of traffic calming in D3.
  • Upgrading and repairing the lighting under Highway 87 at San Carlos St. to illuminate pedestrian paths

All projects will be part of the fiscal 2016-17 budget, pending council approval, as will funds allowing other interested council members to extend the pilot to their districts.

Nonprofit Every Voice Engaged assists the city with PB programs as the desire and money arise.

“The District 3 Office was excited to be the first in the city to involve residents in our local government process with participatory budgeting,” said Council Member Raul Peralez in a statement. “The pilot was a success as D3 residents were empowered to make decisions on how public funds will benefit their community.”

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