San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu Announces PB Voting Results, Advocates for Expansion in FY 13-14

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Supervisor Chiu has announced the full results of the PB Pilot Program in San Francisco!  More info below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

April 23, 2013 
Contact: Amy Chan
amy.chan@sfgov.org 
415.554.7419

 Supervisor Chiu Announces Participatory Budgeting Voting Results, Advocates for Expansion in Fiscal Year 2013-2014

Winning projects provide services to youth, seniors, families and small businesses for neighborhoods in District 3

San Francisco, CA – Today Board of Supervisors President David Chiu concluded the District 3 Participatory Budgeting Pilot Program by announcing the projects that received the most votes for funding. The projects are:

  • Traffic light synchronization to minimize neighborhood noise impact
  • Public awareness campaign to educate seniors on consumer scams
  • Chinese language books for North Beach & Chinatown branch libraries
  • Installing bench armrests and facility improvements for Portsmouth Square and Washington Square Parks
  • Youth employment training including graffiti removal programs
  • Signage in Portsmouth Square to address smoking and loitering
  • Back rent assistance for residents at risk of eviction
  • ADA compliance assistance for small businesses

Each member of the Board of Supervisors was allocated $100,000 in discretionary funding in the Fiscal Year 2012-2013 budget that could be used for one-time expenditures. Supervisor Chiu launched the first participatory budgeting pilot program in San Francisco to give District 3 residents the power to directly decide how to use the discretionary funding.

“I launched participatory budgeting because the experiences in other cities led to better decisions, made government more accountable, and increased public confidence in government,” said Chiu. “I’m pleased that our local pilot not only generated new ideas from our residents who best know our community needs, but it also built more community between our neighbors as well as stronger working relationships with City staff.”

Developed in the city of Porto Alegre in Brazil in 1989, participatory budgeting is a civic engagement process that involves residents setting budgeting priorities and making decisions on what community projects government should fund. The process has been adopted by 1,500 cities and municipalities worldwide, including Chicago, New York and Vallejo, California.

President Chiu partnered with the Office of the Controller and non-profits including the Participatory Budgeting Project, Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, the Chinese Progressive Association, Chinese for Affirmative Action, the Right to the City Alliance and California Civic Innovation Project to develop and organize the pilot program.

“Participatory budgeting is an innovative way to empower communities and ensure that tax dollars are spent wisely. It’s a perfect fit for San Francisco,” said Josh Lerner, Executive Director of The Participatory Budgeting Project, a non-profit organization that has supported participatory budgeting processes in Chicago, New York, Vallejo, Toronto, and elsewhere, enabling thousands of residents to decide how to spend over $20 million per year.

Since January, District 3 residents and neighborhood groups have engaged in community meetings to brainstorm project ideas.  After the Office of the Controller and City departments screened the 50 ideas initially proposed for funding and implementation feasibility, residents selected 16 projects to be placed onto a ballot for voting. At seven locations throughout the district, close to 500 District 3 residents voted to fund eight projects that provide services to youth, seniors, families and small businesses in neighborhoods throughout the district.

“The participatory budgeting pilot project in District 3 showed the need for genuine community ownership of our City budget decisions. We were excited to participate in this project, and look forward to expanded opportunities that engage and empower San Francisco residents, particularly the low income communities of color most affected by budget decisions, and with the least historical access to decision-making tables,” said Christina Canaveral of Coleman Advocates.

Alissa Black, Director of the California Civic Innovation Project said, “Both District 3’s community meetings and the vote itself attracted high percentages of demographic groups that are typically underrepresented in other kinds of democratic processes. This shows the ability of participatory budgeting to engage the most vulnerable members of our community in ways that few other processes can.”

Today during “Question Time” at the Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Chiu asked Mayor Lee if he will support expanding participatory budgeting beyond themodest $100,000 of funding available this year, which represents less than 1/70,000th of the City’s annual budget. Additionally, Supervisor Chiu called for a hearing at the Budget and Finance Committee to assess the potential for applying participatory budgeting to the City’s Fiscal Year 2013-2014 Budget.

“The District 3 participatory budgeting program was a very good opportunity for civic participation and for the residents to express their voice,” said Chinatown resident Angela Zhou.

Tina Moylan, resident and member of Russian Hill Neighbors, said, “The District 3 participatory budgeting process adopted by Supervisor Chiu was creative and I learned so much from all the participants in the breakout group discussions. The other districts would definitely benefit from this government by the people.”

For more information on the District 3 pilot program:

http://www.sfbos.org/index.aspx?page=14373

For further resources on participatory budgeting:

The Participatory Budgeting Project
Josh Lerner at 347-554-7357
http://www.participatorybudgeting.org/

 

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