In September 2012, just over a year after emerging from bankruptcy, the California Bay Area city of Vallejo took the historic step of becoming the first U.S. city to launch participatory budgeting at a citywide level. Through PB Vallejo, residents brainstormed ideas and developed project proposals for a vote to allocate $3.2 million in revenues from a new sales tax. In May 2013, nearly 4,000 Vallejo residents 16 and older, regardless of citizenship status, voted to fund 12 projects, including community gardens, street lighting and road repairs, park improvements, youth and senior programs, and a cost-saving spay and neuter program. In Vallejo, unlike in New York and Chicago, both capital projects and programs and service-based projects are eligible for PB funds.
After a successful pilot year, the City Council approved PB for a second year and expressed its intention to continue PB for the life of the 10-year sales tax. The Council also hired full-time city staff to coordinate the process and oversee the implementation of winning projects.
The City of Vallejo contracted with PBP to implement PB Vallejo in its first year. Two PBP staff members spent nine months working out of the Vallejo City Manager’s office to oversee the project. We have since served as the technical assistance partner, providing trainings, workshops, materials, and ongoing support to city staff who now coordinate the process.
- $6.6 million allocated by taxpayers
- 25 community-approved projects funded
- Over 4,000 people engaged in participatory democracy
- Project Website: www.pbvallejo.org
- PB Vallejo Videos
- Sample Ballot
- San Francisco Chronicle article on PB Vallejo
- Participant Stories: Jenny Aguiar, Johnny Walker, and Lynda Daniels