San Jose’s first foray into participatory budgeting, residents have allocated $100,000 to fund improved lighting for pedestrian pathways below freeways, the beautification of utility boxes, increasing technology in schools and more. Over 500 people participated in the pilot program, which invited District 3 residents to propose and vote on which neighborhood projects would receive a portion of the public funds.
“Participatory budgeting has become a proven means of democratizing civic governance in hundreds of cities globally,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in astatement announcing the results this week. “This pilot demonstrates how embracing ideas that come directly from our neighborhood advocates can help us improve our city with modest public funds.”
Residents submitted over 150 project proposals last November, which were then vetted by 18 “budget delegates” — District 3 residents who volunteered to research each proposal to ensure it was feasible and could be implemented on city property with public funds. District 3 residents ages 15 and older voted on a final list of 27 eligible projects via online ballots or in person at District 3 locations and a series of info sessions.
Of the eight chosen projects, three involved lighting pedestrian paths in underpasses, for $36,000 of the $100,000 pie. “The walking paths under the freeways are dark and scary,” read the proposals. “It is important that the new bulbs illuminate the pedestrian paths, not just the traffic lanes.”
Nearly $20,000 will be used to commission artists to paint utility boxes around the District. Up to 30 neighborhood welcome signs will be purchased and installed, at a cost of $10,000.