Vallejo's PB Program

In 2012, the Vallejo City Council established the first city-wide PB process in the United States, where ordinary residents directly decided how to spend a portion of the city budget. Through PB, Vallejo residents and stakeholders share ideas, develop project proposals, residents vote on projects, and the approved list of projects that receive the most votes are submitted to City Council for consideration.

The PB Process

In the 2012-2013 PB process, the inaugural year of PB,  12 projects were created and recommended by Vallejo residents, and City Council approved $3.28 million in funding. To date, PB has funded over 40 projects totaling $8 million. 

For a full description of the rules governing the process, please review the official Cycle 6 PB Vallejo Rulebook created by the PB Steering Committee.

Goals: What is this for?

We hope to accomplish four main goals through PB Vallejo:

1. Improve our city

  • Improve the infrastructure of the City, assist in enhancing the public safety of citizens, and to improve the quality of life for residents through the creation of and payment for projects without the expenditure of Measure B funds for salary expenses.
  • Build a new spirit of civic pride and raise the profile of Vallejo on the regional, state, and national levels.

2. Engage our community

  • Ensure that all members of our community have a voice.
  • Engage those who are traditionally underrepresented in politics, who face obstacles to participating, or who feel disillusioned with the political process. 
  • Increase public involvement in civic life in Vallejo. To the extent applicable, public meetings will comply with the open meeting requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act.

3. Transform our democracy

  • Empower Vallejoans with the skills and knowledge they need to shape our city’s future.
  • Build leadership from the bottom up and forge deeper ties between residents, neighborhoods, and communities. 

4. Open up government

  • Increase transparency and accountability of local government to community stakeholders.
  • Improve communication and collaboration between local government and the community. 
  • Support a framework within government for decision-making that promotes a more just and equitable city. 

Timeline: What happens when?

The PB process involves a series of meetings that feed into the city’s annual budget cycle. The third cycle of PB Vallejo has five main stages. Alongside these face-to-face meetings, the public will submit, review, and discuss project ideas online.

Idea Collection: June - October
At community meetings and public events across the city, City and PB staff present information on the budget, and Vallejo residents and stakeholders submit project ideas and volunteer as budget delegates.

Delegate Meetings: October - March
Delegates complete an orientation process and meet in committees to transform the community’s initial project ideas into full proposals, with support from experts. Delegates submit final project proposals to the Steering Committee and the City for review.

Voting: April 1 - 30 
Residents vote on which projects to fund.  The projects with the most votes will be presented to the City Council for consideration.

Evaluation & Monitoring: July and onward
Delegates and other participants evaluate the process and monitor the implementation of projects.

Research and Evaluation

The participatory budgeting process in Vallejo undergoes rigorous documentation and evaluation in order to track its impacts and improve the process in the future. The three identified research goals are:

  1. to support project coordinators in their efforts to attract broad and meaningful participation, by tracking who is participating, how they are participating, and why;
  2. to improve the PB process by evaluating how it worked and by helping staff and participants identify improvements for the future;
  3. to support advocates for democratic budgeting by documenting the strengths and weakness of the PB process and providing support data for organizations and officials seeking to democratize budgeting and government.

Like Participatory Budgeting itself, the research process is a collaborative effort of diverse actors with different skills and levels of involvement, including research coordinators, field researchers, translators, data entry assistants and video documentarians. A formal evaluation of the first cycle will be released soon.