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, 12 projects were created and approved by Vallejo residents.

In June 2013, as part of the FY 2013-2014 budget process, the City Council approved an allocation of approximately $2.4 million for the second cycle of PB Vallejo, and on October 7, more than 3,700 Vallejo residents voted for 8 projects.

 For a full description of the rules governing the process, please review the official 2013-14 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.

Budget Assemblies: February - March
At community meetings across the city, City and PB staff present information on the budget, and Vallejo residents and stakeholders meet in small groups to brainstorm project ideas and volunteer as budget delegates.

Delegate Meetings: March - August
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 City for review.

Project Expos: September
Delegates return to the community in another round of community meetings to present final project proposals to the community.

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

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

Project Eligibility: Which projects can be funded?

Projects are eligible for funding if they meet the following basic criteria:

  • Benefit the public. Projects that only benefit private individuals or groups are not eligible.  Projects may not result in a ‘gift of public funds’ to individuals (See Cal. Const. Art. XVI § 6) and must serve a public use or purpose, providing a “public benefit”. Generally this means that the project results in a concrete or quantifiable service or benefit to the public.

  • Are a one-time expenditure that can be completed with funds from this year's PB process. Both capital infrastructure projects and program or service projects are eligible. A multi-year program will be eligible only if it off-sets other expenditures in the City budget so that the cost is $0, pays for itself, or increases City revenues.

  • Are implemented by the City of Vallejo, or in collaboration with the Vallejo City Unified School District, the Greater Vallejo Recreation District, or any other public agency, non-profit organization, or religious institution that operates in Vallejo. Projects implemented by non-city public agencies, however, must also include financial or value in-kind contributions from the agency, in addition to PB funding. Projects may not be implemented on private property, by private individuals or for-profit organizations, and may not promote religious views or beliefs. 

These are the most basic criteria for eligible projects. For a detailed description of all eligibility criteria, please read the PB Vallejo Rulebook.

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.