Redwood City residents now have the opportunity to decide the fate of $1 million in city funds for the coming year, as part of “The People’s Budget,” the city’s participatory budget program.
Proposed projects fall into a range of categories from public art to mental health support, including ideas such as creating community-led restorative justice circles, offering showers for unhoused community members, painting more murals, building a bike repair station and providing rent assistance to seniors.
Briana Evans, the city’s Equity and Inclusion Officer and lead on the project, expressed appreciation for the number and variety of ideas pitched by the residents.
“There was a huge range of things that community members suggested,” said Evans. “This was a sign to me that people in Redwood City are interested and invested in our community.”
Residents are invited to vote for up to seven projects through the city’s portal, which is available in Spanish and English. The deadline for voting is May 9, and winners will be announced in June, with implementation planned for July.
The program officially launched on Jan. 1, with a six-week period for public engagement and input, as a way to increase transparency and community involvement in city spending. Residents were invited to submit project ideas for how to use an allocated $1 million. The city received nearly 700 submissions, of which almost 100 were eligible based on certain cost and implementation criteria, according to the city. People from a wide range of income levels contributed ideas and about half were submitted in Spanish, Evans said.
With this program, Redwood City joins more than 7,000 cities worldwide, including New York and Vallejo, in launching some version of a democratic, participatory budget.
The city is hosting several upcoming informational events, including Wednesday, April 6 from 6-7:15 p.m. online, Saturday, April 16 from 12-4:30 p.m. at the Downtown Redwood City Public Library and Saturday, May 7 from 1-4:30 p.m. at the Redwood Shores Library. Staff is also available to answer questions by email or phone: firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 780-7334.