David Chiu asks constituents to weigh in on city spending 

click to enlarge San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu wants the constituents of his district to weigh in on how San Francisco should spend $100,000 of taxpayer funds. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner file photo
  • San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu wants the constituents of his district to weigh in on how San Francisco should spend $100,000 of taxpayer funds.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu is getting creative with figuring out how to spend $100,000 in taxpayer money.

Chiu and his 10 colleagues on the Board of Supervisors were each allocated $100,000 as part of this fiscal year’s $7.35 billion San Francisco city and county budget to spend as they see fit.

To help figure out what to spend it on, Chiu is turning to his constituents in the District 3 he represents, which includes the North Beach and Chinatown neighborhoods.

“As I thought about how these funds should be used in my district, I was intrigued by a model of civic engagement known as participatory budgeting, used in other cities and countries,” Chiu said.

The spending of the $100,000 for each of the supervisors cannot result in ongoing expenses for city government, so must be “one-time” expenditures.

Chiu is partnering with the nonprofit Participating Budgeting Project to help employ this type of community process, which it describes as “a different way to manage public money, and to engage people in government.” The process varies, but generally involves residents and neighborhood groups coming up with ideas and then voting on how to spend the money.

In this case, Chiu said his process will take four months to complete and include residents and neighborhood groups. Participants must be over the age of 16. A more specific timeline should be laid out next month.

Chiu said participatory budgeting was first developed in 1989 by the city of Porto Alegre in Brazil and has caught on being used by more than 1,500 cities throughout the world, including parts of New York City and Chicago. 

Chiu said using the process in District 3 will “allow our city to make better investments in our neighborhoods and empower residents to get involved in our democratic process.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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