District 9 Residents to Vote on How to Spend $250,000 on City Infrastructure Projects

On Saturday, March 21st, Long Beach City Councilmember Rex Richardson will host the Vote Launch and Project Expo of the Empower Uptown Participatory Budgeting process, the first of its kind in Southern California.  The City of Long Beach now joins Chicago, New York City, Vallejo and others on the forefront of participatory budgeting in the United States. Long Beach is the first city in Southern California to implement the process allowing residents to directly vote on how to allocate $250,000 of city infrastructure funds.

Participatory budgeting (PB) is an innovative process that gives community members and stakeholders the opportunity to brainstorm ideas for community improvement projects, develop these ideas into full proposals, and then vote on which projects will be funded and implemented.

“Implementing participatory budgeting in District 9 has been a powerful process for resident involvement and leadership development,” said Councilmember Richardson.  “It has truly captured the spirit of civic engagement and has encouraged residents and city officials to collaborate and find innovative ideas to improve our neighborhood needs.”

Since October 2014, the Empower Uptown Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee has conducted five public assemblies to gather over 175 potential project ideas, worked collaboratively with residents and city officials to vet the feasibility and cost of those ideas, and have submitted full proposals to the public to a historic vote.

Long Beach’s unique experiment in participatory budgeting heads into its final phase, showcasing eleven proposals to residents in an exhibit-style “Project Expo.”  From March 21-27, all District 9 residents aged 14 and over will directly vote on which projects will be funded and implemented, with a total of $250,000 available for allocation.  Representatives from District 9 nonprofits and businesses are also eligible to vote.

The Vote Launch and Project Expo will be held at Houghton Park on March 21st from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  There will be food, music, and activities for kids to enjoy.  A briefing on the process will be held at 10:00 AM.  Additional voting sites will take place from March 21-27, in locations across District 9.  To pledge to vote, find a polling place, or learn more about the Empower Uptown Participatory Budgeting Initiative, visit www.insidedistrict9.com/empoweruptown.  The Empower Uptown Participatory Budgeting process is in partnership with the Participatory Budgeting Project (PBP) and supported by The California Endowment. The infrastructure funds being used were allocated from Council District 9 discretionary infrastructure funds. 

In 2014, Councilmember Rex Richardson was elected to the Long Beach City Council to represent the neighborhoods of North Long Beach in District 9, becoming the youngest in the City’s history to have ever served in that role.  While he is one of the City’s newest Councilmembers, his history in Long Beach is grounded in advocating for the most vulnerable residents, while keeping communities safe and healthy. Councilmember Richardson has a background in community development, labor, and organizing.