District 9’s Participatory Budgeting Meeting Set; Marks a SoCal First

Newly-minted 9th District Councilmember Rex Richardson is doing something previously unheard of in Southern California: providing residents a direct hand in how to spend $250K in funds given to the 9th District, a process which starts with his first Participatory Budgeting (PB) meeting on August 23.

RexRichardsonThe one-time infrastructural funds are traditionally given to the district under the direction and control of that district’s councilmember, where said councilmember unilaterally assigns the funds to projects as he or she deems appropriate.

Richardson has a different approach: PB, a practice that was endorsed last December by the White House in an effort to advertise how PB “allows citizens to play a key role in identifying, discussing, and prioritizing public spending projects, and gives them a voice in how taxpayer dollars are spent.” In this case, District 9 residents and stakeholders will have the chance directly participate in how the funds should be spent.

It marks the first time PB has been initiated in Southern California.

“This is a great opportunity to engage residents in a community building process and demonstrate true community empowerment—that’s why I’m doing this,” Richardson said. “The difference [between PB and the traditional route taken with spending such funds] is that residents will have a hands-on, integrated, educational process in which they brainstorm the projects, work with the city to vet them, and then directly vote on how to spend those funds on infrastructure.”

The first 9th District PB meeting will be held on Saturday, August 23, at 10AM at Houghton Park Community Center, located at 6301 Myrtle Ave. The meeting will start with a FY15 Budget townhall with City Manager Pat West and then move to the Participatory Budgeting portion thereafter, ending by 1PM.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 19 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. In 2019, he was awarded the Food/Culture Critic of the Year across any platform at the National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.